Report - Vallay House, Vallay, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, 14 May 2014

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Death Valley is Mine
28DL Full Member
Apr 13, 2009
Quit reading now if you’re after a report filled with interesting artefacts and furniture inside a pristine mansion house – unfortunately this one is well beyond that in terms of its decay. But read on if you like the idea of a very remote island explore where the only other person you are likely to come across is a slightly aggressive heard of Highland Cows. That is, if you can even get to the island in the first place!

We were visiting North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and just off its Northerly coast lies the tidal island of Vallay. Unless you have a boat, you can only reach it on a low tide, and that is providing you can find your way over in the mist and fog. If the mist does come down, make sure you have logged in your SatNav exactly where you are aiming for, else it’s very easy to drive around in circles out “at sea†and get very, very lost – and potentially very wet.


On Vallay lies the former mansion house of Erskine Beveridge FRSE FSA(Scot) (27 December 1851 – 10 August 1920), who was a Scottish textile manufacturer and historian.





He commissioned the building of the house around 1901-02 to provide a more permanent base for his trips to the ‘edge of the world’. Named Vallay House, it was a baronial style mansion with a cement rendered exterior. Being on a tidal island with no fresh water supply, Beveridge had water piped across the strand. Following the construction of the house, Beveridge spent may summers on the island before his death in 1920, leaving the property to his son, who moved to nearby North Uist until his death in 1944.

After this the contents of the house were auctioned off and it has been abandoned ever since.

Considering the amount of time the place has been empty it's probably in reasonable condition, but with sections of the roof and internal floors having collapsed it probably won't be long before only the shell remains. Some remaining features reveal the faded glory though, such as original plaster ceilings and colourfully tiled fireplaces. Compared to just about every other property in the Outer Hebrides, this place is HUGE too.

When I visited previously the house was solidly boarded up (and had been for years). The gale force winds have seemingly taken their toll though over the winter, and there are currently a number of openings into the house. You can’t access the upper floors as the floorboards and mostly gone and downstairs is strewn with fallen timber preventing access to many parts. It’s in serious decay, and some sections you wouldn’t want to even venture into.




Some kind of old boiler / furnace?

Part of the old kitchen? Three very big sinks lying on the floor


Collapsed staircase:


Old tractor parked outside:

I've seen sturdier floorboards at West Park!:





More info about the house here: Vallay House, Vallay | Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland

How to get there
Check the tides and only venture across from North Uist at low tide, and make sure you know what time it’s due back in (BBC Weather - Tide Tables - Scolpaig). Tides rise real quickly around here. Either walk across or drive it in a 4x4 – there’s a track down to the beach from the main road on North Uist, and head for the ‘landing point’ just to the right of the mansion house on Vallay – it’s a bumpy approach, but relatively easy in a 4x4. Despite the tide being out there will be patches of sea water on the way across, including some ‘streams’ of water to ‘ford’, but keep moving and you’ll be fine. The sand is mostly hard and cars don’t tend to sink!
It’s also a great place for doing donuts!

Getting ready to depart Vallay (mansion house on the left) and back onto the beach / sea:



Once back on North Uist, turn right and head down the road. About a ½ mile along is a loch which you can drive into and wash the sea water off the underneath of your car with. There’s then a jet wash in Balivanich on the neighbouring island of Benbecula, to give your car a proper clean. Sea water and cars don’t mix well!

Hope you visit on a brighter day than we did...


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