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Just Back: Scotland’s Outer Hebrides

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Norie Quintos biked through Scotland's Outer Hebrides islands. (Photograph by Norie Quintos)

National Geographic Traveler Executive Editor Norie Quintos just got back from cycling the length of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands over four days on a small-group bicycle tour—and posting photos to Instagram along the way.

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“The Butt of Lewis, northern point of the Western Isles and endpoint of our journey by bike and ferry (and supporting van). I’m still figuring out how far we went by bike but it could be 200 to 250 miles. ” – @noriecicerone

Here are some of the highlights from her trip:

Only a ferry ride away from the mainland, this archipelago feels far removed in time and temperament, with few tourists to mar one’s Outlander fantasies.

The Western Isles, as they’re called, lie on Europe’s edge, linked to North America geologically and to the Irish Gaels culturally.

Dotting the coast are glistening beaches, imposing headlands, and Neolithic sites that include the Calanais standing stones, older than Stonehenge.

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“These prehistoric standing stones of Callanish, at some 4000 years old, are older than Stonehenge. It’s unclear why they were placed there. But the stones were carried from a great distance and placed in a circle and lines, so they were clearly of great significance. Unlike at Stonehenge, people–and dogs–can walk among the stones and ponder their meaning at leisure.” – @noriecicerone

I slept in quirky inns such as the Isle of Barra Beach Hotel, the supposed first refuge of the deposed shah of Iran in 1979, and visited shops where designers put mod spins on Harris tweed.

Aye, and I found enough clan castles, Iron Age brooch ruins, peat moors, and mach air grasslands to fill a romance novel.

Norie Quintos is the executive editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her on Instagram @noriecicerone

Reader question: Have you ever visited the Outer Hebrides? What was your favorite experience there?


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