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North Uist

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North Uist

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North Uist or Uibhist A Tuathis is an island in the Outer Hebrides, north of Benbecula and south of Harris, with a total population of only about 1,200 people, and is about 20 miles from north to south. It is generally flat and covered, especially in the north and east, by a very large number of lochans, or small lakes. It has no built up settlements, generally having a dispersed population scattered mainly over its western side, where the machair provides grazing for crofting. Despite this its history and culture is fascinating, and there are facilities for back-packing, camping and cycling.


North Uist, like the rest of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, has a long history of neglect by its landlords, and suffered from waves of clearances of the native population, as well as suppression of its native Gaelic language and culture. This has now changed and the island is showing signs of a revival in its fortunes. Unlike South Uist this is a predominantly Protestant island and the Sabbath is observed seriously here, and visitors should be aware of this, although North Uist is a little more relaxed than the more northerly islands of Harris and Lewis, where Sabbath observation can be very strict.


  • Lochmaddy. Hardly a city, but a small settlement with a harbour, a couple of decent hotels, an information office, and one or two simple shops. The arts centre Taigh Chearsabhagh is to be found here.

Get in

By boat

  • 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. Takes vehicles.

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

Berneray to Leverburgh on Harris Daily 3-4 per day, taking 1 hour. Berneray is connected to North Uist by a causeway. A small ferry but takes vehicles.

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


North Uist is linked by causeway to Benbecula to the South and Berneray to the North. On route south to Benbecula the causeway first links to Grimsay, a small island worth exploration for its rugged coast and inlets, fishing harbour, and a number of archaeological sites.

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 Car

Cars will need to have been transported by CalMac ferry. With the exception of part of the Carinish or Cairinis to Lochmaddy Road, all roads are single-track with passing places. It's important to learn the etiquette of driving on these roads, as well as taking special care.

By Bus

There are reasonable 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. Traigh Lingeigh is a safe shallow suitable for snorkelling.
  • Balranald RSPB reserve [2]. Where corncrakes can be heard, if rarely seen. Allow 2 or 3 hours for the circular walk.
  • Taigh Chearsabhagh [3] in Lochmaddy. This is an excellent art centre with a museum and gallery, a cafe, post office 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.
  • There are several prehistoric sites worth visiting, including Barpa Langass, (NF 838657) a 5000 year old burial chamber, and the nearby Pobull Finn (Finn's People), a stone circle (NF 842650). Both accessible from the A687 Lochmaddy to Carinish Road and the islands lochans often contain interesting remains of duns, or fortified houses.
  • Dun An Sticir (NF 907794) an excellent example of an Iron Age broch reached across a causeway. Off the road to Berneray.
  • Scolpaig Tower (NF 731750) a folly c.1830 on a small islet that can be reached at shallow water close to the A865.
  • Teampall Na Trionaid (NF 816603) The Church of the Holy Trinity - an early Christian site close to Cairinis (Carinish) and next to the site of a battleground.


Walk, cycle; visit the numerous artists studios; enjoy the unspoiled natural landscapes; North Uist is excellent for bird-watching and the coasts abound with sea-life.


  • Hebridean Smokehouse, Clachan, Locheport HS6 5HD for really excellent smoked salmon and other smokery gifts
  • Co-op at Sollas [4], open Mon-Sat 8.30-18.00.
  • Grocer in Lochmaddy
  • Shop at Bayhead
  • Shop at Clachan


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.


The information office, near to the harbour, will provide information on bed and breakfast and camping as well as hotels. Mainland tourist information centres will also book ahead for you.


  • 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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