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The Hebridean Whale Trail

HWDT member looking for marine wildlife on Iona

Here on Scotland's west coast, you'll find something special. The area is home to an abundance of marine life - 24 different species of whale, dolphin and porpoise have been recorded in our waters, alongside the second largest fish on the planet, the basking shark! A trip to west coast of Scotland is a great opportunity to watch for fins breaking the surface and the Hebridean Whale Trail is the perfect place to plan your adventure.

What is the Hebridean Whale Trail?

The Hebridean Whale Trail is a network of 33 sites the length and breadth of the west coast which are great for low impact, land-based whale, dolphin, and marine wildlife watching. From the Clyde to Cape Wrath, and across to St Kilda, the variation of habitats and environments supports such an array of marine megafauna. Locations include the Butt of Lewis on the northern tip of Isle of Lewis, the iconic Tobermory harbour in the Isle of Mull, Clachtoll beach in the Highlands and the UK mainland's most westerly point at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.


What can I expect to see on the trail?

While sightings can never be guaranteed, you are never short of stunning views, rich culture and heritage. Community is at the heart of the trail, so take your time to explore the area and experience the charm of the site yourself. Discover the story behind the fin whale jaw bone arch above the Caledonian MacBrayne terminal on the Isle of Coll, or delve into the whaling past of the Hebrides on the road to Huisinis.

Take the opportunity to stop and listen while watching out from the trail sites. Slow down and experience the benefit of immersing yourself alongside the big blue. Perhaps you'll spot a group of feeding sea birds, a hauled out seal or be lucky to spy a minke whale. Whatever the scene unfolding before you, there is never a dull moment with eyes on the sea and there's always excitement in the anticipation of what may break the surface of the water.

HWDT Bottlenose Dolphin - copywright K Denoon


Protecting whales on the trail

Throughout the Hebridean Whale Trail there are opportunities to help protect the amazing creatures which grace our seas.  We encourage everyone who visits the west coast of Scotland to record any whale, dolphin or porpoise that they spot, by downloading Whale Track - a free and user-friendly app.  By reporting what you've spotted, you will help deepen the understanding of the different species found in our waters.  Some sites - such as Tiumpan Head Lighthouse and above the Pier on the Isle of Eigg - are also Whale and Dolphin Conservation Shorewatch sites, where you'll have the chance to speak to expert spotters who can point you in the right direction.


Connect with CalMac

Many of the Hebridean Whale Trail sites are on our islands and can only be accessed by boat. Caledonian MacBrayne connects many these sites and the ferry network off Scotland's west coast transports visitors to these special places. The ferry terminals at Oban and Ullapool are even Hebridean Whale Trail locations!  Your journey begins at the ferry terminal, with the perfect viewing platform from the top deck of the ferry, keep a keen eye out during the crossing. Getting on a ferry to access some of these special places is part of the charm and slow travel ethos the trail promotes. Take time to be present in the environment and not rush through it. Being on or near water has incredible benefits to our mental health and the Hebridean Whale Trail encourages visitors to take that time to watch out and connect with the big blue.


Where do I start?

Explore our Hebridean Whale Trail page today and explore where land meets the sea. Details of routes, transport options and site information (such as accessibility) are available. Across the trail you will find many opportunities for visitors and residents to get involved in marine conservation activities, from joining a local with a headland watch or a group with a guided walk, to speaking to experts at a range of visitor centres.

So, experience the thrill of watching a fin break the surface, celebrate the beauty of the west coast and the rich culture and heritage. Feel inspired to support the conservation of the incredible marine life here on Scotland's west coast and start planning your adventure on the Hebridean Whale Trail today.

Hebridean Whale Trail map © HWDT

Visit  Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust  to find out more about whale and dolphin spotting on the west coast and how you can get involved. 




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