Things to do in and around North Uist
North Uist is in the middle of the group of Islands known as the Outer Hebrides, or Western Isles. The islands consist of the Isles of Lewis, Harris, Scalpay, Berneray, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay.
North Uist is a landscape of fresh and salt water lochs and lochans, in fact with more water than land. In higher altitude areas of the island it boasts some stunning views of land and water rich with birds, otters and our famous machair.
On the western side of the island there are miles of sandy beaches, and cultivated crofts, with miles and miles of machair (the fertile coastal grassland bordering the sand dunes), in the spring this becomes a bird watchers paradise. Please therefore do be careful when exercising dogs as birds do nest within the machair. On a clear day from the western coast you can get a very clear view of St Kilda.
St Kilda towers out of the storm-tossed waters of the Atlantic Ocean, with its cliffs and sea stacks, full of the cries of hundreds of thousands of seabirds clamouring for attention. If you get the chance to visit St Kilda, it also is well worth a visit, as some of the images below clearly show! (thanks Angus!).
North Uist is very popular with visiting boats, walkers, bird watchers, motor homers and cyclists.
The island is connected by causeway to Benbecula (and then South Uist), Berneray and Baleshare.
Lochmaddy is the main town and fishing port on the island and it has a population of approximately 300 people, within the town there are restaurants, a museum with a café and shop.
North Uist can be reached by ferry from Uig on Skye to Lochmaddy, or by the smaller ferry which weaves its way through the small islets of the Sound of Harris between Leverburgh on Harris to Berneray, which is itself connected by causeway to North Uist.
For visiting yachts and boats, Lochmaddy marina is a ‘safe haven’ in most weather conditions and offers nice facilities with a very friendly local community who welcome visitors from the sea.
Things to do and places to see
RSBP nature reserve – Balranald – Famous for its corncrakes and now one of europe’s most endangered birds.
Otter Spotting: Otter spotting is a popular island attraction on the east side of the island – because the landscape of inland and sea lochs, inlet bays and channels.
Fishing on North Uist The island is a mecca for anglers from all over the world, fishing for sea trout and salmon with guided trips available. (Fishing permits are required and available at Lochmaddy Hotel)
Visit the island of Berneray: The Isle of Berneray lies at the northern end of the Uists, but historically was part of South Harris. The island has a very active community with some significant attractions mainly cultural and related to the wonderful scenery. The landscape is mainly agricultural on the machair with breeding Corncrakes and other long grass nesting birds are common in early summer.
The village has a small shop and cafe, post office, picturesque fishing harbour, and a ferry pier for the connection to the Isle of Harris.
Uist Sculpture Trail Uist sculpture trail is a pathway via a series of seven commissioned sculptures by artists from Uist and Benbecula.
Barba Langass Barba Langass is a 5 thousand year old burial chamber, thought to be a burial place of a neolithic chief.
North lees walk This walk in the east of North Uist, starting only 1 mile south of Lochmaddy on the road to Langass, the walk is easy to follow with a path that crosses the coastal plain to reach the foot of North Lee, which then rises up the south west, slopes to 263m and then follows the ridge north at the top of North Lee.
This is a fantastic place to see eagles and providing spectacular uninterrupted views of Uist, Skye, Harris and Barra, and on a good day, St Kilda.
The walk is about 10 miles and will take about 4-5 hours.
Beaches For lovers of dazzling white shell sand beaches, birdwatching and lonely, haunting landscapes, North Uist is the place for you. Traigh Iar or West Beach is just one of the stunning miles of beaches where you can walk for miles and meet nobody. Sshh don’t tell anyone!
Hercules the Bear Situated in a forest just before Langass lodge, providing a lovely peaceful walk arriving at the statue and story of Hercules the Bear.
Trinity Temple Is a ruined 13th-century Augustinian nunnery at Carinish, on North Uist, its worth a visit and has spectacular views from the site.
Scolpaig Tower Situated on the north of the Island of North Uist, The folly was built on the site of an Iron Age broch by Dr Alexander Macleod in the 1830’s to provide work during a famine. Now open to the elements, it is a nesting place for birds. Walking beyond the folly there are spectacular views across to St Kilda and the West, the rocky rugged coast is spectacular in windy weather with waves crashing and thundering on the rocks.
The Kettle Spout is a bit further round from Scolpaig in Tigharry – this is a spectacular rock formation on the other edge of a cliff with amazing water spouting displays in windy weather.
Distillery North Uist Distillery is a family run distillery in the Outer Hebrides producing some of Scotland’s very finest artisan spirits including the multi award winning Downpour Gin – which has to be tried.
What to do on the water If you are spending a few days around Lochmaddy on your yacht, there are a few beautiful spots to visit.
As you enter or leave the Lochmaddy bay the rocks to the south of the entrance are called the Maddie’s, these stunning rocks are a great area for fishing and house nesting seabirds.
From Lochmaddy , travelling north, there is an easy sail to the sound of Harris boasting Caribbean coloured waters and beautiful shorelines.
Further north the Shiant islands are famous for breeding puffins and whale watching – yes whales – there is often sightings of pods of whales who can often be seen breeching out of the water in front of the boat – spectacular!!
Dolphins are very commonly sighted in the Minch, who will follow the bow of your boat and play in your wake.
Traveling south out of Lochmaddy bay there is the entrance to Locheport, a stunning tranquil spot to sink the anchor and relax for a meal or a drink – taking in the stunning scenery.
Places to eat
The Westford Inn – situated in the far north west of the island.
Berneray shop and Bistro – 500 meters from Berneray ferry pier.
Lochmaddy Hotel – in the centre of Lochmaddy 2 mins walk from the pontoons.
Hamersay House – situated 15 mins walk from the pontoon.
Langass Lodge – on the edge of the beautiful Locheport