North Uist from Eaval. Paul Murton /

By Tom Dare

A SERIES OF stunning images from a book by renowned BBC presenter Paul Murton have helped to capture the beauty of the Hebridean islands in a week that Scotland was voted the most beautiful country in the world.

White sandy beaches, clifftop lighthouses and tranquil bays are all among the pictures featured in the book, taken by Paul during several visits to the huge collection of small islands located off the northwest coast of Scotland.

Tobermory, the picturesque capital of Mull. Paul Murton /

A further image shows the multicoloured house fronts of the town of Tobermory on the island of Mull, used as the setting of popular children’s TV show Balamory, while another picture is of the Clachan bridge, hailed as one of the few ‘bridges over the Atlantic.’

Earlier this week, Scotland beat off competition from other picturesque nations such as Canada, Vietnam and Iceland to be crowned the most beautiful country in the world by readers of the ‘Rough Guide’ set of travel books.

The remains of the village, Hirta, which was evacuated in 1930. Paul Murton /

BBC presenter, film-maker and historian Paul Murton was born in Argyll, Scotland, and grew up exploring the Hebrides.

And he says that, to him, the Hebrides will always be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

The dramatic setting of the lighthouse at Barra Head. Paul Murton /

“The Hebrides are in my blood – and my enduring love for them was sealed by one of my very earliest memories,” he says, before recounting a trip to the Argyll coast as a child.

“The first island I got to know really well was Mull. After graduating from university, I lived there for a while with my girlfriend Nicky. I proposed to Nicky on the sands of Calgary Bay and was married in an outhouse on my mother-in-law’s property.

Angus Smith’s traditional Hebridean sheep. Paul Murton /

“The landscape remains a constant and the beauty of the Hebrides is, for me, unparalleled. I hope this book gives a flavour of the places and the people that have inspired me to continue exploring these wonderful and endlessly fascinating islands.”

In the process of writing the book Paul has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland’s rugged west coast, sailing to over 80 islands in the process. From St Kilda to the island of Lewis, ‘The Hebrides’ is a book which explores the islands’ breath-taking scenery in fascinating detail, and introduces their colourful history, culture, myths and people to readers.

The old man of Storr, one of Skye’s striking geological features. Paul Murton /

‘The Hebrides’ by Paul Murton is published by Birlinn books, and can be purchased on Amazon here: