3, Mar 2024
Western Isles

The isles of Barra, North & South Uists, Benbecula, Harris and Lewis make up the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles, as they are alternatively known.  Situated on the extreme North West of Scotland, the Hebrides are known as the “Long Island” as they stretch for over 100 miles. The islands are steeped in history and culture, ranging back thousands of years.

The Isle of Lewis is the most northern of the Western Isles. and Stornoway is the main town on the Isle of Lewis and is also the home of the Western Isles Council. Just over 6,000 people live in the town, which represents about a third of the total population of the island.  Barra and Vatersay are the most southerly islands.  Two ferries and numerous causeways join the islands together, giving a stepping stones feel to the islands.

They form part of the archipelago of the Hebrides, separated from the Scottish mainland and from the Inner Hebrides by the waters of the Minch, the Little Minch, and the Sea of the Hebrides.

The Highland Clearances of the 19th century had a devastating effect on many communities, and it is only in recent years that population levels have ceased to decline. Much of the land is now under local control, and commercial activity is based on tourism, crofting, fishing, and weaving.

Sea transport is crucial, and a variety of ferry services operate between the islands and to mainland Scotland. Modern navigation systems now minimise the dangers, but in the past the stormy seas have claimed many ships. Religion, music and sport are important aspects of local culture, and there are numerous designated conservation areas to protect the natural environment.

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