To the far south of the island of South Uist is the Isle of Eriskay, home to the famous wreck of the S. S. Politician and the semi-wild Eriskay ponies.
Eriskay ponies are a hardy, Hebridean breed, of which there are only around 400 in the world. They are said to descend from the native Scottish ponies and may be similar to those used by the Picts and Scots in battles. They were used by islanders to transport cargo and the now endangered breed is being protected by the Comann Each nan Eilean.
Eriskay is joined to South Uist by a causeway and gained its name from the Old Norse word ‘Èirisgeigh’, meaning ‘Eric’s Isle’. Despite its tiny size of around about 2.5 by 1.5 miles (4.0 by 2.4 kilometres), it has provided much inspiration to the arts, including many traditional songs and folklore, the famous Hebridean song, Eriskay Love Lilt, and one of Scotland’s most famous stories, Whisky Galore.
In the summer months the island is covered in wild flowers, particularly in the areas that the sheep cannot reach. Islanders traditionally relied on crofting and had a fishing fleet, which now sails from the eastern side of the island at Acarsaid Mhòr.
The fishermen of the island wore jerseys knitted by their wives, now known as Eriskay Jerseys. These seamless garments were finely knitted in order to maintain warmth and keep out damp. Intricate patterns were used and each fisherman had his own individual pattern, which would enable identification in the case of an accident at sea. Today a small number of women still produce these jerseys, which can be ordered at the community shop.
1 week camper van road-trip with Hebridean Campervan Holidays
- Explore: The Outer Hebrides 2016-2017
- The Outer Hebrides Guide Book Third Edition by Charles Tait