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Five history and heritage destinations to explore this winter with Caledonian MacBrayne

Five history and heritage destinations to explore this winter with Caledonian MacBrayne

Isle of Mull

Discover some of the most stunning historic and natural sites Scotland has to offer

Just because it's winter it doesn't mean you can't take on adventures: on the contrary! Scotland's historic sites and breathtaking landscapes await those with great spirit – and a warm coat. Caledonian MacBrayne offers a wide range of history and heritage destinations to transport you to magical and mythical places. Explore ruined castles, significant abbeys, standing stones from the Neolithic times and of course, puffins.


Formed from the oldest rocks in Britain, the Isle of Barra aka 'the garden of the Hebrides' has one of the richest flora in the country alongside some of the rarest birds found in Scotland. As you arrive at the village of Castlebay you pass the stunning medieval Kisimul Castle. You can also visit the tower house and if you are up for it, hike the Heaval, the highest point of the Isle to see a marble statue of Madonna and Child, called Our Lady of the Sea. Barra is further famous of Vatersay's gorgeous white sanded causeway and the annual half-marathon held in June. To make the most out of your day adventure why not go on a boat trip to spot grey seals, dolphins and – if you are lucky enough – even orcas.
The main route to Barra is by CalMac ferry from Oban, on the mainland. The crossing takes 4 hours 50 minutes.

Five history and heritage destinations to explore this winter with Caledonian MacBrayne

Kismul Castle, Barra


The biggest island of the Outer Hebrides was voted top island to visit by TripAdvisor for a reason. Lewis is home to numerous historic and archaelogicial sites including the impressive examples of Neolithic standing stones, the Callanish stones; the Garenin blackhouse village; Lews Castle; St Columba's Church; and the Dun Carloway. But there's more than meets the eyes! The natural habitat of the island is one of the most versatile with countless seabirds, land mammals, reptiles and insects to look out for. The Stornoway harbour is a good spot to see seals, dolphins and even sharks and whales. You can also visit the 200 year old Abhainn Dearg Distillery for a dram or two or see where the world-famous Lewis chessmen were found.
The main ferry to Lewis is from Ullapool on the mainland, which takes 2 hours 45 minutes. You can also travel from Skye to Harris and drive north. Vehicle reservations are recommended.

Five history and heritage destinations to explore this winter with Caledonian MacBrayne

Gylen Castle, Kerrera


Don't get fooled by the size of the island; Kerrera may be small but it has plenty to offer for a day out. Part of the Scottish Inner Hebrides with the official population around 50 this 'hidden gem' is for those longing to reconnent with nature and to clear their mind in the most relaxing setting of all. The geologically impressive island is known for the Gylen Castle built in the late 16th century. What better way to spend a sunny winter day then by diving into history, nature and a lovely cup of tea in the Kerrera Tearoom. After all, if the island was magical enough for painter William Turner to capture it, it must be special.
The Kerrera ferry leaves from Gallanach near Oban.


The prehistoric Isle of Bute has something to offer everyone whether you are interested in history, architecture, landscape or animals. The Bronze Age stone circles and Iron Age village are there to remind us of human habitance way before our time, while the 13th century-ruined castle, Rothesay is one of the most impressive constructions in the entire country. The island is also home to ruined chapels from the 6th and the 12th century as well as to a gorgeous neo-Gothic mansion that is a fair example of Victorian architecture. For those who'd rather get lost in the scenery, Scalpsie Bay is the perfect choice with its lively beach that is populated by a colony of over 200 seals.
The ferry leaves from Wemyss Bay on the mainland, arriving at Rothesay on Bute. The journey takes 35 minutes.

Five history and heritage destinations to explore this winter with Caledonian MacBrayne

Duart Castle, Mull


If there's an island that has it all, it's Mull. Wild and beautiful coastline, an exciting arts centre, a historic castle, an iconic harbour, dolphins and whisky – what more could you possibly wish for in a traditional Scottish adventure? The Isle's stunning beach finds the blue sea meeting the white sand, while the famous colourful houses guarantee those insta-worthy pictures. You can hike the mountains, browse through local art and craft works, spot puffins and dolphins or visit the only whisky distillery of the island, the Tobermory Distillery. Still have some time on your hands? Explore the stone circle at Loch Buie, the Duart Castle or find the basalt columns on the beach.
The most direct route to Mull is by ferry from Oban, which drops you at Craignure. The journey takes 46 minutes. Vehicle reservations are recommended.

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1. judy rapoport7 Feb 2020, 8:55am Report

Re Barra. The statue on Ben Heaval is 'Our Lady Star of the sea'. The causeway from Barra to Vatersay is not 'sanded'; it's a structure of rock, stone and regular roadway, but goes to the wonderful sandy beaches of Vatersay..

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