The Uists - Eriskay - Barra - Benbecula - Vatersay - Western Isles

Uis Beaches - Western Isles

The Uists

The Uists are a central group of Islands In The Outer Hebrides, Scotland. North Uist is in the centre or the group of Islands know as the Outer Hebrides - more recently thought of as The Western Isles. The Hebrides are known as the “long island” as they stretch for 100 miles. The Outer Hebrides consist of the Isles of Lewis, Harris, Scalpay, Beneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay.
North Uist
You can travel by ferry from Skye to Lochmaddy on North UistNorth Uist or by the smaller ferry which goes through the small islets of the Sound of Harris setting off from Leverburgh on Harris to Berneray, connected by causeway to North Uist. The island of Berneray is an extremely beautiful northern terminus for the Uists.

Grimsay - Benbecula

The causeway south from North Uist across the tip of the lovely island of Grimsay before arriving on Benbecula. This is also where the Benbecula Airport is. The east side of Benbecula is remote, rocky and largely inaccessible, while the west has glorious golden white long sandy beaches for which the Uists are famous.

Uists - Berneray - Hills - Lochs - Sandy Beaches
The long sandy beaches on North uist are also spectacular and the lochs. North Uist fresh and salt water lochs bordered on its western side by the miles of sandy beaches, and cultivated crofts make it a stunning island to visit.

Connected by its new causeway to South Uist is Eriskay, in some eyes the most beautiful spot in the whole of the Western Isles.
Eriskay - Uists Wildlife - Seals Otters Birds
Seals - Uist Wildlife
Rare Birds
Listen to Britains rarest birds like the corncrakes, you will be extremely lucky if you get to catch sight of a corncrake as they keep themselves well hidden, but you can hear their unmistakeable rasping sounds.

There are also many other birds that either live on The Uits or visit the islands.
Eriskay, made famous by 'Whisky Galore', is a lovely tiny island, with a rugged hill, beautiful coastline and fine sandy beach.

It is also the port of call for the ferry to Barra.North Uist is a great place to see wildlife, seals are plentiful. Every year around 9,000 grey seal pups are born on the Monach Islands off the west coast of North Uist, the largest breeding colony in Europe.
Famous for its unrivalled beauty and having lots of golden white sany beaches, hills, machair and moor all in one small island is Barra, a special place to visit, especially if you arrive by plane. The population of Barra is just over 1100 ( as 2017).

One of the Barra Beaches
The airport is one of the most unusual in the world, with flights landing on the beach at Cockle Strand in between tides. At high tide the runway disappears beneath the waves. Barra is also accessible by ferry, which departs from Oban and arrives at the main settlement, Castlebay.

Kisimul Castle
Kisimul Castle at Castlebay is located on a rock in the bay, giving the village its name. The legend is that it was the stronghold of the Macneils since the 11th Century.

With a square keep and curtain wall, Kisimul was built to withstand sieges. Kisimul castle had with two artesian wells to provide water and a fish trap in a catchment basin.
1838 Kisimul Castle In Ruins - Restoration Work 1970
A galley used to be berthed alongside on a sloping beach with the crewhouse nearby. At the first sign of trouble, the crew would launch the ship and defend the castle from attack. In 1838 The 21st chief had to sell Barra and soon the castle was in ruins. Many of the MacNeils went to seek a better life in America. In the late 1930s, the 45th clan chief, American architect Robert Lister Macneil, returned to the island and bought the castle. Before his death in 1970 he succeeded in completing the much-needed restoration work. Water was piped from Castlebay and telephones installed

Historic Scotland Ensure the Future of Kisimul Castle
His son Ian Roderick, Professor of Law, took over the castle and in 2000 he handed the castle into the care of Historic Scotland on a 1000-year lease with an annual token rent of £1 and a bottle of whisky. This ensures that conservation work will continue to maintain the castle for many years ahead. His son, Roderick Wilson Macneil, is the current Chief of the MacNeils of Barra.

Vatersay - Vatersay Raiders
A final causeway links Barra with the Western Isles' most southerly inhabited island, Vatersay.The most southerly inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides, (since 1912 when Mingulay residents left) The causeway that Links Barra to Vatersay was built in 1991.

Vatersay is three miles by three, but so deeply indented by the sea from the east and west that only a narrow strip of machair, or sandy grassland and dunes, prevents it becoming two separate islands.

Vatersay Raiders - Pressure on land throughout the Western Isles led one man to sail to the island and invoke an ancient right by erecting a thatched dwelling and lighting a fire within a single day. He was followed by others, who together became known as the Vatersay Raiders.

Beef and Lobster Fishing in the 1900's was the islands speciality. Cattle were transported to market by ferry from Castlebay, but they first had to swim the 250m Sound of Vatersay to Barra. In 1986 a prize bull called Bernie drowned while making the crossing, and long-standing calls for a fixed link to Barra increased
Kisimul Castle - Barra
Photo Gallery -  Uists and Barra
Photo Gallery -  Uists and Barra
Isle of Lewis Moorland

View from Castlebay looking out att the historic Kisimul Castle, the stronghold of the MacNeils since the 11th century

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