Getting there & away
CalMac (0870 565 0000; www.calmac.co.uk) runs car ferries from Ullapool to Stornoway (Lewis); from Uig (Isle of Skye) to Lochmaddy (North Uist) and Tarbert (Harris); and from Oban to Castlebay (Barra) and Lochboisdale (South Uist).
From Monday to Saturday there are two or three ferries a day to Stornoway, one or two a day to Tarbert and Lochmaddy, and one a day to Castlebay and Lochboisdale; on Sundays there are ferries (same frequency) to Castlebay, Lochboisdale and Lochmaddy, but none to Tarbert and Stornoway. You can also take the ferry from Lochboisdale to Castlebay (car/passenger £36/6, 1½ hours, one daily Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) and from Castlebay to Lochboisdale (one daily Wednesday, Friday and Sunday).
Advance booking for cars is essential in July and August; foot and bicycle passengers should have no problems. The fare for a bicycle is £2.20 on top of the passenger fare.
CalMac has 12 different Island Hopscotch tickets for set routes in the Outer Hebrides, offering a saving of around 10% (tickets are valid for one month).
There are airports at Stornoway (Lewis), and on Benbecula and Barra.
There are daily flights from Glasgow to Barra and Benbecula. At Barra, the planes land on the hard-sand beach at low tide, so the timetable depends on the tides.
Airlines serving the Western Isles:
British Airways/Loganair (0870 850 9850; www.britishairways.com)
Eastern Airways (0870 366 9100; www.easternairways.com)
Highland Airways (01851-701282; www.highlandairways.co.uk)