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Report - Derelict Crofts on the Outer Hebrides - Scotland - July 2019


The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Moderator
Derelict Crofts on the Outer Hebrides - Scotland

2 weeks spent out on the Outer Hebrides; these lie to the West of the mainland and only really St Kilda stands in the way of nothing else until the USA and Canada. they are made up of 15 inhabited islands and have a total population of 27,000 and there are more than 50 substantial uninhabited islands. My trip took us around these South Uist, Benbecular, North Uist, Barra, Eriskay, Berneray, Harris, Lewis, Scalpay and Great Bernera; a great set of islands. a mixture of ferry crossings and causeways connecting the islands, even threw in a bit of sea kayaking to visit some of the remoter spots.

Abandoned crofts are not uncommon on the islands on the West Coast of Scotland. Peoples needs change, communities die out as the younger generations move away and set up life on the mainland. It's a tough life living in the Outer Hebrides and when the homes were left empty because someone had passed away often there was no one left to take over the house. Those who remain often upgrade their houses, so the previous one is just left to decay not far away from the new one. This practice has gone on across the generations as often older footprints and ramshackled walls of old buildings still lie in the area of a croft. Local people don't like selling them on especially on the Uist's and prefer to let them return to the island.

I ended up here out of choice, great beaches and landscapes, wildlife is stunning, sea kayaking is brilliant, and apart from Lewis was somewhere I'd not visited before. It was a holiday, but as with all good holidays once the rest of the family are contented I can then play out, rain on the first week meant I had plenty of time to head out.

First up was a stunning croft a bit of a stroll after the single track road stopped on the Island of Benbecular - East Gerinish. By the time I wandered the short distance I could have wrung my underpants out, the Outer Hebrides are also very exposed to wind, keeps the midges away but when combined with the rain you just get wet even in posh water proofs.

The croft is a bit innocuous from outside, but was a welcome shelter from the weather.

Croft.jpg


Worth the trouble to find, the old range still intact slowly being buried in sheep droppings.

Range Within a Derelict Croft - South Uist.jpg


Upstairs an old dresser and pink walls. The pink walls seems to be a regular wall colour in the many crofts I visited. Possibly to brighten up the place during the harsh dark winters and bleak summers, the woman would also have spent more time in the crofts, or who knows a container of pink paint got washed up on a beach and was put to good use.

croft 2.jpg


Abandoned Croft - South Uist.jpg


Returning home I passes a cove with a couple of old fishing boats, seems derelicts boats are just as common on the Outer Hebrides, some are well away from the coast too.

Derelict Fishing Boats - South Uist.jpg


Abandoned Boats and Lobster Pot - South Uist.jpg


A few days later I was free to roam again, this place had looked interesting from afar. A traditional thatched croft on South Uist, stones on ropes weighing the roof down from the weather.

Crof 3.jpg


Inside was a little more modern, only took a few photos again as water logged underpants sort of kills creative shots. Cupbords were full of old tins and the general feel was the people had just left, well until you take in the slowly rotting roof and decaying timbers.

Derelict Thaatched Croft - South Uist.jpg


A derelict Croft in South Uist.jpg


Not too far a way was another stone croft, the weather had seen the better of it as 2 of the walls had collapsed. However the old gas light on the window ledge and what's left of the living area made it worth a visit.

Inside a Derelict Croft - South Uist.jpg


Upstairs the bedroom was still intact.

Bed in a Derelict Croft - South Uist.jpg


I visited quite a few crofts on South and North Uist, as well as Benbecular, all had their own charm. Stumbled across this bounding on Benbecular, I have a feeling it was an old village hall or school, lots of playground toys inside. Not been in many places with this much pigeon poo either, it's been stood empty for quite a few years.

Croft 4.jpg


Abandoned Village Hall - Benbecular.jpg


Derelict Village Hall - Benbecular.jpg


Benbecular Derelict Village Hall.jpg


That finished the visits to South Uist, Benbecular and North Uist, a quick trip on a ferry to me to Harris and Lewis. Again many abandoned crofts, distances suddenly get bigger here so didn't get out as often as I wanted.

First croft was near Arnol on Lewis, poor weather again meant a few snaps and retreat.

Abandoned Croft - Arnol - Isle of Lewis.jpg


Dresser in a Lewis Croft.jpg


Living Room in Abandoned Arnol Croft - Isle of Lewis.jpg


Kitchen - Lewis Croft.jpg


The last croft I visited on Lewis was my favourite, old looms were still in place on both floors and bags of wool ready to be woven. The whole building was interesting and if on the mainland would probably be called a silly name and there would be full reports on it. In a way I wish I'd taken more detailed shots inside myself, but mainly due to the weather had adopted a quick look inside, couple of photos and retreat to the car approach.

Derelict Croft on the Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides.jpg


Wool and Loom in a Derelict Lewis Croft.jpg


Old Loom in a Lewis Croft.jpg


Loom In a Lewis Croft.jpg


Loom and machinery - Lewis Croft.jpg


Well that's it, a fair few enjoyable mooches across the Outer Hebrides. All are small, most are interesting even if just shells and a nice way to see the past heritage of the islands.

Many more no doubt on the Islands that I missed, they aren't epic explores, but a nice addition to a holiday and get to see the more far flung corners of the islands.

Cheers,

TLR.​
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Fantastic write up. Very interesting. Loving your pics mate.:cool::thumbReminds me of an experiment on TV "1900 house" 4 families in 4 cottages in the Outer Hebrides,On an unoccupied Island, living a 1900 life, making a fishing community to survive.. It gave us narration on the villages dying out & why etc. This is very similar. Great stuff. :D
 

dave

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Stunning pics i love these sort of places. Ive often longed for this sort of life remote hard work but beautiful surrounding.
 

mookster

grumpy sod
Regular User
Beautiful, decay at it's finest far away from civilisation. I'm heading up Scotland way in November but I don't think that would be the best time of year to approach these :p
 

The Lone Ranger

Safety is paramount!
Staff member
Moderator
Thanks all, pleasantly surprised with the comments. I enjoyed seeing the old crofts but didn't know if other folk would too.

The location of some of them you can tell life was harsh, East side of the Uist's are very infertile for growing crops that's why the vast majority of the tiny villages are on the West. I thought there would be great sea food to be had on the Islands, but was told foraging for seafood was a sign you had run out of money and food and this was the final resort not to starve, that legacy / stigma still seems to live on again probably more so on the Uist's.
 

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