The islands of The Uists

The Sound of Harris, punctuated by islands, separates UIST, BENBECULA, and BARRA from Lewis and Harris. The island of Bearnaraigh (Berneray) which is well known as a favourite holiday destination for HRH Prince Charles, lies off the northern coast of North Uist and is now the only populated island in the Sound. The rest of the islands were cleared of people during the 19th century.  

NORTH UIST is a place of sharp contrasts. To the east the rolling hills and moorland nurse countless trout filled lochs. On the west, the browns and purples of the moor change to a luxuriant green fringed by those great expanses of white sand which are so commonplace in the Western Isles. North Uist connects with BENBECULA, via Griomasaigh (Grimsay) by causeway and bridge. Sea skies create a rather unique natural environment for those who holiday on Benbecula, so much so that one can understand the reluctance of visitors to leave.

Another causeway joins with SOUTH UIST. All down the west coast of South Uist are vistas that delight the eye; beaches, sand dunes coloured by the flowers of wild orchids, green grasslands salted by the Atlantic rain, and the restless rolling waves of the same ocean. The long sea lochs of the east hold delights of their own. Historic Eiriosgaigh (Eriskay) lies to the south east.

These islands are rich with archaeological sites, and it would take many days to explore them all. North Uist contains some two-thirds of the chambered cairns found in the Western Isles, with Barpa Langass (five miles from Lochmaddy), of particular importance.

Other castles, now ruined, include Borve in Benbecula and Ormacleit in South Uist. Teampull na Trionad (Trinity Temple) near Carinish in North Uist dates back to the early 13th century, and the sites of Teampull Chalum Cille in Benbecula and at Tobha Mor (Howmore) in South Uist, reflect these very early times.
These islands are also of great importance for the natural historian, particularly the bird watcher. The RSPB has a Reserve on North Uist at Balranald and the conservation agency SNH looks after the Nature Reserve at Loch Druidibeg in South Uist.

 

A Museum and Arts Centre can be found at Taigh Chearsabhagh (Lochmaddy) and museums at Sgoil Lionacleit Community School in Benbecula, at Kildonan in South Uist, as well as other local village museums spread throughout the islands during the summer.  

Closing days and Sundays

The deeply held religious beliefs on all the islands are one of the features that make life here in the Outer Hebrides so different from mainland Britain.

Most of the shops, petrol stations, etc are closed and there is no scheduled public transport on Sundays. 

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