North Uist – a Wilderness in the Western Isles

The island of North Uist is characterised by long stretches of sandy beaches, peat bogs, cultivated crofts and countless small, fresh lochs. On the west side the island the road follows the machair, while the east of the island is dominated by the three hills of North Lee and consists of a maze of lochs and inlets from the sea, of which there are at least 120.

The east is a birdwatchers paradise, being home to the RSBP Balranald Nature Reserve, where the elusive corkcrake can often be seen.

The island lies south of Harris and is separated from Benbecula by Oitir Mhor, a large sandbank, over which a causeway was built in 1960. It measures approximately 29 kilometres (18 miles) from east to west and 19 kilometres (12 miles) from north to south.

North Uist was granted by James IV to the MacDonalds of Sleat, in Skye, in 1495. They evicted most of the islanders to make room for sheep and then sold the island in 1855. The population, which had stood at 3,870 in 1841, started a steady decline to 1,271 by 2001.

The island is said to be home to the oldest crannog (an ancient fortified dwelling constructed in a lake or marsh) in Scotland, possibly dating from as long ago as 3,200 BC, and a 5.5 metre tall (18 feet) high chambered cairn, Barpa Langass.


1 week camper van road-trip with Hebridean Campervan Holidays 


  • The Outer Hebrides Guide Book Third Edition by Charles Tait
  • Explore the Outer Hebrides 2016-2017

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North Uist – a Wilderness in the Western Isles

by Uncover Travel time to read: 1 min
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