The Inner Hebrides include some of the most remote islands in all of Scotland as well as some of the most visited. However, often overlooked as holiday destinations due to their proximity to the mainland are many small, lesser known but enchanting islands which can provide some of the most quiet and peaceful spots to get away from it all.
The Slate Islands are just a two and a half hour drive from Glasgow but as soon as you arrive it feels like a different world. In contrast to the Outer Hebrides, Luing is lush and green and is an idyllic haven for wildlife lovers. This is very much an island of calm, things move slowly here and nobody seems to be in a rush. Walking or bicycle are the best ways to get around and will help you feel at one with your surroundings. The sheer darkness of evenings on the islands can often surprise visitors, the absence of ambient light and a lack of streetlights, coupled with almost total silence, makes for a contemplative atmosphere. It’s a lot more natural than the floatation tanks so beloved by hippies in the 70s but in the same way it still forces you to relax and reflect on your inner thoughts for a while, free from the distractions of the outside world. Ardlarach Lodge is a great antidote to the chaos of modern city living, a comfortable and spacious escape with a south facing terrace for seafood brunch and uninterrupted views over to Scarba and Lunga. It is also warm and cosy in winter with a woodburning stove for snuggling up in front of with a good book.
For some, perfect silence is the ultimate in peacefulness but there are some sounds that by their very nature will make you relax. The gentle sounds of waves lapping on the shore is a great example of the most perfectly serene way to be lulled to sleep. Beach House on Skye sits within earshot of the water, accessible by a four wheel drive at low tide or a short coastal walk from Camustianavaig. It’s not just the meditative sound of the sea that makes this peaceful it’s also the inviting view from the main living room that takes in the coastline and the Isle of Raasay. Skye has seen an explosion in visitor numbers in the last few years but the only passing traffic you are likely to see here are seals and dolphins. They always seem to be having so much fun it would be rude not to join them so jump in and go for a swim or launch your kayak for a gentle paddle. The bay just below the house is sheltered and offers a completely different perspective on the area, as well as allowing you to interact with your environment a bit more, instead of just gazing at it.
The Isle of Mull is a short ferry journey from the mainland but it is large enough that visitors are dispersed and so even the capital Tobermory never feels too crowded. There are lots of small, empty or sparsely inhabited islands just off shore but it’s not really necessary to take another boat trip to find some serenity. Ben More is the tallest peak and the only Munro on the island, the views from the summit are mesmerising and you can often see all the way to Ireland, the Outer Hebrides and Ben Nevis. The island has never been a huge attraction for hillwalkers except for those contemplating a Munro round so the hike up is never as crowded as the more popular hills near the central belt. For many, climbing a hill is like a spiritual experience. With the panoramic vistas from the summit you may not feel enlightened but you will definitely feel refreshed, it is a physical challenge for sure but the mental rewards far outlast the feeling of tired muscles. Kellan Mill sits right at the waters-edge with views over to Ben More and sitting outside in the evening it is hard not to be impressed by the grandeur of the landscape. It will humble you as well as inspire you but what is most impressive is its accessibility. It’s not some out of reach attraction only to be seen on the horizon, it’s actually at your fingertips to be soaked in, touched and experienced.