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Scottish Island Adventures

Author: The Big Light/Caledonian MacBrayne

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The perfect accompaniment to travel through the Scottish Islands in the company of Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker with special guests and places to visit.

The new Caledonian MacBrayne podcast ‘Scottish Island Adventures’ is a ten-part series featuring some of the islands’ most unique experiences, historical landmarks, wildlife and outdoor activities. Join Coinneach as well as some familiar faces as we explore the magic of the islands on the CalMac network.

‘Scottish Island Adventures’ is perfect listening whether you’re planning your next island escape or just want to relive the magic of your last visit.

For information and links to all our fantastic contributors, go to calmac.co.uk/podcast

11 Episodes
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Scottish Island Adventures - Stornoway - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Cathy MacDonald Stornoway Stornoway is the main town and port on Lewis and is accessed by a ferry from Ullapool on the mainland. Roughly a third of Lewis’ total population live in Stornoway and the town has many facilities such as a sports complex and golf course to service the bustling community. At Lews castle you can find a wide variety of woodland walks and in the summer months visitors are able to take boat cruises around the waters. Stornoway Black Pudding  Stornoway Black Pudding is one of the most well-loved products to come out of Lewis. Having been designated a Protected Geographical Indicator of Origin in 2013, only Black Pudding made in Stornoway can give itself that title after a rise in ‘imposter’ Stornoway Black Puddings started putting farmers in Lewis out of business. Most of the black puddings only use beef suet, oatmeal, onion, blood, salt and pepper which gives it a unique flavour.  Museum Nan Eilean Museum Nan Eilean can be found on the Lews Castle Grounds and is dedicated to the history and community of Lewis. There are three permanent exhibitions: Dùthchas (A Sense of Place, Eileanaich (The Islanders), and Blas nan Eilean (A Taste of the Islands). Entry to the museum is open all year round and is based on donations.  Ishga Seaweed  Ishga, taking its name from the Gaelic for water, is an award-winning luxury skincare brand.  Four types of Hebridean seaweed are harvested for use in a wide variety of products with Hebridean Seaweed used specifically for its vitamins, bio-active minerals, and natural antioxidant properties.  Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - South Uist - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Kathleen MacInnes South Uist  South Uist is an island of two faces with lofty mountains to the east, and long stretches of sandy beaches to the west. Take yourself off on an adventure with challenging hikes or wander among the ruins of a 13th century church. South Uist is a real mix of history, culture, and unspoilt natural landscapes.  Long Island Retreats Experience true island living with Long Island Retreats. Run by crofting couple DJ and Lindsay, the retreat packages allow you to taste local produce, spend your mornings with the ponies, and stay off-grid in their luxury self-catered accommodation.  Uist Unearthed  Uist Unearthed is an award-winning app which allows visitors to South Uist to dig deep into the history and prehistory of the island. Features of the app include augmented reality, animations, graphics, and stories which allow you to immerse yourself in the heritage of the land. LMS Excursions LMS excursions offer a range of fishing trip packages suitable for all abilities. They are based in Lochboisdale Harbour and have a team of experienced skippers and crew who can help you make the most of a trip out on the tides of South Uist.  Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Skye - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Sarah Cruickshank The Isle of Skye  Skye is the largest of the Islands belonging to the Inner Hebrides at 50 miles long. The Isle’s picturesque scenery attracts visitors from all over the world who can take on its many hill walks and engage in all kinds of outdoor activities from Kayaking in the beautiful Lochs to spotting protected wildlife species such as the Sea Eagle or Red Deer.  Skye has a rich, vibrant history as the site of both the MacDonald and MacLeod Clan castles, as well as having played a role in the heavily romanticised Jacobite Rebellion led by Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. Today, the island has a thriving culture scene with plenty of art to take in as well as lots of restaurants, bars, and distilleries to show off the best of Scottish cuisine.  SkyeSkins  SkyeSkins was originally founded by a couple, Clive and Lydia, forty years ago in response to local farmers who would leave their sheep skins to waste. In the time that has passed, SkySkins has become a tanner, maker, and supplier of quality sheepskins, home furnishings, and sustainable clothing. You can visit their tannery and showroom in Waternish as well as a variety of other attractions including a seasonal Yurt cafe, and a boutique shop in Skye’s capital Portree.  Cafe Cuil  The story of Cafe Cuil began in Hackney, East London, in 2019 when Isle of Skye native Clare Coghill first opened her Hebridean-inspired cafe. After returning to her homeland, Coghill brought Cafe Cuil with her to Calbost, a town on the west-side of the Island. The cafe uses locally sourced, seasonal produce to create its own spin on brunch and lunch.  Ellis O’Connor Ellis O’Connor is a Scottish artist specialising in contemporary landscape drawings and paintings. She produces most of her work on-site which allows her to incorporate the environment and extreme weather into the art as it is created. As well as using traditional mediums such as oil paints, O’Connor’s landscape works have featured natural substances such as sand or dried seaweed to bring in elements of the natural world. Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Mull - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Colin MacIntyre The Isle of Mull is a standout island with dramatic bays and beaches all along the Island’ coastline. It is home to an impressive array of animals making it a must-visit for any wildlife enthusiast. You can also take a boat from Mull to the Island of Iona to visit the incredible Iona Abbey and hear tales of the Viking settlers who came to the shores.  Hebridean Whale Trail  In recent years, environmental conservation has become a top priority for the communities on Mull. With the Hebridean Whale Trail, you can be sure you’re able to engage with the local wildlife without causing too much disruption to their natural habitat by staying on land. Local experts are there at every step of the trail to offer their knowledge and the trail was even a finalist in the National Geographic Travellers Awards so you can trust that your experience will be unforgettable.  Tobermory Fishing Company Based out of the stunning port town of Tobermory, the Tobermory Fishing Company has been producing high-quality products with fish from only the finest local and Scottish suppliers. Having been passed through multiple generations, the award-winning family-run business has a strong island heritage that is evident in the distinctive taste of their products. Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers The Isle of Mull Weavers are based out of Ardalanish, a beautiful area set on a peninsula. The weavers are part of the Ardalanish farm who rear the cattle and sheep from which the products are woven. The weavers use only natural dyes to ensure that every garment they create will last for generations.  Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Lewis - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Cathy MacDonald From the neat Victorian homes lining the streets of Stornoway in the east, to the stretching white sands of Bosta on Great Bernera in the west, where the clear Atlantic waters sound the evocative toll of the Time and Tide Bell as a reminder of the link between us and the elements, Lewis is an island of exciting contrasts and diverse experiences and the largest of the Outer Hebrides.  Gearrannan Blackhouse Village  The Blackhouse Village is at once a site of great historical fascination as well as a one of a kind self-catering accommodation. The village is one of the best preserved monuments of the island’s crofting traditions and was still inhabited by locals in the 1970s. With a visitors site/lodgings, cafe serving fresh food and located a stone's throw from the Callanish Standing Stones, Gearrannan Blackhouse has easily earned its place among the top attractions on Lewis.  Wild Swimming The benefits of wild swimming are bountiful and well-documented with more and more people taking taking advantage of stunning waters of the Atlantic ocean, networks like the Hebridean Sea Swimmers allow people of all abilities to discover the joys of the open water ‘whether they want to swim for 5 minutes or 5 miles’.  Uig Sands Restaurant With a stunning vista of Uig beach and mouth watering dishes like Hebridean sea chowder with seaweed butter on the menu, Uig Sands is a culinary experience not to be missed. Alongside the restaurant, self-catering rooms are available to book. The building’s modern design with glorious sea-front windows was partly financed by the Scottish government to help create jobs and serve the growing needs of Lewis’ tourism trade.  Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Islay/Jura - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest John Carmichael Islay and Jura Islay and Jura are the southernmost islands of the Hebrides and have been inhabited since 10,000 BC.  The Islands are surrounded by a vast expanse of turquoise waters, perfect for swimming, sailing kayaking, or paddleboarding. If you prefer to stay dry there are lots of opportunities for walking, climbing, or golfing making Islay and Jura a great option for an active holiday! There are over 10 distilleries producing Islay and Jura’s whiskey exports beloved across the world. At the museum of Islay Life you can get clued up on the Islands’ long history which saw Celtic settlers, viking invasions, and the islands’ role during the first and the second World War.  Feis Ile - The Islay Festival The first ever Islay Festival was held in 1986 in an effort to encourage more tourism to the Island. Its original schedule included just one whiskey tasting but since then Islay’s distilleries have become the festival’s focal point attracting thousands of Whiskey lovers to the Island each year. As well as the many Distillery open days, the 9 day Feis Ile programme includes activities such as ceilidhs, Scots language lessons, and Folk Nights.  Loch Gruinart, The Oa Reserve Loch Gruinart and the Oa Nature Reserve are two of the top wildlife sites in Scotland and are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SISS). Loch Gruinart is home to a variety of Hebridean birds and other wildlife including Otters, Hen Harriers, and Barnacle Geese and if you’re lucky you may spot a Golden Eagle soaring above the Oa. The Gruinart and Oa Trail takes in sweeping views along the sea cliffs, freshwater lochs, and coastal grassland.  The Islay Book Festival The volunteer-run Islay Book Festival grew from a small book club in Port Ellen in 2006. Sessions range each year from crime and contemporary fiction to poetry and performance workshops. The festival also aims to emphasise Gaelic culture and sends authors to schools across Islay and Jura. Invited writers have included big names such as Ali Smith, Bernard MacLaverty, and Ian Rankin.  Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Harris - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Emma Macleod Harris  Harris, with its long-standing customs, beautiful landscapes and tight-knit community, offers a special kind of welcome to island life. As with many of the other Scottish island communities, Gaelic is the first language for a majority of Harris natives and is a hugely rich and important aspect of Harris’ history. It is famed for its breathtaking beaches which no trip to harris would be complete without a visit to.  Isle of Harris Distillery  The Isle of Harris Distillery is one of the most iconic emblems of the island. When it opened in 2015, it sought to bottle the ‘rare and elusive spirit of the island’ and make it available to a global market. Today you can tour the distillery, learning about the process of their whiskey and gin distilling and enjoy a wee taste for yourself.  St Clement’s Church St Clement’s Church has been dubbed one of the grandest medieval buildings of the Western Isles and was built in the early 16th century at the burial place of the MacLeod clan. The Church itself is nestled by the sea and is free to visit year round.  Taransay Taransay is the largest uninhabited island of the Outer Hebrides and is perhaps most recognised today as the location of the BBC series Castaway. Although there are no longer permanent residents on the island, there is plenty of evidence of inhabitants dating back 9,000 years including neolithic standing stones and blackhouses.  Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Bute - with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Janice Forsyth Bute  It might be just 15 miles long but this compact island is brimming with culture, history, wildlife, and arts. Given the title of the best place to live in Scotland by The Times in 2022, the Isle of Bute has certainly earned its place as a top visitor destination. Mount Stuart House No trip to Bute would be complete without a visit to the iconic Mount Stuart House. With the firth of Clyde as its backdrop, the landmark is a real blend of idyllic nature, stunning architecture, and captivating history. Throughout the year there are a range of exhibitions, and performances in the house and grounds making it a real cultural highlight. Bute Highland Games The Highland Games are one of Scotland’s most well-known traditions with many communities drawing huge crowds to their festivities every year. The Bute Highland Games are a truly authentic experience as the day’s events almost always include pipe bands, highland dancers, and of course, the heavy events such as the hammer throw and caber toss which have become synonymous with the games themselves. Bute Yard Bute Yard is a contemporary multi-use space hosting a variety of different food and drink vendors from across the Isle of Bute. It has indoor and outdoor facilities including an on-site distillery which offer tours and tastings year-round. Alongside that there are regular markets where you can sample the finest culinary offerings from the Island. Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
Scottish Island Adventures - Barra, Vatersay and Eriskay with host Coinneach Macleod, the Hebridean Baker and guest Tony Kearney Barra, Vatersay, & Eriskay As you approach Castlebay with the wonderful Kisimul Castle keeping watch, you’ll soon realise that a trip to these islands is a trip into the very heart of Scotland’s natural beauty. Long stretches of coastline evoke a rich sense of solitude making a visit to one (or all three) of the islands an ideal way to escape the commotion of city-living. Packed with vibrant history, outdoor activities, and delicious things to eat and drink, Barra, Vatersay, & Eriskay have it all going on despite their modest size.   Vatersay - The Hebridean Way The Hebridean Way officially opened in 2017 and spans 10 islands, 6 causeways, and 2 ferries. It is a magnificent walking and cycling route which takes you all the way from Vatersay, the southernmost inhabited island of the Hebrides all the way up to the Butt of Lewis. Those who undertake it traverse over Atlantic coastlines, rugged hills, and sweeping sandy beaches with plenty of ‘Pit Stops’ (official businesses partnered with the Hebridean Way) to help you rest and recover along the way.  Barra Bike Hire  Like many island enterprises, Barra Bike Hire is a small, family run business. It was originally set up in 2013 / 2014 when the family invested in half a dozen hire bikes to provide for guests staying in their self-catering apartment and self-catering holiday let 'across the road'. In those days the availability of hire bikes on the island was patchy at best. Since then they have invested significantly in a fleet of bicycles and they now have a varied and diverse range of bikes to cater for most needs.  Barra - Honesty Boxes  Visit any small community and you will undoubtedly notice an honesty box, or five. Usually filled with fresh goods such as fruits & vegetables, cakes, and eggs, honesty boxes rely on the goodwill of passers by and are a lovely way to experience a taste of the local produce even when the community shops are shut. Barra has a whole host of honesty boxes - some even have a dedicated Facebook page - and are well worth a visit if you’re peckish on the island.   Eriskay - Am Politician bar/ Whiskey Galore Am Politician was built over 30 years ago taking its name from the S.S Politician vessel which came onto the rocks of Eriskay in 1941. The story of the S.S Politician - which had over 200,000 bottles of whiskey on-board - inspired countless retellings but was truly immortalised by Alexander MacKendrick’s Whiskey Galore!. Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
SCOTTISH ISLAND ADVENTURES: ARRAN GUEST: KIRSTY WARK Arran Just off the west-coast, Arran is one of Scotland’s most accessible islands. Its location makes it ideal for a day-trip, mini-break, or extended stay and whether you want to roam the island’s natural landscapes or browse the boutique shops, there is such a wide array of visitor attractions that you certainly won’t get bored quickly!  Otter’s Tail Before you set off on your own island adventure, consider using Otter’s Tail who will make sure you’re kitted out with the right equipment and an experienced guide to help you make the most of the island. They offer three different packages including sea-kayaking, hill-walking, and gorge-walking, so whatever side of the Arran you’re into, Otter’s Tail have got you covered.  Arran Dairies Arran Dairies are the farmers behind the award-winning Arran Ice Cream, whose sensational flavours are made with milk straight from the farm’s own cattle herd. Products from Arran Dairies are high-quality and well worth a taste.  Brodick Castle Owned and looked after by the National Trust for Scotland, Brodick Castle is the perfect family day out. Have a look round the castle full of fascinating artefacts from paintings and period furniture to sporting trophies and learn about the castle’s old inhabitants from the 16th century onwards. Alternatively you can explore Britain’s only island country park complete with fairy trails, immaculate gardens, and cascading waterfalls. Thank you for listening to the Caledonian MacBrayne podcast. You can find out more about Scotland’s west coast islands and all topics discussed on this episode at calmac.co.uk/podcast
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