An distinctive conical island of the Western Isles, Pabbay (Gael: Pabaigh) lies at the northern end of the Sound of Harris, the stretch of water separating South Harris from North Uist to the south. The island lies 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Toe Head and has an area of 820 ha (2026 acres). Uninhabited through much of the year, the only settlement, Baile-na-Cille, is located close to the south coast, while the only peak, Beinn a' Charnain, lies to the northeast and rises to a height of 196m (642 feet). A system of climbing dunes, with associated machair, is located on the south coast of the island, considered to be the best example of this habitat in the Outer Hebrides.

Once known as the 'Granary of Harris' due to the many crops produced on its soil, which was fertile compared to the rocky South Harris. The Macleods of Harris were based here until the early 1500s and, later, the Steward of St. Kilda lived here and sailed to that island twice per year, until the 19th century, to collect rents. The island supported a population of more than three hundred and the islanders were known for distilling illicit whisky. It took many years before the government excisemen were able to prove this charge and the landowner, who had previously tolerated the practice, used this as an excuse to clear the island for sheep in the 1840s. By 1846, there was only one shepherd and his family remaining on the island.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better