This article has been written with the support of CalMac.

Running, climbing, cycling on Scotland's west coast islands

Run, climb, cycle on Scotland's West Coast isles

The best races, cycling routes and crags to explore in the Hebrides

For dirtbag climbers, hardy fell runners and lycra (or not)-clad cyclists, the Inner and Outer Hebrides of Scotland offer an embarrassment of riches when it comes to adventure and Strava segments. Maybe you're leading the #vanlife, or just looking to take things to the extreme this summer – however you get you kicks, there's loads to choose from.


Run, climb, cycle on Scotland's West Coast isles
There can't be many half marathons in the world that takes place across two islands linked by a causeway more often used by otters. Run in late August, the 2 Islands Half Marathon race starts on the isle of Berneray and finishes in Lochmaddy on North Uist. Race organisers promise a gently undulating route with sea views nearly the whole way.

We think they're overplaying their hand a bit here because sea views comes as standard with Outer Hebrides races. Serious runners and their beards / skorts might want to take part in the Heb 3 series, which challenges runners to run in at least three of five half marathons races, which includes: Stornoway (27 May), Benbecula (3 June), Isle of Skye (10 June), Isle of Barra (1 July), and Isle of Harris (8 July). You probably should just book a cottage and take two months off work, to be honest.

Run, climb, cycle on Scotland's West Coast isles
Better make it three.

For the seriously deranged, there's the 35 mile Tiree Ultramarathon, one of the most picturesque ultras in the UK, which circumvents the 11 mile long, 6 mile wide island, along dreamy white sand and midge-free beaches – we can think of no better selling point for a Scottish island holiday.

Anyone daunted by the idea of stepping up to ultramarathon distance should know the dirty secret of ultra-running: that these are just long-distance eating contests.

Aside these races, there's always the time-honoured tradition of pointing the direction of a hill and just heading out. You're bound to hit a few Strava segments along the way. As good a hill as any is Ben More, the only Munro on Mull – gotta catch'em all!


Skye-born superstar cyclist Danny Macaskill famously summited the Cuillin Ridge with his bike. But don't worry mere mortals: the isles are made for amateur mountain bikers and cycle tourers in equal measure. We're talking world class terrain to thrash and spectacular locales to visit.

For mountain bikers, it's not hard to pick out fun hills by looking at an OS map, but we reckon talking to the uber friendly locals might be the trick to finding the best trails around.

Wilderness Scotland has lots of good hidden gem ideas, but you don't have to book a guided trip to make use of these tips if you want to DIY it.

Run, climb, cycle on Scotland's West Coast isles

The less mud and thrill-seeking inclined might prefer to hire a bike and work your way along coastal paths, scenic roads from Lewis to Berneray, stopping at the many B&Bs along the way for a more civilised adventure. You can even hire electrical bikes on Mull in the village of Dervaig and then crush all hills and headwinds that stand in your way.


Run, climb, cycle on Scotland's West Coast isles

Cuillin Ridge traverse. Need we say more?

Okay, so there's much more on offer than just the infamous Cuillin Ridge, which is a fairly serious undertaking. Mull also offers 600ft rhyolite sea cliffs with views across the Firth of Lorne to Jura. The islands are actually covered in excellent crags for all levels of climbers to explore.

For more on this you might want to check out Calmac's guide to Scottish islands for beginners and intermediate climbers.

Run, climb, cycle on Scotland's West Coast isles

Yep. We love this guy.