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North Uist
Location
North Uist is located in Scotland
North Uist
North Uist shown within Scotland
OS grid reference NF835697
Names
Gaelic name About this sound Uibhist a Tuath
Meaning of name From "inni-vist", Old Norse for "dwelling"
Area and summit
Area 30,305 hectares (117 sq mi)
Area rank 10
Highest elevation Eaval 1,138 ft (347 m)
Population
Population (2001) 1,271
Population rank 11 out of 97
Main settlement Lochmaddy
Groupings
Island group Uists and Barra
Local Authority Na h-Eileanan Siar
Flag of Scotland.svg Lymphad3.svg
References [1][2][3][4][5]
If shown, area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively.

North Uist (Scottish Gaelic: Uibhist a Tuath, pronounced [ˈɯ.ɪʃtʲ ə t̪ʰuə]) is an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.

Contents

Physical geography

North Uist is the tenth largest Scottish island[6] and the thirteenth largest island surrounding Great Britain.[7] It has an area of 117 square miles (303 km2),[2] slightly smaller than South Uist. North Uist is connected by causeways to Benbecula via Grimsay, to Berneray, and to Baleshare. With the exception of the south east, the island is very flat, and covered with a patchwork of peat bogs, low hills and lochans, with more than half the land being covered by water. Some of the lochs contain a mixture of fresh and tidal salt water, giving rise to some complex and unusual habitats. Loch Sgadabhagh, about which it has been said "there is probably no other loch in Britain which approaches Loch Scadavay in irregularity and complexity of outline", is the largest loch by area on North Uist although Loch Obisary has about twice the volume of water.[8]

Settlements

The main settlement on the island is Lochmaddy, a fishing port and home to a museum, an arts centre and a camera obscura. Caledonian MacBrayne ferries sail from the village to Uig on Skye, as well as from the island of Berneray (which is connected to North Uist by road causeway), to Leverburgh in Harris. Lochmaddy also has Taigh Chearsabhagh - a museum and arts centre with a cafe, small shop and post office service. Nearby is the Uist Outdoor Centre.

The island's main villages are Sollas, Hosta, Tigharry, Hougharry, Paible, Grimsay and Cladach Kirkibost. Other settlements include Clachan Carinish, Knockquien, Port nan Long, Greinetobht and Scolpaig, home to the nineteenth century Scolpaig Tower folly.

According to the 2001 census North Uist had a population of 1,271, (1,320 including Baleshare).[9 ]

Places of interest

North Uist has many prehistoric structures, including the Barpa Langass chambered cairn, the Pobull Fhinn stone circle, the Fir Bhreige standing stones, the islet of Eilean Dòmhnuill (which may be the earliest crannog site in Scotland),[10] and the Baile Sear roundhouses, which were exposed by storms in January, 2005.[11]

The island is known for its birdlife, including corncrakes, arctic terns, gannets, corn buntings and Manx shearwaters. The RSPB has a nature reserve at Balranald.[12]

Despite limited facilities, the island's athletics club (North Uist Amateur Athletics Club) has performed well at local, regional and national athletics competitions.

Etymology

In Sir Donald Munro's A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland Called Hybrides of 1549, North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist are described as one island of Ywst (Uist). Starting in the south of this 'island', he described the division between South Uist and Benbecula where "the end heirof the sea enters, and cuts the countrey be ebbing and flowing through it".[13] Further north of Benbecula he described North Uist as "this countrey is called Kenehnache of Ywst, that is in Englishe, the north head of Ywst".[13]

Some have given the etymology of Uist from Old Norse meaning "west",[2] much like Westray in the Orkney Islands.[14] Another speculated derivation from Old Norse is Ivist,[4] derived from vist meaning "an abode, dwelling, domicile".[15] "Ívist" was the name used for Uist in the Old Norse sagas. A Gaelic etymology is also possible, with I-fheirste meaning "Crossings-island" or "Fords-island", derived from I meaning "island" and fearsad meaning "estuary, sand-bank, passage across at ebb-tide".[14][16] Other place-names derived from fearsad include Fersit, and Belfast.[16]

In a paper of 1988, Richard Coates compares the placename Uist with the Balearic island name Ibiza.[17]

Population

In the eighteenth century the total population of the combined Uists rose dramatically, before the population crash of the Highland Clearances. In 1755, there was an estimated combined population on the Uists, of 4,118; by 1794 it rose to 6,668; and in 1821 to 11,009.[2]

North Uist
The pre-clearance population of North Uist was about 5,000 and it has dwindled to about 1,300 people in 2001.

pre 1820s[18]
1841
1881
1891
1931
1961
1971
1981
1991
2001[9 ]
abt 5,000
3,870
3,398
3,250
2,349
1,622
1,469
1,454
1,404
1,271

From Haswell-Smith (2004)[2] except as stated.

History

After the Norse occupation of the Western Isles the MacRuairidhs controlled the island.[2] North Uist was granted to Macdonald of Sleat in 1495,[19] and remained in possession of the Macdonald's of Sleat until 1855, when it was sold to Sir John Powlett Ord.[18] Today the island is owned by the Granville family through the North Uist Trust.[18]

The force-fire was last made in North Uist in about 1829.

North Uist and the Clearances

North Uist was hit hard during the Highland Clearances, and there was large scale emigration from the island to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.[20 ] The pre-clearance population of North Uist had been almost 5,000,[18] though by 1841 it had fallen to 3,870,[19] and has further dwindled to about 1,300 people today. The clearances occurred later on North Uist, which was predominately Presbyterian, than on South Uist which was mostly Roman Catholic.[20 ]

The main reason for the massive scale of emigration was the failure of the island's kelp industry. Since the French Revolutionary Wars the kelp industry had been North Uist's main source of income.[20 ] Though with the collapse of their main source of income the crofters of North Uist could not afford the high rents.[20 ] Even as the landlords reduced the rents, such as in 1827 when the rents were reduced by 20%, many crofters were forced to emigrate.[20 ]

The first real clearances on North Uist occurred in the 1820s.[20 ] In 1826 the villages of Kyles Berneray, Baile Mhic Phail and Baile mhic Conon, located on the north-east corner of North Uist, were cleared of their inhabitants. Although some moved further east to Loch Portain, most of those affected moved to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.[20 ] The effect of this is shown in the rental roll of 1827, which states that over fifty families had "Gone to America", meaning Cape Breton.[20 ] As the economic conditions worsened and with reports of islanders succeeding overseas, the numbers of families emigrating from Scotland to North America greatly increased.[20 ] In 1838 1,300 people from North Uist were recorded as being cleared. It is misconception that most families involved in the clearances were "cleared" from their holdings, though in 1849 there was rioting as 603 inhabitants from Sollas were forcefully cleared by Lord Macdonald.[21 ] In the incident the women of Sollas took large part in the rioting.[22] As a detachment of Glasgow police officers advanced on the protesters, the Sollas men were said to have stood aside, but the women of Sollas stood up to the authorities, and pelted the police with rocks. The police then descended upon the Sollas folk and attacked them with their truncheons.[23] In fact a Hebredian settlement in Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia was originally called Sollas (now Woodbine).[24][25] North Uist surnames affected during the clearances were the MacAulays, MacCodrums, MacCuishs, and MacDonalds.[20 ]

Famous residents

Gallery

Bibliography

  • Johnson, Alison(1989) Islands in the Sound: Wildlife in the Hebrides: London; Victor Gollancz ISBN 0575046406
  • Murray, Sir John and Pullar, Laurence (1908) Bathymetrical Survey of the Fresh-Water Lochs of Scotland, 1897-1909. London; Royal Geographical Society.

Footnotes

  1. ^ 2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland
  2. ^ a b c d e f Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543.  
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey. Get-a-map [map].
  4. ^ a b edited by Munch & Goss (1874). "The Chronicles of Mann vol 22.". Isle of Man: Manx Society. http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/manxsoc/msvol22/author.htm. Retrieved 31 October 2007.  
  5. ^ Geir T. Zoëga (1910). "A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic". Germanic Lexicon Project. http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/png/oi_zoega/b0229.png. Retrieved 4 July 2007.  
  6. ^ List of islands of Scotland
  7. ^ List of European islands by area
  8. ^ Murray and Pullar (1908) "Lochs of North Uist" Pages 188-89, Volume II, Part II. National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Number of residents and households in all inhabited islands" (PDF). General Register Office for Scotland. http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files1/stats/occasional-paper-10-table1.pdf. Retrieved 17 October 2007.  
  10. ^ Armit, Ian (1998). Scotland's Hidden History. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Tempus. ISBN 0752414003.  
  11. ^ Ross, John (11 July 2007). "Race to study Iron Age roundhouses before they are lost to sea storms". The Scotsman. http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=1079032007. Retrieved 4 December 2007.  
  12. ^ "Wildlife and habitats of Uist". Scottish Natural Heritage. http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/wisles/wisles.asp. Retrieved 6 January 2008.  
  13. ^ a b "A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland Called Hybrides". Undiscovered Scotland. http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usebooks/monro-westernislands/index.html. Retrieved 31 October 2007.  
  14. ^ a b Thomas, F. W. L.. "Did the Northmen extirpate the Celtic Inhabitants of the Hebrides in the Ninth Century?". Proc. Soc. of Antiq. Scot 11: 475–476.  
  15. ^ Cleasby, Richard and Vigfusson, Gudbrand (1874). "An Icelandic-English dictionary". Germanic Lexicon Project. p. 711. http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/png/oi_cleasbyvigfusson/b0711.png. Retrieved 6 January 2008.  
  16. ^ a b fearsaideag "An Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language". http://www.ceantar.org/Dicts/MB2/mb17.html#fearsaideag fearsaideag. Retrieved 31 October 2007.  
  17. ^ Coates, Richard (1988) Toponymic Topics. Essays on the early toponymy of the British Isles Brighton Younsmere Press
  18. ^ a b c d Hebridean Princess Scotland Retrieved on 17 October 2007
  19. ^ a b North Uist (Uibhist a Tuath) Retrieved on 14 October 2007
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lawson, Bill. "From The Outer Hebrides to Cape Breton - Part II". The Global Gazette. 10 September 1999. Retrieved on 14 October 2007
  21. ^ History of Scotland The Highland Clearances Retrieved on 16 October 2007
  22. ^ Island Fling, September, 2002. Vancouver Island Scottish Country Dance Society. Retrieved on 17 October 2007
  23. ^ MacQuarrie, Brian. "In search of Scottish roots". Boston Globe Retrieved on 17 October 2007
  24. ^ Turas Rannsachaidh dha 'n Albainn: Research Trip to Gaelic Scotland Retrieved on 16 October 2007
  25. ^ Places in Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia Retrieved on 16 October 2007

External links

Coordinates: 57°36′N 7°20′W / 57.6°N 7.333°W / 57.6; -7.333


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North Uist is an island in the Outer Hebrides.

  • Caledonian MacBrayne, [1]. Citylink coaches generally connect with the ferries on the mainland.

Uig on Skye to Lochmaddy on North Uist Mon-Sun 1 or 2 per day taking 1 hour 45 minutes.

Oban to Lochboisdale on South Uist 4 per week, taking 5+ hours.

Berneray to Leverburgh on Harris Daily 3-4 per day, taking 1 hour. Berneray is connected to North Uist by a causeway.

By air

In the Outer Hebrides, there are airports in Stornoway in Lewis, Benbecula and Barra. These airports provide direct flights to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. The nearest to North Uist is Benbecula

Causeways

North Uist is linked by causeway to Benbecula to the South and Berneray to the North.

By Bus

Buses link North Uist with Benbecula, and Berneray. As part of the Western Isles Overland Route combination of bus and ferry, you can travel in under a day from Stornoway or Castlebay on Barra.

Get around

By Bus

There are good bus services during the day Mon - Sat, but little in the evening and no buses on a Sunday.

  • There are many fine sandy beaches, mainly on the Western shore of North Uist.
  • Balranald RSPB reserve [2].
  • Taigh Chearsabhagh [3] in Lochmaddy. This is an art centre with a museum and gallery, a cafe and a shop. Also worth seeing are the outdoor sculptures (ask inside for the guide leaflet).
  • The coastline around Lochmaddy and the road to Loch Portain is remarkable for the number of little sea lochans.
  • Co-op at Sollas [4], open Mon-Sat 8.30-18.00.
  • Grocer in Lochmaddy
  • Shop at Bayhead
  • Shop at Clachan

Eat

For evening meals see the Hotels section. There is a cafe in Taigh Chearsabhagh in Lochmaddy.

  • Lochmaddy Hotel
  • Westford, pub on the west side of the island.
  • There is a Gatliff hostel on nearby Berneray.
  • Uist Outdoor Centre in Lochmaddy[5].

Bed and Breakfasts

Some can be found on the tourist board website [6], but many are no longer listed due to the changes and "hassle".

  • The Old Courthouse Lochmaddy HS6 5AE +44 1876 500 358 Bed and Breakfast from 25 - 30 pounds per person per night. Around 10 minutes walk from the ferry.

Self Catering

Renting a house for a week or more is a popular option. Such places are generally let from Saturday to Saturday. Some of these can be found on the tourist board website [7].

  • Tigh Dearg Hotel, Lochmaddy [8] 01876 500700 A new hotel (opened in 2005) located about 15 minutes walk from the ferry.
  • Lochmaddy Hotel [9] Tel: 01876 500331 An established hotel next the ferry terminal.
  • Langass Lodge, Locheport [10] 01876 580285
  • Temple View Hotel, Carinish [11] 01876 580676

Get out

Going North the next islands are Berneray then Harris and Lewis. Going South the next islands are Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay then Barra.

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