North Uist

(Uibhist a Tuath)

Measuring twelve miles by sixteen (19 km by 26), the low-lying island of North Uist (Gael: Uibhist a Tuath) in the Outer Hebrides has fertile croftland on the west and a heavily indented coastline in the east that is deeply penetrated by Loch Maddy and Loch Eport. Its total area is 30,305 ha (74,884 acres) and its principal settlement is the ferry port of Lochmaddy. The island economy is based on crab and lobster fishing, scallop farming, crofting, tourism, weaving and knitting, bulb growing and the harvesting of seaweed to produce alginates. The MacDonalds from Sleat, who succeeded the MacRuaraidhs and eventually evicted many crofting tenants, owned the island from 1495 until 1855. In recent years, the population has slowly declined; 1620 (1961), 1469 (1971), 1399 (1981), 1404 (1991), 1271 (2001) and 1254 (2011). The lairds are now the Earls Granville, who live on the island and operate several businesses there.

The interior of the island is barren and inaccessible moorland, without settlement and crossed only by one road, the single-track Committee Road which connects Claddach Kyles and Malaclate. The island's principal road, represented by the A865 and A867, forms a loop, with the A865 extending south to Benbecula. The A893 connects this loop with the northern tip of the island and a causeway which links to the island of Berneray. From there a ferry service connects to Leverburgh in South Harris. North Uist's most significant summits are the in southeast of the island; namely Eaval (347m / 1138 feet), South Lee (281m / 922 feet) and North Lee (263m / 862 feet). Notable landmarks include the brochs of Dun an Sticer and Dun Torcuill, the pre-Reformation church of St. Columba in Clachan Sands, the ruins of the Mediaeval monastery and college of the Temple of the Trinity (Teampull na Trionaid) at Carinish and the adjacent Teampull Clann a' Phiocair, the chapel of the MacVicars who taught at the college.

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