The Far-Flung Islands of the Hebrides

Berneray-weeThe Hebrides are a scattered archipelago off the Scottish west mainland coast. Many ancient tribes have lived here, including Mesolithic hunter-gatherers, and warlike Norse and Scots. Much of Gaelic folklore in the form of lilting songs and rolling ballads recalls the stormy waters around these islands. Today, the glory is in their wildlife.

The Joy of Hebridean Wildlife Roaming Free

Red Deer roam the hillsides while Grey Seal and Common Seal are lords of the coast. Out to sea are dwarf minke whales, giant killer whales, dolphin, porpoise, and basking sharks. A huge congregation of birdlife wheels restlessly overhead, and forever hunting. Inland, anglers cast their lines in hopes of luring Atlantic and Brown Trout dreaming of a tasty shrew.

Tough Flora Clinging on Despite Harsh Weather

The Hebrides climate benefits from the Gulf Stream that flows past. Accordingly the far-flung islands have a cool temperate climate with relatively long summers. However, temperatures can fall as low as 44 °F (6 °C) in January. Only the toughest Heather and Alpine plants survive the worst winters, although there are two hundred species of flowering plants to see in summer.

The First Humans That Settled Here

Mesolithic hunter gatherers found their way across land bridges during the Ice Age over 8,000 years ago. Just before the current era, a Greek historian described a round temple over which the Moon hovered at a low altitude every 19 years. By the 6th Century, Christian missionaries had begun writing things down. There is much history to discover for those interested!

The Island People of the Hebrides

A few of the original inhabitants still cling to a precarious existence, although many young people have gone to the cities. Some eke out an independent life in small-scale ‘croft’ smallholdings. Others follow their fortunes in commercial fishing, tourism, oil, and renewable energy. Progress turns the wheel slowly in the Hebrides. It always will. Come and see for yourself.