CalMac's Top West Coast Picks for 2022
Our Transatlantic Sessions sponsors, Caledonian MacBrayne, share their 22 top picks from Scotland's West Coast. From spectacular natural wonders to challenges to conquer - find ways to make your 2022 count.
- Bask in the beauty of the white shell sand beaches of the Outer Hebrides
Travel through the Outer Hebrides and discover some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. White sands and turquoise waters in hidden bays or on stretches that go on for miles. You'll be spoiled for choice.
- Feast your eyes upon the castle in the sea
Kisimul Castle - Barra's 'castle in the sea' is one of many unique sights on the Outer Hebrides. Dating from the 15th Century, it's the only significant surviving medieval castle on these islands - a stunning backdrop for your visit, and a fascinating location to learn from.
- Sail to the islands on the edge of the world
The Outer Hebrides are the perfect base for taking a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site - St Kilda, the most remote part of the British Isles. Inhabited for 4,000 years up until the last islander left 91 years ago - the islands are home to spectacular cliffs and sea stacks and give an extraordinary window into human history of the islands.
- Explore the castles, duns and brochs of Mull
Trace human history back even further on the Isle of Mull. It's home to six castles - you'll see Duart Castle as you arrive on the island from Oban, and the restored building is a glorious place to visit. Although quite different, Mull's Torosay, Glengorm, Moy, Dun Ara and Aros castles each have a story to tell, and they're all set amid beautiful island locations. Find remnants of the Bronze Age too at Lochbuie Standing Stones, and of the Iron Age at Mull's ancient Brochs - which are castles of their own time.
- Take a trip to one of the wonders of the world
From Mull, take an unforgettable boat trip to the island of Staffa - home to Fingal's Cave, a sea cave formed of hexagonal basalt rock columns. A natural wonder. The island is home to colonies of sea birds, with puffins frequenting the cliffs each year, May to August. An unforgettable location to explore with the help of local boat tour guides, Turus Mara Opens in new window.
- Visit the resting place of ancient Kings
Lying off Mull's southwestern coast, the isle of Iona is the resting place of ancient kings. Fifty-one kings are said to be buried on this peaceful island, 48 of them Scottish, including Macbeth. A tiny island, which played a huge part in Scottish and European history.
- Explore Lismore
The island of Lismore - or Lios Mòr - meaning the 'Great Garden' in Gaelic is a short ferry ride from Port Appin. Home to a beautiful coastline which can be explored via paddle board with the local expert guides. A relaxing and restorative way to see the rich local landscape.
- Walk Kerrera's Gylen Castle circuit
Sail to Kerrera - just a few minutes away from Oban. Pack your hiking boots to enjoy the beautiful Gylen Castle circuit. Stop for a treat at the local tearoom, before enjoying the walk which includes beautiful wee bays and cliff top views of Mull and Morven. A fabulous way to spend the day.
- Catch the waves on Hawaii of the north
Tiree - Scotland's Hawaii of the north, benefits from year-round Atlantic waves. If you've always wanted to catch some waves or to try your hand at windsurfing or surfing, then this is the place to do it.
- World class star gazing on Coll
The isle of Coll is officially one of the best places to stargaze in the UK - enjoying its own Dark Skies status. There are no streetlights in this part of the world, so you can see why it's a wonderful place to immerse yourself in the magic of the night skies.
- Uncover the magic of Skye - by foot
Skye is a wonderful playground for outdoor enthusiasts of all abilities. Pack your hiking boots because you'll be spoiled for choice. Try the Camasunary trail - a two to three hours walk where you can enjoy stunning views of Skye's famous Cuillin mountain ranges. Reflect your adventure with our hoody Opens in new window, inspired by the mighty Black Cuillin.Or take a stroll to the island's Coral beach at Claigan. The island is not known for its white sandy beaches - so this is an exception, located just north of Dunvegan.
- Travel Raasay's legendary road
Just a short ferry ride away from Skye, Raasay is perhaps quieter but is certainly just as beautiful. It's also home to fantastic walking tracks, each one with a story to tell - like Calum's Road named after the man who built it with his own hands between the 1960s and 70s to help connect the island's townships.
- Steep yourself in the wildlife, history and geology of the Small Isles
The Small Isles - Canna, Eigg, Muck and Rum - lying south of Skye, are rich in wildlife, history and geology. They're one of the forty National Scenic Areas in Scotland, a status which signifies our finest landscapes. Thanks to the gulf stream, Muck's marine life is very rich too - with Minke Whales, Dolphins and Basking Sharks regularly spotted - even ORCA if the conditions are right. We expect the summer 2022 timetable for the Mallaig - Small Isles route to be published on approximately 4 February 2022. You can also book a ORCA mini cruise with Caledonian MacBrayne. We've teamed up with ORCA - the charity dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in UK and European waters - to give you a unique opportunity to explore the Hebrides and learn more about ORCA's work in Scotland.
- Travel to Britain's most westerly point
The Ardnamurchan Peninsula is one of the most unspoiled and undisturbed parts of the west coast. Home to the most westerly point on the British mainland - the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Trust and surrounding bays and woodlands are the perfect spot to explore, before catching the ferry to Mull or travelling on the Small Isles and Skye.
- World class whisky
Islay - a beautiful, tranquil Hebridean island is also a global name in the whisky industry and home to numerous famous whisky distilleries. Enjoy Islay's uisge beatha - or water of life - alongside its many other accolades, from stunning seascapes to its rich wildlife and history.
- Jura's natural phenomenon
At just 142 square miles in size, Jura is absolutely teeming with wildlife. There are more red deer on the island than there are people. They're a beautiful sight to see against the backdrop of the island's scenery. Off the coast of Jura lies the Corryvreckan whirlpool. It's a fascinating - but dangerous natural phenomenon, which is caused by strong tidal flows between Jura and Scarba. and must only be viewed in the company of an experienced guide. However, it's spectacular sight that will give you goosebumps. So spectacular that we designed some clothing Opens in new window depicting its story.
- Enjoy nature at a slower pace on Gigha
Three miles west of the Kintyre peninsula, Gigha is a small and captivating island, where you can enjoy the slower pace of life surrounded by clear turquoise waters, fantastic sunsets and the glorious colours of Achamore gardens, home of a world renowned Rhododendron and Camelia collection, as well as trees from around the world which thrive in Gigha's microclimate.
- A small island getaway on Colonsay
Leave the car and grab your bike - Colonsay is the perfect island to explore by bike or even on foot. It's just 10 miles by two miles in size. Enjoy the Twin Beaches at the north of the island, or even take a memorable walk over to the tidal island of Oronsay when the conditions are just right.
- Smash the Five Ferries Challenge, taking in Kintyre and Cowal
Set yourself a challenge this year - a Five Ferries challenge. It's the perfect way to enjoy Cowal and Kintyre peninsulas as well as Arran and Bute, all from the saddle. The route can be cycled over one or more days - it's up to you, either as a horseshoe ending at Wemyss Bay or completed as a full circle arriving back in Ardrossan. However, you complete the route, you can reward your efforts with the t-shirt Opens in new window that immortalises the cyclists who took it on.
- Conquer Goatfell
Goatfell is the highest point on the Isle of Arran - dominating the island skyline. Enjoy the island's rugged landscape by conquering this famous peak. When the conditions are right, you can enjoy the most panoramic views across the Firth of Clyde.
- Live the wild life on Bute
The Isle of Bute is home to multiple wildlife species which frequent its beautiful bays and beaches. On Scalpsie Bay you'll be in with a chance of seeing one of the island's two seal colonies, which is over 200 seals strong. It's a haven for birdlife too - take advantage of the hides at Loch Ascog, The Kirk Dam and Ettrick Bay to enjoy the skies.
- Top of the world on Cumbrae
It takes around 40 minutes to find the Glaid Stone - the very top of Cumbrae. The views across the Clyde are stunning on a good day. From here, you'll be able to see neighbouring Wee Cumbrae, Arran and Bute as well as Ayrshire and perhaps the Ailsa Craig.
If truth be told, the top 22 list could have been a top 44 or even 444! The west coast of Scotland is packed with fantastic experiences and destinations for all tastes, interests, ages and stages. The CalMac spring and summer 2022 timetable is now open. Sailings can book up quite quickly - so if you have a destination in mind for this year, book now.