Outer Hebridean Islands of Scotland
- Mingulay, North Uist and St Kilda
South of Barra and Vattersay, Mingulay is reached by a 19 mile journey by motor-boat. It is uninhabited apart from a huge bird population - the 600 feet cliffs are home to large numbers of puffins. The deserted village on the island is said to be haunted. The Mingulay Boat Song> has made the island better known than many in the area.
Uist is from the Norse word "i-vist" meaning a house and the Vikings were settled here for many centuries. North Uist has an area of 118 square miles and a population of around 1,500 (down from 5,000 in early 19th century). Although it is quite fertile (helped by quantities of seaweed as fertiliser) nearly half the area is under water. The island has many sandy beaches on the west and north coasts but the east coast is more rocky and there are many sea lochs cutting deeply inland.
There is a ferry to Tarbert and Leverburgh further North on Harris and to Uig on Skye. North Uist is also linked to Benbecula by a causeway. The main port on North Uist is at Lochmaddy.
There are a number of Neolithic chambered cairns on the island and also Bronze Age standing stones. The MacDonalds of Sleat, descendants of the Norse King, Somerled, held the island from 1495 to 1855.
110 Miles West of the Scottish mainland, St Kilda is a small group of islands consisting of Hirta (the largest, also known as St Kilda), Soay, Boreray and Dun. There are cliffs rising from the sea to 1,400 feet, the highest in Europe. The population of St Kilda, depended on the seabirds to provide food and produce to export. It was estimated that the 200 islanders ate over 200,000 seabirds in a year. The islands have been inhabited for over 3,000 years and latterly the islands were owned by the MacLeods of Harris who collected rent right up until the remaining 37 islanders were evacuated in 1930. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, there are cruises to the archipelago in summer time. However, landing on the islands is uncertain due to the stormy weather
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