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I then linger for a while at a couple of empty beaches, dipping my toes into the icy Atlantic waters with not a soul in sight.

Back on the bike, I find myself drawn to the southernmost tip of the island to Vatersay Bay, regarded as the most beautiful in the country. It does not disappoint.

For a moment I stand at the westernmost point in Britain and feel like I am about to step off the edge of the world.

As is typical for a balmy Scottish summer, the clouds start to gather and the sky glooms over. Ever the optimist, I’m dressed in shorts and T-shirt, so I hobble back onto my bike for the 40-minute trip back to Castlebay.

The woolly clouds on the horizon mean it won’t be too long before it’s time to head indoors.

But it’s a blessing in disguise, especially when the island’s famed hospitality consists of peaty single malt whiskies, roaring fireplaces and any number of amber-hued Hebridean ales.

I know what my next sentence will be: “A dram of your finest please, landlord.”

Bike hire: £12 per day, from Barra

Cycle Hire:
29 St Brendans Road, Tel. 018 7181 0284

Getting there

Take the train from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly with Virgin Trains from £37

Fly from Manchester to Barra from £200 with flybe

Eat, drink, sleep

The Sea View restaurant at The Isle of Barra Beach Hotel has floor to ceiling views of the windswept coast and serves up a fitting buffet of the morning’s catch. Mains from £10.

Cafe Kisimul does a strange hybrid of Scottish, Italian and Indian cuisine – there’s not many places where you can get a hand-dived scallop pakora. Mains from £7. 

Favoured by the locals, The Castlebay Hotel overlooks Kisimul Castle and the bar has some serious top shelf whiskies. Pints from £3.60.

The Halaman Bar has a great selection of Scottish ales, including some rather tasty Hebridean tipples. Pints from £3.80.

The Isle of Barra Beach Hotel is the most westerly pub and hotel in Britain and each room looks out onto the Atlantic. Rooms from £48pppn, including breakfast.

Dunard Hostel is a five minute walk to the main shops, bars and the ferry terminal in Castlebay. Room rates start from £16pp for a bunk bed. 


Photos: Visit Scotland, TNT, Mike MacEacheran, Getty, Thinkstock


Caribbean-style sunny and sandy beaches in Scotland? We explore the Isle of Barra
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