Wiay, Outer Hebrides

23 05 2015

Having to put this archival post out – all due to the Post Office who decided, in their infinite wisdom, to not deliver my films for processing for a whole week! (and to charge an extra £3.17 postage in the process)… That means that it will now be at least another week before my photos come back for scanning so all the posts I’ve written for my recent burst of activity will have to wait awhile. Royal Mail used to be good once – now, like so many of our British institutions, going rapidly downhill 😦

When I was still an Army gal, based on the Uists of the Outer Hebrides (north-west of mainland Scotland), my friends and I used to get about all over the islands, despite a lack of any transport. We’d been down the inventively-routed road down to Petersport many a time and I’d always looked wistfully across to the mysterious and uninhabited island of Wiay.

Wiay lies just off the south-east corner of Benbecula, the island we lived on and, years ago, was inhabited but hasn’t been since 1942. There were all of 6 inhabitants in 1861 though.

Wiay fm Petersport
Wiay from Petersport

On a quick research for this post, I was dismayed to see the island was put up for sale in 2013 as a shooting estate with planning permission to rebuild the house – I really think the island should have been left unoccupied and not sold to hooray-henrys to kill things! This will probably also mean that you can no longer visit it and anyway the atmosphere will be completely ruined 😦

Back to our trip though… after quite a few months of enquiries, we finally found that a certain fisherman down the Petersport road fished around the island sometimes. We rang him up and he said he was due to lift lobster creels in the next week or so and could drop us on the island – we arranged a date with him.

My friend Linda, myself and another girl, went round to his house – easily recognised by the colourful creel floats around his gate and we bumped down the rest of the exciting road in their van along with the fishing tackle. The narrow road is quite something – very twisty and, over every hump in the road there is a sudden bend either left or right – many times across a rough, wooden causeway.

Petersport causeways

At the pier, we all piled into his small open boat, they loaded their gear and we were off for the trip around to the south-east corner of the island where we were dropped off in the sheltered Bagh na Haun. As we disembarked, we thought he’d landed us on the moon, so rocky was our landing place!

Wiay landing

He promised to pick us up on the other side of the island in 4 hours – we hoped he wouldn’t forget and leave us there for the night! There is no shelter whatsoever on the island…

We clambered up the rocks and set off anti-clockwise around the south-eastern shoreline. All the beaches were either rocky or stony but very pretty…

Wiay stony beach

Wiay natural causeway

We continued to Glac Mhor where the smaller island of Scaraclett lay just offshore. We then headed inland to cut across the island as I wanted to do ‘the hill’ – Beinn a’ Tuath (North Hill) – all of 337 feet.

Cutting inland, we came upon a large loch filled with little islands – for some reason this loch gave me the creeps! It just looked dark and mysterious to me. The loch was Loch na Beiste which, when I got it translated later, means ‘the loch of the beast’.

Wiay-L na Beiste2

We walked along its shore and then strolled easily up the south-east ridge of the hill, me looking back to the loch all the time to see if we were being followed by something. I have to admit the loch looks quite pretty in the photos and not at all menacing…

Wiay-L na Beiste1

Wiay-Loch na Beiste

It didn’t take long to the summit of the hill where we admired the great views in all directions and then descended the western side – this got very steep and rocky at the bottom!

Wiay-old settlement

There we found the old settlement – it spanned several timescales from very ancient to the 1940s ruin. We still had an hour to walk but couldn’t be bothered to do much more so we took a stroll across towards the other hill on the island – Beinn a’ Deas or South Hill. There we found a lovely little loch, Loch a’ Deas, and one of the only trees on the island – a willow growing in a deep hole with only the top showing. With the hurricane-strength winds throughout the winter on the islands, precious few trees can get a hold.

Wiay-Beinn a Deas loch

We then made our way to the pick-up point for the boat and gazed hopefully out to sea. Much as we’d enjoyed the island, we were pretty relieved when our boatman hove into view and hadn’t forgotten us after all.

What a shame that, if the island has now been sold to a shooting estate, the peace, tranquility, and in parts, spookiness, will be destroyed by loud gunfire as animals are killed for fun. That’s if you’d even be allowed onto the island now.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

19 responses

12 05 2016
Jim Ruebush

We visited Barra in 1999. My wife is a McNeil. The Kisimul castle in Castlebay was fun to see. We hiked to the top of Heaval, 383 metres (1,257 ft), the highest point on the island. woohoo!

We are planning another trip to Scotland in Sept. Our aim is to do a whiskey tour. Then, barge down from Inverness to Ft. William, doing hikes daily in the hills.

Like

12 05 2016
mountaincoward

Heaval is a superb walk – I loved seeing the ‘Madonna and Child’ monument near the summit – amazing thing to see up a hill in this country!

Liked by 1 person

13 05 2016
13 05 2016
mountaincoward

I can get to the link but it wants me to sign in with a Google account. I have one I used to use but can’t remember the sign in details 😦

Like

13 06 2015
fedup

Love the Outer Hebrides been over twice now – if only I could I would move there tomorrow! I use myHermes now for everything beside letters – cheap and everything is tracked.

Like

13 06 2015
mountaincoward

The ‘everything is tracked’ will be a comfort, especially in my case for films!

I was going to retire to the Hebs – I think I’ll be retiring to Cumbria now though…
Carol.

Like

1 06 2015
McEff

That was great, Carol, a real adventure story. I wonder how the loch got its name, or reputation, for beasts? I bet you wouldn’t spend a night there.
Alen

Like

1 06 2015
mountaincoward

Someone suggested it might just be as simplistic as there being an otter living there. I suppose, with the very literal naming which goes on in the Gaelic, maybe they’re right that’s all that was meant. I probably would spend a night there as I like spooky experiences 🙂

Like

27 05 2015
Blue Sky Scotland

Enjoyed reading about Wiay, There’s another one in Loch Bracadale on Skye. The highlands have always been up for grabs to the highest bidder since they smashed the clan system. Same thing is happening in London right now mind you in a more polite ethnic cleansing where entire districts are going upmarket forcing families to move much further north to afford bought or rented accommodation. It was in the papers last week.

Like

27 05 2015
mountaincoward

Our village has gone ‘upmarket’ like that – no Yorkshire/Dalesfolk about here any more 😦

Like

27 05 2015
razzah

What a great adventure that sounds, and what a shame the island is now being sold as a private shooting estate! My sister in law is from North Uist but I have never been. I hope to one day.

Like

27 05 2015
mountaincoward

You need to get to the Hebs sometime – they’re wonderful once you get away from the main road down the middle. The east side has lovely mountains and moorland and the west has superb beaches – unbeatable!

Liked by 1 person

26 05 2015
tessapark1969

Good post and looked a nice day though I would have been panicking about the boat pickup!!

Like

26 05 2015
mountaincoward

We were a bit – there were no mobiles in those days either!

Like

24 05 2015
Haunted Hebrides | The Adventures of a Mountain Coward

[…] link to my ‘Haunted Hebrides’ post above […]

Like

24 05 2015
underswansea

Fantastic photos. It sounds like a wonderful place. It is a shame what it’s future may be. Our government continues to sell off huge tracks of land to all kinds of companies with nefarious plans. Sometimes the deals are done before it is made public. It burns my ass when I think about it. Thank you for your post. I always enjoy your travels. Bob

Like

24 05 2015
mountaincoward

The shooting parties aside, one of the things I hate about it all most is that they’re taking a peaceful island and making it only available to people with lots of money – everyone else is excluded.

Like

23 05 2015
Lily Lau

Wow, your photos are stunning…

Like

23 05 2015
mountaincoward

Thanks Lily – it’s more just the beauty of the landscape up there 🙂
Carol.

Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: