Grand Tour of Scotland: Day 10: 21 August 2019 ~Exploring the Isle of Lewis and Harris #588


Scalpay is around 4 kilometers (2+1⁄2 miles) long and rises to 104 meters (341 feet) at Beinn Scorabhaig. The area of Scalpay is 653 hectares (2+1⁄2 sq mi). The main settlement on the island is at the north, near the bridge, clustered around An Acairseid a Tuath (North Harbour).

The bedrock of northwest and southeast Scalpay is Archaean gneiss belonging to the Lewisian Complex. Across the island’s center is a band of mylonite and protocataclasite associated with the Outer Hebrides Thrust Zone. Some restricted occurrences of amphibolite and ultramafic rocks are also present. Several tholeiitic dykes of Tertiary age cross the island with an NW-SE alignment. Scalpay is mainly free from superficial deposits apart from an area of peat in the northeast. 

The island is peppered with small lochans. The largest of these is Loch an Duin (Loch of the Fort) which has a tiny island in it, with the fort’s remains still visible. Eilean Glas, a small peninsula on Scalpay’s eastern shore, is home to the first lighthouse built in the Outer Hebrides.

Scalpay’s nearest neighbor, Harris, is just 300 meters (1,000 feet) away across the narrows of Caolas Scalpaigh. In 1997, a bridge from Harris to Scalpay was built, replacing a ferry service.

In 1746, Charles Edward Stuart fled to Scalpay after his forces were defeated at the Battle of Culloden.

Scalpay is home to many Gaelic singers and psalm precentors. The island used to have more than 10 shops over 30 years ago, but due to a lack of people and work, the last shop closed in 2007. There also used to be a salmon factory, a prominent local employer from 2001 until its closure in 2005. In the spring of 2009, local newspapers reported that the factory would reopen as a net-washing facility to support the local fish farming industry. In 2012, the Scalpay community bought and opened a community shop/café, Buth Scalpaigh.

Photographer Marco Secchi lived on Scalpay for a few years between 2002-2008. He documented the life and landscape of the Outer Hebrides.

In 2011 the island’s owner, Fred Taylor, announced that he proposed handing over the land to the local population. One proposal was that the island would be owned by a local development trust or form part of the larger North Harris Trust, itself community owned. Islanders voted to accept the gift and assume community ownership of the island. They will partner with the North Harris Community Trust to run the island.

Shipwreck, Scalpay, Isle of Harris, Scotland, United Kingdom

Thank you very much for taking the time to join me on my travels through Scotland one Photo at a time. I hope you enjoyed it just as much as I did.

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PS.  I am busy saving for a few upcoming Landscape Photography Trips to Scotland, Namibia, a few road trips in the USA including Route 66, and a few local National Parks and Botanical gardens in South Africa. The most important trip is honoring my promise to Dad to return to Scotland and capture the beautiful landscapes and Puffins. Your help to make these trips a reality would be much appreciated in today’s economy.

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