Despite their separate names, Lewis and Harris are actually one island. Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay are all linked by road bridges and causeways. There are car ferries between Leverburgh (Harris) and Berneray, Tarbert (Harris) and Lochmaddy (North Uist), Eriskay and Castlebay (Barra), and Lochboisdale (South Uist) and Castlebay (Barra).
The local council publishes two booklets of timetables (one covering Lewis and Harris, the other the Uists and Barra) that list all bus, ferry and air services in the Outer Hebrides. Timetables can also be found online at www.cne-siar.gov.uk/travel.
The bus network covers almost every village in the islands, with around four to six buses a day on all the main routes; however, there are no buses at all on Sundays. You can pick up timetables from the tourist offices, or call Stornoway bus station (01851-704327) for information.
Away from the fast, two-lane road between Tarbert and Stornoway, most roads are single-track. The main hazard is posed by sheep wandering about or sleeping on the road. Petrol stations are far apart (almost all of those on Lewis and Harris are closed on Sunday), and fuel is about 10% more expensive than on the mainland.
There are petrol stations at Stornoway, Barvas, Borve, Uig, Breacleit (Great Bernera), Ness, Tarbert and Leverburgh on Lewis and Harris; Lochmaddy and Cladach on North Uist; Balivanich on Benbecula; Howmore, Lochboisdale and Daliburgh on South Uist; and Castlebay on Barra.
Cars can be hired from around £26 per day from Lewis Car Rentals (01851-703760; www.lewis-car-rental.co.uk; 52 Bayhead St, Stornoway) and Ask Car Hire (01870-602818; email@example.com; Liniclate, Benbecula).
Many visiting cyclists plan to cycle the length of the archipelago, but if you’re one of them, remember that the wind is often strong (you may hear stories of people pedalling downhill and freewheeling uphill), and the prevailing direction is from the southwest – so south to north is usually the easier direction. There are few serious hills, except for a stiff climb on the main road just north of Tarbert.
Bikes can be hired for around £8 to £10 a day or £35 to £45 a week in Stornoway (Lewis), Leverburgh (Harris), Howmore (South Uist) and Castlebay (Barra). Rothan Cycles (www.rothan.com) offers a delivery and pick-up service at various points between Eriskay and Stornoway.