Fly & Drive, Highlands & Islands

31 August 2017

barra airport

Photo: James Stringer via CC

September 1st sees the end of the partnership agreement between Flybe and Loganair on flights to the Hebrides. For holidaymakers to the Highlands and Islands this is fantastic news as both airlines will now compete directly. The numbers of flights to these once poorly serviced areas will double and the competition has already resulted in the airlines slashing fares to some of their lowest ever. It has never been more convenient or cheaper to arrive by air and with the number of car rental companies now operating on the islands then fly drive holidays and short breaks are more viable than ever before. Another new development is the code share agreement between Loganair and British Airways which means that with one ticket you can now connect with almost anywhere in the world. With so many to choose from here are 4 of our favourite highland flight destinations for you to arrive in style without having to worry about fully booked ferries or long drives.

The runway on Barra is truly iconic, and the beach landing justifiably one of the most famous in the world. On a clear day the views across Traigh Mhor are spectacular and as you come in to land you can see right across the Minch. You feel like you are on holiday from the very second you land as you walk out onto the pristine white sands. Barra has a lot to offer in itself but with a hire car you can easily hop on the ferry to Eriskay and then explore the contrasting attractions of South Uist which is connected via causeway. Eriskay Views Cottage commands spectacular views over Prince Charlie’s Bay and across to Barra, and is a great base for checking out the local sites made famous by Whisky Galore.

Benbecula does not have a direct ferry connection so often gets missed out by visitors and that is a shame. An increase in scheduled flights will change this as from next month there will be extra departures from Inverness, Glasgow (with a connection to Manchester) and Edinburgh. The island has amazing beaches on the west coast, great options for eating out and some of the best fishing on the islands. Causeways built in the 60s and 70s connect Benbecula to north and South Uist so if you have time you can easily enjoy a round of golf at Askernish or go on a boat trip to St Kilda. The best traditional place for a cosy weekend would have to be Cuir na Bhoir. It’s a 20 minute drive from the airport so it’s perfectly feasible for you to be swimming in the sea just outside it within half an hour of your flight touching down.

The airport at Inverness has seen a rapid expansion in recent years and there is now direct connections with a huge selection of British cities as well as a handful of European destinations. What this has done is to open up the surrounding area to the lucrative city break market. For a romantic long weekend away from London for example you could maximise your holiday time by avoiding massive queues, passport control and airports located hours out of town. East Cottage is just a few miles away from Inverness airport, and once you are here you will find a huge swathe of the Highlands are just a short drive away, Loch Ness, the Cairngorms, beaches, castles, dolphins and fine dining can all be packed into a long weekend.

Stornoway airport is conveniently located just a few minutes outside the town. This is the gateway to the Hebrides with all the main attractions and beaches an easy drive away. There are a number of car hire options available at the airport or in the town itself to help you make the most of your time on the island. For a short break then Stornoway itself is the ideal base, you could stay in Peninsula Cottage and have easy access to the restaurants, culture and nightlife in the centre as well as being only a short drive to beaches and historical attractions. Alternatively you could base yourself close to the beach at somewhere like 7A Ardroil on the west coast, remote and peaceful but still very accessible.