Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook
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The Isles of the Hebrides stand off Scotland's northwest coast like a shield, stretching over 200 miles from north to south. Trees are few on the moors of these windswept, rocky outposts. Your ship will cruise past their scenic shores on what amounts to a glorified day at sea.
This large chain of islands is divided into two groups, the Inner Hebrides, which are near to the Scottish mainland, and the Outer Hebrides, well offshore to the west. Their climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream, which skirts the western coast of the Outer Hebrides. There are 65 islands larger than 74 acres in the Outer Hebrides, only 15 of which are inhabited. The largest, Lewis and Harris, is the third largest of the British Isles, after Ireland and Britain itself. The Inner Hebrides have 36 inhabited islands, of which Skye is the largest and most visited. 46 are uninhabited. Residents may be crofters (tenant farmers) or fisherman, or work in tourism, distilling, or energy. The islands' isolation and rugged beauty has attracted and inspired many figures from the arts, and also fosters large populations of seabirds and marine mammals.
Evidence of human habitation dates back nearly as far as the retreating glaciers allowed, about 8,500 years ago. The standing stones of Callanish on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides are a Stonehenge-like arrangement nearly 5,000 years old. The islands enter the historic record in the Roman era, when Celts occupied the area. The isles passed into Viking hands, starting in the late 8th Century. In 1098 Edgar of Scotland signed the Hebrides over to Magnus III of Norway, but the Inner Hebrides were reclaimed by Scottish clans in less than 100 years. The outer islands rejoined Scotland in 1266. There was strong support in the islands for the Jacobite Rebellion, and English retribution was equally strong, leading to the breakup of the clan system and, eventually, the Clearances, which drove farmers off their lands and lead to widespread emigration to North America and Australia.
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