A Visit to Tranquil Vatersay

Most of the outer islands of Scotland are uninhabited, lying silent in their isolation, except for Vatersay, the Western Isles’ most southerly populated area. Due to the small size of the island, the village on the island carries the same name, and it is one of the few villages that have been populated for thousands of years. It is a peaceful and quaint destination, with a fascinating history, wonderful wildlife and a few noteworthy attractions.

The island of Vatersay is almost in the shape of the letter “H”, with a narrow stretch of land preventing it from being split into two islands. Is was once owned by Lady Gordon Cathcart, but by 1906 and after owning the island for fifty-six years, land reform pressures led to the uprising of the Vatersay Raiders, trying to fight for their ancient land and forced the Government to buy the land and divide it evenly in 1909.

Beef and lobster fishing became the two most important industries for the people of Vatersay during the 1900s, and while they produced prized cattle, there was one obstacle to overcome: getting their stock to the main land over the two hundred and fifty meter watery stretch that dived them from Barra. In 1989, construction on a causeway to join Vatersay and Barra started and although it was only completed in 1991, it was speculated that the causeway was being used by locals even before the tar was laid.

There are two very rare finds on Vatersay, namely the corncrake and Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Flowers. Besides the spectacular views, visitors will also be able to catch a glimpse of seals, otters and herons while exploring the island. Amongst the attractions on the island, are the ruins of an Iron Age Fort, the old school house and the church that was constructed in 1913. The abandoned village of Eorasdail can be reached on foot and the Annie Jane memorial is a somber reminder of the emigrant ship that ran aground in raging storms on 28 September 1853. Islanders did their best to save the crew and passengers but ended up having to bury three hundred and fifty people behind the sand dunes. The remains of an RAF Catalina Flying Boat JX273 also lie shattered near the Vatersay Bay, where miraculously six of the nine-man crew on board survived after crashing on the island in 1944.

Approximately a hundred people inhabit Vatersay, and it remains an untouched and tranquil destination in Scotland. Accommodation is available in Barra for visitors who want to enjoy the peacefulness, beauty and charm of the islands.