Area Guide The Scottish Isles
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The Scottish Isles

Unlike England and Wales, Scotland does not have set footpaths because of a Scottish law which grants right of access across most land, regardless of who owns it. Some areas may have designated paths, while others don’t. It is therefore wise to check out access rights and how you and your dog can walk safely. Outdoor Access Scotland (oudooraccess-scotland.com) has free downloadable leaflets aimed at dog owners.

The National Trust for Scotland cares for over 76,000 hectares of breath-taking countryside. You can download free walking trail pdfs from its website www.nts.org.uk

Note: Dogs are welcome on board ferries travelling to the Scottish islands and travel free of charge. Facilities vary from ship to ship, so check when booking your travel. Dog friendly ferries are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. Visit their website calmac.co.uk

Orkney

Orkney is an archipelago lying six miles off the north east tip of Scotland with a landscape shaped and sculpted by the sea. Boasting 70 islands and over 600 miles of coastline, these islands have spectacular coastal scenery and unique flora and fauna.

Due to the island’s position in the northern hemisphere, the summer days are long with around 18 hours of daylight. There are rolling green hills, inland lochs and heather-covered moorland. Beautiful wildflowers, including the rare Scottish primrose, bloom in the warmer months. Tens of thousands of birds nest on the cliffs in summer, making Orkney a birdwatcher’s dream.

Skye

The Isle of Skye lies off the west coast of Scotland, with beautiful mountain scenery, stunning lochs and plenty of wildlife. It is the largest of the Inner Hebrides and boasts 20 Munro mountains, giving it great appeal to hillwalkers. It is home to an array of wildlife, including deer, pine marten and mountain hares, and of course, seabirds. It holds the accolade of being voted one of the best islands in the world by National Geographic magazine!

Shetland

Shetland’s remote islands are situated 100 miles north of mainland Scotland. They have a varied landscape, with heather-clad hills and fertile farmland to a 900 mile long coastline with secluded dog friendly sandy beaches, sea caves and towering cliffs.

Wildlife includes seals and elusive otters, dolphins and whales. (The Isle of Whalsay is a great spot for whale watching.)

Inner Hebrides

These islands have a rich cultural heritage, stunning seascapes, beautiful castles and quiet sandy beaches. They are a haven for birdwatchers and dog owners alike. 

On Egg you can take your dog for a walk along the unique ‘singing sands’ of quartz, so named because of the squeaking noise it makes as it is walked on (when dry!). Iona is a spiritual place and one of the most sacred sites in Britain. It was from this island in AD563 that St Columba spread Christianity throughout Scotland and Northern England and it remains a centre for Christian pilgrimage.

Coll and Tree boast empty white sandy beaches, while Tiree, the most westerly island of the Inner Hebrides, is said to be one of the sunniest places in the UK. With water warmed by the Gulf Stream, its challenging waves make it a haven for surfers and windsurfers. 

The Outer Hebrides

With stunning landscapes, the Outer Hebrides is a true haven for wildlife. The islands have three National Nature Reserves and no less than 55 Sites of Special Interest!

Lewis is low lying and Harris is mountainous, but both offer excellent birding sites, with breeding birds of prey.

The volcanic archipelago of St Kilda is a UNESCO World Heritage site with a unique history.

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