Following his defeat at Culloden on the 16th April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his companions headed north, attempting to cross from Skye to Eriskay at the southern tip of South Uist.  His boat was blown off course, landing at Eilean Glas on Scalpay on 30th April where he stayed for four days at the farmhouse of tacksman, Donald Campbell.

Campbell’s farmhouse was demolished in the 1870s and a larger dwelling built on the foundations. The house was at one time a shop, later a manse, and is now home to the Two Harbours guest house, our lodgings for two nights in April. This is the view that the Bonnie Prince would have seen from the farmhouse bedroom window; I suspect not much changed since 1746 – if I were him, I would have stayed longer:

The view from Two Harbours

The day after we arrived we did the Prince’s walk in reverse, taking the Out End road to Kennavay and then the rough track across open moorland to Eilean Glas. In doing so, we were also following in the tracks of Norman MacCaig – these lines from his poem Return to Scalpay:

… We walk the Out End road (no need to invoke
That troublemaker, Memory, she’s everywhere)
To Laggandoan, greeted all the way –
My city eyeballs prickle; it’s hard to bear
With such affection and such gaiety.

Scalpay revisited? – more than Scalpay. I
Have no defence,
For half my thought and half my blood is Scalpay …

His mother, Joan née MacLeod (1879–1959), was born on Scalpay.

This is a wild and glorious landscape and I will publish it’s more attractive side later but Eilean Glas is a sad place – abandoned and forlorn, only the lighthouse tower is pristine, in stark contrast to the surrounding structures.  There is evidence of various failed endeavours, whilst a sign on one window declares, optimistically, the buildings are in the process of renovation:

Abandoned luncheonette... The games room ... Supply valve... The tanks at ...Ancient monument ...To the lighthouse ...

I have been off WordPress for some time so apologies for the many posts I have missed.


  1. Pit · April 25, 2016

    Those decaying objects are a sad sight, one the one hand, but on the other hand, in your pictures they have their own charm.
    That view is fantastic. Makes you really want to stay there for a long time. Thanks for showing. 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · April 25, 2016

      Hi Pit, good to hear from you. You are right about that view and the guest house was exceptional – we need to go back and stay much longer. Scalpay and Harris were definitely our favourite islands.

  2. easyweimaraner · April 25, 2016

    I still would love to live there… best in this fabulous lighthouse (if it has an elevator) :o)

    • northumbrianlight · April 25, 2016

      It could be very exciting in the lighthouse in a storm – I would want an elevator as well + a weekly delivery from Marks and Spencers 😉

  3. Cate Franklyn · April 25, 2016

    What a gorgeous view but, you know I find beauty in the abandoned and the forlorn too.

    • northumbrianlight · April 25, 2016

      Hi Cate – I like abandoned places too, the remains and the evidence of their histories intrigue. I guess I was being a bit defensive, concerned about the complaint that Scalpay is such a beautiful island, why show this. Anyway, the pretty ones will come later. All the best, R

  4. sustainabilitea · April 25, 2016

    Your beautiful post immediately brought to mind “The Skye Boat Song” (here’s a version: that I used to play on the piano and sing with our girls when they were little. It’s beautiful. (An aside: when typing “Skye”, I accidentally typed “Skype.” Wonder what that means?)


    • northumbrianlight · April 25, 2016

      Many thanks Janet, I know it well. The Bonnie Prince might have found over the sea with Skype quite useful – even the first lighthouse wasn’t built until 40+ years after he landed at Eilean Glas – born too soon 😦

  5. LaVagabonde · April 26, 2016

    That Troublemaker, Memory…you’ve stumbled upon lots of her evidence in that lonely place. I bet it’s not often that the sun illuminates those shades of blue.

  6. Pingback: The lonely sea and the sky … | northumbrian : light

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