Barra to the Butt Tour


Barra to the Butt

(Starts in Lewis and finishes in Barra)

Dates: 28th April - 5th May 2018

This popular tour returns in 2018 but to make the most of the possibilities at this time of year we’ll be starting in Lewis and making our way down to Barra where you can either take the ferry back to Oban or fly to Glasgow. This is an excellent trip to get a taste of the islands as we explore some of the most productive locations for the wildlife amongst some of the most stunning scenery in the UK.

Black-throated Diver Butt of Lewis Great Skua

Starting in Lewis we’ll head for the most northerly point at the Butt where we have a chance of witnessing the northerly push of Pink-footed Geese as this part of the islands lie on the migration path of thousands of these birds. Nearby Loch Stiapabhat is the last bit of fresh water and often attracts migrant wildfowl and waders with the surrounding machair often holding large numbers of Golden Plover and Black-tailed Godwits on their way to Iceland. If we’re very lucky we may also manage to locate a White-billed Diver at Port of Ness or nearby Skigersta as these are regular stop-over sites for these birds at this time of year.

We’ll also visit Tiumpan Head which has become a regular site for sightings of whales and dolphins including both Humpback Whale and Orca although we’ll need a lot of luck to catch up with either of these. Passing seabirds such as skuas and auks should be a feature here whilst at the Braighe we’ll be able to see a large flock of Long-tailed Ducks that gather on a loch here and have a very good chance of catching up with Black-throated Diver off-shore.  We’ll also make our way to the little visited west side of Lewis as well as the Calanais Stones and Carloway Broch which also offer opportunities to spot Golden Eagle and Merlin.
On our fourth day we’ll make our way south through Harris, taking in the highlights of the island such as Luskentyre where we should hopefully catch up with Common Scoters as well as good numbers of Great Northern Divers which make these aquamarine waters their home for a while. This stunning location with golden sands set to the backdrop of the highest hills in the Outer Hebrides is surely one of the best beaches in the UK. We’ll also pause at Northton before catching the ferry across the Sound of Harris to Berneray. This will provide opportunities to get close to sea duck such as Long-tailed Duck and Eiders as well as divers and possibly White-tailed Eagle.

White-tailed Eagle Otter Golden Eagle

The next leg sees us explore the islands collectively known as the Uists (North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist). We’ll visit the best sites during the two full days we have here and can expect to pick up a wealth of raptors including Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl which we won’t see further north. We’ll also search for otters and visit one of the best locations for Harbour Seals. On North Uist we’ll visit the RSPB reserve at Balranald where we hope to find some of the few remaining Corn Buntings and take a walk around the headland at Aird an Runair. If it’s windy we have a chance of seeing skuas passing the headland including Pomarine Skuas as well as Manx Shearwater.

The last stage of the journey we take the ferry from Eriskay (Whisky Galore Island) across to Barra where we’ll take a spin around Barra’s single track roads to explore some of the best locations in the island as well as the most southerly island of Vatersay. You’ll then have the opportunity to leave via the only scheduled flight in the UK that lands on the beach at Eoligarry, Barra or catch the ferry to Oban.

Short list of species: Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Geese, Common Scoter, Surf Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, (possible White-billed Diver), Manx Shearwater, White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Merlin, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Short-eared Owl, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Great Skua, Arctic Skua, (possible Pomarine Skua) Gannet, Fulmar, Otter, Grey Seal, Harbour Seal, (possible Risso’s Dolphin, Humpback Whale and Orca)

More detailed itinerary coming shortly.

Dates: 28th April – 5th May 2018

Tour duration: 7 nights / 8 days on the islands.

Cost: £1,100 per person

What’s included: All the accommodation, meals and transport whilst in the islands. The price does not include travel to and from the islands although we can assist with this if required.

Group size: 8 (maximum)

Booking: Please email:

Where to meet: The tour begins in Stornoway where'll be there to meet you whether you arrive by plane or as a foot passenger off the ferry. On the last day we'll continue to search for wildlife in the morning dropping people off at either the ferry terminal or airport in Barra. It’s also possible to return to Uist if you wish as I’ll be heading back to North Uist, in the afternoon. It’s possible to leave a vehicle in Glasgow at the airport at the beginning of the trip and pick it up at the end if travelling by air.

Getting to the islands: Loganair operate regular flights from Glasgow to Barra where the small twin-otter plane lands on the beach. If you prefer to sail it’s possible to take the ferry from Oban that calls in at Castle Bay. There are also regular flights to Stornoway from Glasgow and Edinburgh. It’s also possible to catch a ferry from Stornoway to Ullapool where there is a bus connection on to Inverness.  

Trip reports: 2015, 2014,2013

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