gordon stokes photography

Uibhist and Eirisgeigh (Uist and Eriskay), Outer Hebrides

North Uist - Uibhist a Tuath

Some say North Uist has more water than land. The east side has an incredibly complicated coastline and it's difficult to know what's 'mainland' North Uist and what are smaller islands, and whether water is the sea or a loch. But go West and it's a little more straightforward, with long sandy beaches, machair, and sand dunes. Also bog, hills and rock and a few corncrakes.

Tràigh Lingeigh and Tràigh Hòrnais

Just South of Berneray are Tràigh Lingeigh (Lingay strand) and Tràigh Hòrnais (Hornish strand). Like most of the best beaches in the Outer Hebrides they're reached by a narrow road to a burial ground. They're separated by a small rocky outcrop and some very high dunes.

Tràigh Hòrnais

Tràigh Lingeigh

Udal peninsula - Solas area

The Udal peninsula is a three mile long set of tombolos (islands connected by blown sand, turning to earth over time). There's a car park next to a ford at the Southern end, but then it's walking or cycling to get you further. Its beaches are stunning and even more deserted than most Hebridean ones.

Sollas beach - Tràigh Ear (Ear = East)

Waves at Tràigh Iar (Iar = West)

The Sollas Fly-In

Once a year the skies and beach fill with a multitude of light aircraft - well, a few - seven that year - for the Sollas Fly-In. We were lucky enough to turn up on the right day for it, purely by accident, and had a great time. People fly in from as far afield as Ardrossan and have a barbecue by the beach. We had a cup of tea, gave a small donation towards a bench for its founder who had sadly died in 2014, and chatted to some lovely people. But given the wind speed we were relieved no one suggested a spin in a plane!

Planes at the Sollas Fly-In

South Uist - Uibhist a Deas

South Uist is separated from North Uist by the island of Benbecula (Beinn na Faoghla), and about four or five bits of causeway. The island is rocky with fjords on the east, while the west is basically one long beach, one long area of machair, one long set of lakes and peat bogs, villages and the road.

Machair, Baghasdail (Boisdale), South Uist

Machair is the name for grassland which grows on dunes along the low lying western coasts of the Hebrides. It's the most fertile land around and is covered in a carpet of flowers during spring. Crofters have rights to graze animals on them and cultivate them, so the grass is kept short.

Eriskay - Eirisgeigh

Eriskay is a tiny island off the Southern end of South Uist. If it wasn't for the SS Politician, the film Whisky Galore, and Bonnie Prince Charlie setting foot on Scottish soil there it probably wouldn't raise much interest from the world outside. But since a causeway was built from South Uist and the ferry terminal for Barra moved onto the island it must have seen a massive increase in tourism (in percentage terms, but it's still very quiet).

towards Barra from the Eriskay causeway


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© Gordon Stokes, 2011-15