As the world gets smaller, and our carbon footprint matters more, the Outer Hebrides remain completely unspoiled by mass tourism and too many cars. Though remote, South Uist is well served by ferries and planes, and is surprisingly easy to get to.
Boisdale House is perfectly positioned in the south east of the island for transport links to and from the other islands and the mainland. Lochboisdale is six miles round the loch by road, or straight across by canoe. The island of Eriskay (linked to South Uist by causeway) is six miles south, along one of the most beautiful coast roads imaginable. Benbecula, the next island to the north is 30 minutes away and again is linked by causeway.
As the world gets smaller, and our carbon footprint matters more, the Outer Hebrides remain completely unspoiled by mass tourism and too many cars. Though remote, South Uist is well served by ferries and planes, and is surprisingly easy to get to. Click tabs below for information.
www.ba.com – Daily flights from Heathrow/Gatwick via Glasgow to Benbecula (30 minutes drive from house). If flying you can arrange to hire a car through MacLennan‘s Car Hire (Tel: 01870 602191), which you can pick up at the airport.
www.calmac.co.uk – Ferries from Oban (mainland) to Lochboisdale and from Uig (Skye) to Lochmaddy (North Uist) both within easy reach of Boisdale House.
www.rail.co.uk – Sleeper or day train to Oban, then ferry to Lochboisdale.
Landscape & Nature
South Uist is an island of outstanding beauty and contrasts that has plenty to offer anyone who wants to escape from the stresses of working life for a week or two. The eastern side of the island is rocky, with a rugged chain of hills which are populated with deer, golden eagles and sheep and are perfect for climbing on a clear day for views right across the island and over the Minch to the inner isles. The west coast, in contrast, is fertile wild meadowland called machair, famous for its’ rare birdlife and wildflowers. The machair gives way to miles of white sandy beaches – always empty and breathtaking in all weathers. Pulverised shells make the sand glisten white and silver and the gulf stream coming in from America ensures that the sea is never too cold. Dolphins and porpoises sometimes come into the beaches, and seals can be seen basking on the rocks. Often on the crossing from Oban, the captain will point out basking sharks and the odd minky whale. There are beautiful brightly coloured shells, dunes for shelter, sea birds of all varieties and the remains of some Neolithic wheel houses.
Golf & Fishing
Whether professional or amateur, if golf is your thing, why not try a round at the recently restored 18 hole Old Tom Morris golf links at Askernish. Originally set out in 1891, this must be one of Scotland’s most stunning golf courses (www.askernishgolfclub.com).
Fishing is always popular in the Hebrides. The lochs inland have plenty of trout and salmon, and sea fishing can easily be arranged locally for mackerel, pollack, gurnard, lobster, crab and langoustines. In the summer, puffins live on the stac rocks on the east coast, and from a boat or a ferry the cormorants, shags, guillemots and gannets are magnificent to watch as they dive for fish. Cockles can be collected from the tidal beach at South Glendale, opposite Eriskay on South Uist, and at the causeway going north to Benbecula and a plentiful supply of mussels can be found at Loch Aynort, on the east coast. For any information about fishing or shooting, please contact the owner, Victoria Hayes.
Food & Drink
For those seeking food and drink, there are plenty of pubs and hotels up and down the islands. The nearest to Boisdale House is the Polochar Inn (Tel 01878 700215) , a couple of miles south, right at the bottom of the island, with superb views to Barra and Eriskay. It is open all afternoon for food, and has an open fire, snooker table and outdoor terrace. Good local food is to be found at the Orasay Inn, Lochcarnan (Tel 01870 610298)and at the Tigh Dearg Hotel in Lochmaddy, North Uist (www.tighdearghotel.co.uk, (Tel 01876 500 700), where the food is reasonably priced, home made and you can expect a warm welcome.
On the way back south, visit The Hebridean Smokehouse – half a mile from the Clachan crossroads – where you can buy delicious trout, scallops and salmon, smoked on the premises, local fudge, preserves and jellies, Richard Bramble pottery, locally crafted silver jewellery and knitwear (www.hebrideansmokehouse.com, Tel 01876 580209).
A little bit of culture…
For the more culturally minded, many small galleries open up in the summer for an “Art on the Map” trail, where you can view or buy local paintings, hand woven tweed, locally dyed wool, handmade soaps, pottery, jewellery and much else. Maps showing the location of each gallery can be readily obtained from The Tourist Offices in Lochboisdale and Lochmaddy, on the ferries, and from most shops and pubs. The Kildonan Museum is a good place to learn about the island‘s history, and has a very good café for lunch, along with a shop selling books, postcards and local crafts.
A little further north is the village at Howmore, with some good examples of inhabited croft houses (one is the youth hostel). Near the hostel are the remains of a church and four chapels, all in ruins but dating back to the 1200’s and situated on beautiful machair land. It is an evocative place with some fine Celtic crosses and breathtaking views to the hills on the east coast. Flora Macdonald was born on South Uist – at Milton where there is a memorial cairn to her – and it was from Uist that she rowed Bonnie Prince Charlie over the sea to Skye as he escaped from the English armies.Further north, at Eochar, is the Hebridean Jewellery Workshop, where Hebridean jewellery is made and sold. The shop attached to the workshop sells books, CD’s ceramics and glassware and has a café selling homemade food.
Isle of South Uist