Scottish Island Hopping
Scottish Island Hopping
Fairy pools on Isle of Skye
Waking up to a view of glistening turquoise sea, sandy beaches and a backdrop of jaw-dropping mountains are just a few reasons that the Scottish isles are such a popular campervan destination and perfect for Scottish Island Hopping.
Forget mini-breaks to the city, thousands of campers crave the remote islands off the coast of Scotland every single year. What better way to escape the strain of everyday life than ‘bagging’ an island? While you’re there, you might even bag a Munro or two as well.
It might surprise you to note that there are close to 800 islands off the coast of Scotland, some more famous ones, including Arran in the Firth of the Clyde, to lesser known ones such as Swona, one of the Orkney Islands.
The islands are categorised into four main groups: Shetland, Orkney, Inner Hebrides and Outer Hebrides (western isles). It’s not really possible to bag all 790 islands as only around 100 of them are populated and/or have the transport to get you there.
Shetland Islands in a Campervan
There are over 100 isles in Shetland spanning 100 miles of sea, from Fair Isle, which lies in the south, to the most northern island in Britain, Out Stack, which is closer to Norway than the Scottish capital. Just 15 of the Shetland Islands are populated, yet the attract thousands of tourists every single year.
The main draw is the abundant wildlife, beaches, hiking in the vast countryside and the culture, which is a delightful mix of Scottish and Scandinavian.
Getting there: You and your camper will need to make your way to Aberdeen and from there, catch the 12-13 hour overnight crossing with Northlink Ferries.
Skeld Caravan Site
Harbour View, Westerskeld, Skeld, Shetlands, ZE2 9NL
Open all year – £14 per night
Eshaness, Shetlands, ZE2 9RS
Open all year – £14.50-£16 per night
Orkney Island, great Campervan location
Just off the north coast of Scotland is a group of around 70 islands, known as the Orkney Islands. There is a large population of over 20,000 people inhabiting Orkney, although most of them live on the ‘mainland’.
If you’re interested in Scottish history and archaeology, a trip to these islands is definitely for you, as over 1000 prehistoric sites have been identified, including a house dating from 3700BC and a number of shipwrecks from the war.
Getting there: Drive your camper up to one of the ferry ports: Aberdeen (6 hours), Scrabster (90 minutes), Gills Bay (1 hour) or Caitness (40 minutes).
John O’Groats Ferries Ltd 01955 611353
NorthLink Ferries 0845 6000449
Pentland Ferries 01856 831 226
Evie, Orkney Islands, KW17 2PJ
Open April to September – £POA
Pickaquoy Road, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, KW15 1LR
Open April to October – £15.90-£20.50 per night
From the Isle of Islay right up to the Isle of Skye, the Inner Hebrides are off the west coast of Scotland. There are over 70 islands in the group, 36 of which are inhabited, but the most famous are Skye, Mull, Islay and Jura.
The Inner Hebrides offer visitors a rugged landscape filled with mystery and legends, but also a taste of Scotland, from Scotch whisky to oysters; you’ll find all sorts of delights here.
Getting there: Jump in your camper and head over to Oban, known as the ‘gateway to the isles’, before catching a ferry to either Mull, Tiree, Coll, Colonsay or Islay with Caledonian MacIntyre ferries.
Crannich Farm, Aros, Isle of Mull, PA72 6JP
Open May to November- £20 per night
Staffin, Isle of Skye, IV51 9JX
Open April to October – £12 per night
The Outer Hebrides
A large cluster of smaller islands off the west coast of Scotland makes up the Outer Hebrides. The landscape is very flat aside from Harris, which is well known for its mountains. You will that these isles are less touristy than the Inner Hebrides, and as such the inhabitants are very traditional with Gaelic widely spoken throughout.
Getting there: CalMac is the main operator for ferries over to the Outer Hebrides, which are accessed from Oban on the mainland. Alternatively, campers may wish to do a spot of ‘island hopping’ with a Hopscotch ticket.
Hougharry, Isle Of North Uist, Hebrides, HS6 5DL
Open April to October – £8-10 + £3 hookup
1 Lickisto, Isle Of Harris, Hebrides, HS3 3EL
01859 530 485
Open March to October – £12pppn