The Isle of Barra
Barra holds a special place in the hearts of many. Some celebrate a milestone birthday by doing the renowned Barra beach landing, while others come to trace their family heritage. I have no excuse other than to simply escape.
Sea spray danced above the waves, lifted and twirled by the power of the wind. I could taste the salt the air, and feel grains of sand landing on the surface of my waterproof jacket in tiny tapping movements.
We had just watched the famous flight touch down on nature’s very own runway at Barra Airport, before making a childlike dash down the dunes at Traigh Eais on the adjacent side of the Eoligarry peninsula. It was a wild afternoon, but every day is a beach day on the Outer Hebrides.
My friends and I often visit the islands in the shoulder months, so the force of the elements was no surprise. We roamed the beaches and the local pub (of course) with carefree curiosity.
Our unwavering love for Barra was forged from the moment we caught sight of the island from above, as we prepared to touch down on the sand on our first visit in 2015.
We’ve since been back, and I can confirm that this love affair is much more than just a holiday fling.
10 Things You Need To Know
About The Isle of Barra
1) Barra is the epitome of ‘good things come in small packages’
Us Scottish folk have a tendency to throw around the word ‘wee’, even in instances where something isn’t all that small. I can assure you however that Barra definitely falls into the ‘wee’ category.
At just 8 miles x 5 miles at the widest point, it’s certainly not one of Scotland’s larger islands, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in beauty and character.
Barra supplies infinite scenic stimulation, fantastic local produce, and an enviable and palpable sense of community, all rooted in a rich clan history.
Still not convinced? Read on.
2) You’ll fly into a very special airport…
Gliding down onto the shimmering sands of the beach at Barra Airport is not your everyday aviation experience – this is exactly why it should feature on everyone’s travel wish-list. It is the only commercial beach landing in the world and the flight times are, of course, dictated by the tides.
The flight itself is the stuff that scenic dreams are made off. Look down upon the wild beauty of the Highlands, the iconic colourful facades of Tobermory, and coastlines so beautiful they will pull on your tartan heart-strings.
The approach to Barra really would have you convinced it was somewhere far more exotic. Famous as it is, the flight is always met by a crowd of spectators eager to capture the pocket-sized plane on its decent.
Post-landing, I have never been so charmed by an airport in my life; witnessing such a unique, small-scale operation was a real novelty. I particularly enjoyed watching my baggage come off the flight at the same time as me, before being deposited in a bus shelter – sorry the ’Baggage Reclaim’ – outside the wee dinky building.
I would urge everyone and anyone to do this flight in their lifetime. My thoughts throughout the journey were variations of…
“Why the hell haven’t I done this before?!”
- You can fly directly from Glasgow to Barra with Loganair.
- For prices and to book visit the Loganair website
If you love the Scottish Islands as much as I do, check out my other blogs about islands in the Hebrides: Coll, Tiree, Islay, Jura, Gigha, Kerrera and The Slate Islands.
3) … or you’ll sail towards a castle in a beautiful bay
If low flying, miniature propellor planes are not your thing, you can instead enjoy a sea-based journey to Barra on the ferry from Oban.
When dry land comes into sight and you see an ancient castle rise from the surface of the water, and don’t worry, it’s not that you’ve just had too many ‘Malts of the Month’ on the CalMac ferry!
Kisimul Castle (pronounced Kish-imul) is an emblem of the island, and gives the main town of Castlebay its name; a reminder that us Scots were traditionally fond of a say-it-as-you-see-it naming approach.
You can visit the castle via a short boat transfer, or just enjoy it’s prominence on the liquid horizon from almost anywhere in Castlebay.
- The ferry from Oban to Barra takes four hours and fifty minutes
- Check out the timetables, prices, and how to book on the CalMac website
4) You will love the fish curry at Cafe Kisimul
Yup, you’ve guess it – this island eatery is also named after the aforementioned castle. AND, if you choose to eat alfresco you can gawk at said castle while you savour your seafood. Do expect some souvenir midge bites for the pleasure, however!
Cafe Kisimul is an island institution, and one which I had high expectations of based on some strong recommendations from fellow Scottish travel enthusiasts
Glancing over the Indian/Italian menu, a wave of indecisiveness washed over me as I struggled to commit to any of the seriously seductive seafood dishes; first world problems.
Less than an hour later, I congratulated myself on two outstanding choices – the scallop pakora, followed by a cod & monkfish, tuna based masala.
The meal was so good, we put down our cutlery and immediately rebooked for the following evening. We did exactly the same on our next trip too. Enough said.
- Opening hours are “Morning ’til late”
- Call the restaurant on 01871 810 645 / 01871 810 870
- Email [email protected]
- View the Sample Menu on the Cafe Kisimul website
Do you need some help planning your trip to Scotland? Check out my Scotland Itinerary Planning services!
5) The weather forecast is as accurate as Scotland’s myths and legends
I’ve experienced all weathers on Barra. The island seems to have its own microclimate, so the weather forecast can literally be thrown to the wind.
There were mornings when an alarm clock wasn’t necessary: the force of the rain against the window was like nature’s equivalent to a brass band. It wasn’t to last however…
Usually by the time we had washed our breakfast dishes in the hostel kitchen, lazer beams of sunlight had begun to burst through the sky over Castlebay, triumphantly defeating the cluster of rainclouds and clearing the way for a day of exploration.
A pattern emerged during the trip; intermittent downpours, wild gusts of wind, but overall dry conditions with ample sunshine and blue skies.
When the wind and rain decided to throw a wild party by night, this was the perfect excuse to stay indoors and get cosy.
The weather is a tease, and the forecast was as useful as a chocolate teapot.
6) The hilly cycle to Vatersay is SO worth it
Vatersay is an idyllic little isle – the most southernly in the Outer Hebrides – and is conveniently connected to Barra via a short causeway.
“The cycle there is easy”, they said. “It’s only a few miles”, they said.
Okay so it wasn’t a particularly long cycle, but it involved an unexpected series of rollercoaster inclines and dips – far more than my average level of fitness appreciated.
The dreamy coastline quickly quelled any temptation to moan, and distracted me to the point that I nearly fell off my bike.
The beaches are sublime and serene, the kind that provoke a “NO WAY! Is this really Scotland?” reaction.
Even the local cows couldn’t resist an afternoon at the seaside.
- Barra Bike Hire is based in Castlebay
- Prices start at £6 for up to 3 hours.
- For full details visit the website here
Where to Stay on the Isle of Barra
There are holiday rentals, Airbnbs and a couple of hotels on the Isle of Barra. Both times I’ve visited the island, I’ve stayed at Dunard Hostel in Castlebay: once in The Hostel building and once in The Lodge – which is attached through a corridor.
Both were great, however The Lodge section has private rooms with double or twin beds, and shared bathrooms. I thought the rooms were clean, cosy and comfy. You also have access to a lovely lounge and kitchen area which has everything you need to self-cater, and just relax. Oh, and did I mention the sea views?
- A twin or double room in The Lodge costs £50 per night
7) Honesty really is the best policy
Honesty jars and boxes; not something you’re ever likely to see in a city. It just wouldn’t work, would it?
On the Isle of Barra, the first honesty jar I saw was in the entrance to our hostel; accessed through a permanently unlocked door. Dunard Hostel promotes a come-and-go-as-you-please vibe, and you might not even encounter the hostel owners during your stay.
The solution? A blackboard with your name and room on it, a system requiring no room keys/cards, and an honesty jar to leave your outstanding balance. Talk about trusting!
There was even some mackerel in the hostel fridge, which local youngsters catch fresh from right outside. Your donations = well earned pocket money.
8) Castlebay Bar is good for your soul, and bad for your health!
You will inevitably end up in the legendary Castlebay Bar, whether you like it not. The simple task of walking in a straight line will become a challenge when you succumb to a night in this renowned establishment.
This ain’t no pretty pub, and chances are your pint will taste funky. What can be guaranteed however is a night of top banter, drunken shenanigans, and if you’re lucky, a performance from the notorious Vatersay Boys.
An authentic Barra experience relies upon a visit to this pub. It’s your duty.
9) The locals will welcome you with… an open door to their vehicle
Picture the scene, you walk into a local bar to be met with a wild-west style silence and unwelcome glares, tumbleweed cartwheeling across the ground you desperately want to swallow you up.
That is everything that Barra is NOT.
Cast aside any preconceived ideas of insular islanders when you visit this island, and expect curious glances, followed by new-found island friends.
When you’re out walking, be prepared for vehicles to slow down beside you, and offer you a lift to wherever they are going. You have no idea how grateful we were for this simple act of kindness during a sudden downpour.
The people really do make a place, and I’ve never experienced this more than on Barra.
10) There’s a reason it’s called Barra-dise and Barra-bados
Barra really is a wee slice of paradise. It often resembles a far-flung tropical land, and the island experience is guaranteed to detox your mind and feed your soul.
Whether you arrive by sea or air, explore by foot or bike, indulge in scenery, seafood or whisky (I’ll take all three please), this island will leave an irrevocable imprint on you.
It’s a simple kind of paradise, and it’s right here in bonnie Scotland. Slainte to that!
Top Tips for Visiting the Isle of Barra
- If you don’t want to drive, there is a local bus which operates from the airport and will transport you to Castlebay and to Airdmhor if you are travelling north through the Outer Hebrides or just over to Eriskay for the day. There is also a service from Castlebay to Vatersay, but this needs to be booked in advance. You can view the timetables here.
- You can book a car hire to pick up at the airport through Car Hire Hebrides. We chose to do this on our second visit and we were really happy with the car and the service.
- There is a well-stocked COOP supermarket in Castlebay if you need supplies to self-cater. Bùth Bharraigh is a brilliant community shop which sells food, gifts and crafts. There is also a wee grocery shop near Cafe Kisimul and the Post Office.
- Be sure to pop into the shop at Barratlantic to pick up some delicious fresh seafood to enjoy as a picnic or back at your accommodation.
- For a wee treat, go to Macroon’s Tearoom next to the Post Office in Castlebay for amazing scones or Hebridean Toffee for a bag of their super-sweet tablet.
Hi Kay, thanks for this.
You’re very welcome 🙂 Are you from Barra?
I really enjoyed your post on the isle of Barra. I was lucky enough to fly there a few years ago and I wasn’t disappointed. I had to smile when the co pilot opened the door and helped us out onto the sandy beach saying “watch you don’t slip on the seaweed”! Our bags were waiting for us in the car park!. The island is all you say it is plus a little bit of magic. The wild flowers, the wild life the beautiful beaches and amazing views no matter where you are on the island. I’m proud to say my dad is from Barra, and the Barra family are the kindest friendliest folk you’ll ever meet. Had an amazing holiday there, and quite an adventure.
Hi Pat! Thanks for reading 🙂 It’s definitely a very unique flight experience isn’t it? There’s so much to see on such a wee island! What a great place to have heritage from – and I agree, the people are lovely. I’m hoping to return before too long 😀
What’s the best time of year to visit these islands? Weather and insects?
You can never predict the weather in Scotland, especially on these wee islands. I would avoid the winter months if you don’t like the cold, and if you want to actually sit on one of the lovely beaches.
I always think Easter time is nice in Scotland – it’s not too busy and it’s usually sunny and fresh. Midges are out all summer, but the wind can keep them away depending on where you’re going! 😉
Late May and June are the best time to go. September is also quite a good time. Midges are not so prolific in the earlier months.
Thanks for your advice Marianne! I will definitely go back, and will consider going slightly more off-season 🙂
I have some friends who flew to Barra at the weekend and as I was looking at their fabulous photo’s which they post daily on fb, I came across your blog which I’ve really enjoyed reading. It looks amazing, now I feel that I really must go there one day. But when is the best time to go? Is there ever a month when it doesn’t rain much? Guess that’s a silly question! When were you there Kay? Thanks for reading. Christine
Hi Christine! I’m sure your friends will have loved the experience too. I was there from the 30th July for 4 nights and the weather was very mixed. It really is a mixed bag on the islands, and you can never predict the weather. I like travelling in Scotland around April, as I always remember it as being a sunny month.
I’ve just been on Mull, Iona and Staffa and the weather has been gorgeous! You’ve just got to take a chance and hope for the best 🙂
I come from the beautiful island although I have been away for 50 years. I was home “I still call it home” at Easter and the weather was beautiful. God’s little paradise. The best people in the world.
What a lovely place to call home (and you will always call it home!). It’s definitely a wee slice of paradise and the people were wonderful 🙂
My wife and I honeymooned on Barra last year….we’re Glasgow based.
Best decision ever.
You’ve done the island proper justice with your article!
Hi Gareth! What a brilliant choice for your honeymoon.
Thanks very much, I’m glad I managed to do it justice – it’s hard to describe how much I loved it. 🙂
What a lovely blog about beautiful Barra. I had a holiday there mid October and the weather was beautiful. The beaches are stunning and no midges! My father was from Barra and it’s a long time since I last visited. The flight was stunning due to the fab weather.
Thank you Patsy! How nice that you have family heritage from Barra.
Sounds like you had a lovely visit there in October. I’ll definitely be back – just got a few more islands I want to see first 😉
Reading your blog I wanted to get on a plane and be “home.” I discovered Barra by marrying a American MacNeil!
Barra may not be my address but my heart will always be home on Barra.
Thanks for the wonderful walk thru the island. It’s been 8 years since my last trip there but I plan on visiting ASAP with my new Scottish grandson.
Thanks so much Debbie! MacNeil is a great name to have, and now you have connections to this amazing wee island.
I’m returning to Barra in a few weeks and will be updating this post with my new findings and images. Can’t wait!
I hope you get back to Barra soon.
Hi Kay nice to see a blog about Barra. I live in Canada and have been to Barra 3 times with different members of my family each time. My mom was born there and we came together in 1971. Her first trip back since 1926 when she was just 5. I am hoping to make another trip soon but will probably be on my own this time so it was nice to hear how you managed without a vehicle and on your own. My cousin in Glasgow has yet to visit Barra and I think it is time he did 🙂
Hi Sandra! Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment 🙂
I’m glad you liked the blog. I absolutely loved Barra and can’t wait to go back. How nice that you have a family connection there. Did you Mum enjoy the trip?
I actually did the trip with 2 friends, and we had no trouble doing it without a car. We stayed in Castlebay and used the airport bus to get around. There’s also a bus to Vatersay, or you could give the cycling a go. I’ll warn you that it’s really hilly though. We also took a day trip to Eriskay, and just booked a taxi to the ferry port for that.
You definitely need to give your cousin a gentle nudge to visit with you 😉
Wow! Barra is on my ever-growing list of Scottish destinations to visit. I’ve heard great things about the Barra curries too.
Oh you must must must visit Barra! 😀 I love it so much. I really need to go back soon, but am currently working my way around some other islands which I haven’t visited before. Thinking about the Cafe Kisimul curry is making me hungry…
making a return trip to Barra after 50 plus years, I am. glad I read your Blog,looking forward,all the more to my trip good pointers and advice.
Hi Gerry! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the blog and found my tips useful 😀 That’s amazing you’re making a return visit after all these years. I’d love to hear how you get on!
I plan to go in June ,I will bring midge repelant as advised,.
I hope you didn’t experience too many of the horrid wee things!
Thanks for this Kay. Lots of useful info. We’re going at the end of June and after reading this I’m even more excited about my first trip to the Island to wild camp. I’m hoping the midges will be blown away by a light warm breeze ……..if not the local pub sounds like a great evenings entertainment to escape the little blighters!
Hi Jill! That’s great you found my blog useful in planning your trip. Apologies for my super-late reply! How did you get on? Where did you camp? I hope you managed to escape the midges, and had fun in the pub! 😀
Hi Kay, my wife has a yearning to visit Barra and I would like to take her there and looking at early August 2017. We are in our later years and she has difficulty walking and would prefer travelling by sea and take our car to the Isle to get around. From your piece on Barra travel by bus, cycling or walking seems to be what most fit and able-bodied visitors do. My question is, are there any drawbacks or local impediments to taking one own car onto the island?
Hi Gerry! Thanks for getting in touch. I love travelling by ferry, so I’m sure the journey by sea will be wonderful. The approach to Castlebay with Kisimul Castle rising from the water will be an experience too. I think having your car will be perfect for getting around and exploring, and I’m not aware of any hinderances in doing so. You’ll be able to visit Vatersay with ease, and do a sightseeing loop of the island. Let me know how you get on, and if you have any tips for me. My email address is [email protected]. Have a brilliant time 🙂
I am planning a trip to Ireland sometime in the next year and saw how close Barra is. My family ancestry points to Barra as the place where some descendants came from. I think this is a must-sidetrip! Other than the hostel other recommended accommodations? -Brian
Hi Brian. Thanks for your comment. Where is it that you’ll be travelling from? I agree that Barra is a must-sidetrip for you, particularly with your family connections. I’m not sure if you can fly direct from Iceland to Glasgow, but you can definitely fly direct to Edinburgh. You could spend some time in the city, then take the train to Glasgow where you can fly to Barra and do the famous beach landing. I’ve only stayed in the hostel so can’t personally recommend anywhere else. I would advise staying in – or close to – the main town of Castlebay. Hope that helps! Kay 🙂
Hello Kay. I too am Kay! I used to live on Barra many years ago in the white house beside the airport. My father was the manager of the Cockle Shell factory where they made harling for houses from the cockle shells on the beach. You did the island proud with your description and your enthusiasm will entice other people to go. I haven’t been back for over 40 years but still have very fond memories. It’s still on my bucket list though!!
Hello fellow Kay 🙂 It’s very rare that I come across another one, especially with the same spelling! That’s AMAZING. I will think of you next time I’m there, and I spot the wee white house. Where do you live now? You should definitely make a visit to Barra one of your new year’s resolutions 😉 I’m so glad you liked the blog. I’ve visited thirty Scottish Islands now, and Barra is still in my top three. I’m hoping to get back next year if I can. Thanks for getting in touch!
I enjoyed reading your blog. Barra is a very special place to me and my family. We first went there in 1976 when I had just done my O-levels. It was the summer of the heatwave. We travelled the long journey to Barra, arriving in Castlebay on the MV Iona after a fantastic sail, spending the time wildlife spotting. It was very mysterious looking as my dad drove to our caravan in Eoligarry. The sun had disappeared behind Heaval. I seem to remember it was misty and there were rabbits everywhere. The next morning was dry and sunny, we walked down the road, then we were presented with the most incredible view of the beach. I had never seen anything like that before, white sand and turquoise sea.
We didn’t go again until 2012 when my Dad organised a fortnights holiday for the family and my brother even came over from Canada with his family. My husband and I have been every year since then. It’s very addictive. Beautiful island and beautiful people
Thanks for your lovely comment Veronica!
Sounds like you have such wonderful memories of Barra. That’s amazing you’ve returned time and time again. For being a relatively small island, there’s just so much to it. I’m hoping to get back there this year, but as always I have a travel-wish list the length of my arm! I’ll be sure to write another blog about it when I do
Hi Kay, I was looking for information on Barra and came across your blog, lots of fabulous info. I am going there in August. My grandfather was born there, he was a merchant seaman and jumped ship in Sydney, Australia, in the 1920s and stayed here. I am so looking forward to the whole experience, by the way we, my son and myself are flying in. I will write again after our trip. Regards Wendy
Hi Wendy! Thanks for your comment ☺️
Glad you liked the information in my blog.
I absolutely LOVE Barra. I’m thinking of going back later in the year!
That’s so amazing your grandfather was born on Barra there. The trip will be even more special for you.
The beach landing is one of the best experiences ever.
Definitely let me know how you get on.
Take care, Kay.
I loved reading all your information and experience of Barra. It has always been on my travel list and in a weeks time, my husband and I will finally visit this beautiful wee island – one whole week in stunning Barra – can’t wait. We are staying in a wee cottage in Earisy – any extra tips would be much appreciated
Thanks for your comment Mary. I’m chuffed you enjoyed the blog.
I’m also SO jealous that you’re visiting Barra this week. Spending a whole week there will be lovely!
My top tips are to pre-book Cafe Kisimul for an evening meal, and to visit the beaches on Vatersay.
You could also nip over to Eriskay for the afternoon and have lunch at the AM Politician (if it’s open at this time of year).
Have a wonderful trip 🙂
My boyfriend and I were planning a road trip leaving Edinburgh and heading towards Skye, however, due the ridiculous young person car hire fee, we have decided to wait for that trip. I came across your page when researching for an alternative. Barra looks amazing and loved your tips on your blog. I wondered if you could answer a few more questions from your experience?
How long would you recommend? We are thinking of heading over the first week of May (bank holiday week), perhaps Saturday – Tuesday (maybe doing Glasgow for a night then fly over).
Are there any other places you would recommend on route back?
What’s the pricing like? My boyfriend is studying so we would like to keep the trip at a relatively low cost, would Barra suit us for that?
Any tips would help 🙂
Hi Liana, thanks for your comment!
Barra is a BRILLIANT idea and you definitely don’t need a car. We were there for five days, but we spent one of those days on Eriskay, so Saturday – Tuesday would be a good amount of time. It’s not a big island, so you can easily get round it in a few days. A day cycling to (or getting the bus to) Vatersay is also a must.
When you say ‘on the route back’, are you getting the ferry to Barra or are you flying?
In terms of prices, none of the islands are particularly ‘cheap’ to eat out as you’ll usually find really good quality local produce, and ingredients they’ve had to import from elsewhere. I would budget £15 – £20pp for an evening meal. Cafe Kisimul is wonderful, so you must go there. You could self cater for breakfast and lunches though to save money, and there’s a decent supermarket in town for supplies. The only thing you can really spend your money on on the islands is food & drink, so it just depends how indulgent you are really – ha ha! I usually buy a wee handmade souvenir when I’m away, but other than that you don’t have to budget for much else.
If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me an email at [email protected].
Hi Kay! Enjoyed reading your blog on Barra. I too am a nut for islands. I am thinking about a trip to Barra after I leave Tory Island in Co Donegal, Ireland. This will be my first trip to Scotland. Do you think I’ll have any trouble finding accommodations around the first part of Sept? The little hostel you wrote of looks charming. How much for the private cabin? Can you tell me the approx cost for a return flight from Glasgow? Have you been to any of the Irish Isles? My two favorite are Tory, & Inish Boffin in Co Galway. I’m from Kentucky. Look forward to receiving your news letter & reading more of your blogs. Thanks!
Hi Daniel! Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
You should definitely visit Barra to mark your first trip to Scotland ☺️
I think you’ll be fine for accommodation in September, although I wouldn’t leave it too long to book.
It says on the Dunard Hostel website that the current price for the cabin is £42 per night.
I can’t remember exactly how much we paid for our flights, maybe £120 return.
Do a search on http://www.loganair.co.uk to get to get the exact prices.
I’ve been to Inis Mor in Ireland, and would like to see more.
Happy travelling! Kay
Hi. My husband and I (no, we’re not royalty), stayed in the hostel a few years ago, around 2010. it’s great. So friendly and relaxed. We met a team of younger boys staying there too.(probably 30ish) cycling to Lewis.great patter and wonderful company. We also cycled to Lewis, and are heading back next week to celebrate my husbands 70th. Barra and the people there are so welcoming. So much so my brother and his wife moved there a few years ago.
Hi Tricia! Sounds like you had such a nice experience on Barra. I love meeting new people in hostels and pubs etc. when I’m travelling. I hope you have a brilliant time for your husband’s 70th – Happy Birthday to him! Kay
Thank you for that stimulating post. I will travel to Barra next week – my first trip to Scotland ever… – and it made me even more keen on going there.
I really enjoyed the way you write about it!
Best regards, Evelyn
Hi Evelyn! How was your trip? I hope you had the best time. Thanks so much – I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I LOVE Barra, so it was a pleasure writing about it. Kay
I worked there for about a year in the early 70’s constructing the Castlebay Ferry Pier. Very fond memories, charming people, beautiful place, the ferry, the “airport”, lack of cars and lovely hotel all added up to a time and place to remember.
Would love to go back sometime.
Thanks for your comment Ken! I bet it won’t have changed much. That’s what I love about the islands – it’s like a wee escape from the modern world. I plan to go back to Barra next year.
Hi there. Love this description of Barra. It’s a dream of mine to visit only because my name is Barra!! It looks like great fun. Usually my friends and I choose a location for a holiday and although it’s not my turn until 2020, I’ll be putting Barra forward as a live option! Are there many hostels on the island? I’ll be going from Dublin via Glasgow so there’ll be a few legs to our journey. Is there much craic in the bars over the weekend, too?
Thanks again for this amazing blog on Barra.
Hello Barra! What a cool name, and a perfect excuse to visit the island 🙂 The only hostel I’m aware of is the one that I stayed in which is in the main town of Castlebay – it’s called Dunard Hostel. The Castlebay Bar does get pretty lively, and you might be lucky enough to catch the local Vatersay Boys playing some tunes. It’s an amazing island and I’m sure you’ll love it. Thanks, Kay.
I have Barra on my list of places to visit before…. I would love to know what clan my family would have been in the 17 hundreds. I don’t know how to learn this, as this is the time my grandfather came to the US. My sister thought the Armstrong, but. As she is gone, I can’t ask why.
Susan MacNeal Maxfield
That’s great Barra is on your list of places to visit. I hope you manage to make this a reality soon 🙂
To trace your family history, I would recommend contacting Bill Lawson from the Seallam! Centre on the Isle of Harris. He specialises in the genealogy of people from the Hebrides. He gave my best friend some brilliant information about her grandfather from Harris, and he can trace your ancestry for you (subject to a fee, of course). Here is a link to the website https://www.hebridespeople.com/visitor-centre/.
Good luck! Kay.
Hi! Just booked a week in Barra for our summer holiday next July and then found your blog. Even more excited to visit now after reading it! Managing two new islands next year, Claggan Island off County Mayo where my grandfather was from and Barra. Tbh we’re avoiding our usual foreign holiday to either France or Italy because of Brexit mess and I’m also waiting for my Irish passport to be delivered! Happy days! Hopefully soon it’ll be a Scottish passport too! Thanks again for all the info…
Hi Denise! That’s exciting you have a couple of island trips planned for next year. I’ve been to the Aran Islands in Ireland, but would love to see more. I’m sure you will love Barra! I do far more trips in Scotland now than I do overseas, and I’m loving it. Hope your passport has arrived. You’re very welcome. Happy travels!
Hi all I have to ask about the Glasgow boy that tell that remember his previous life in the Barra Isle… somebody know something? thank you.
Hi Federico! Sorry, what is it you’re trying to find out? 🙂
Hi there, like your blogs ….planning to go to Barra and Vatersay this springtime and was wondering if you have heard about any issues on campervans / motorhomes etc. Was originally going to Islay , Jura and Colonsay but after reading a few of the forums concerning wild camping etc I got kinda put off. I was wondering if you or any of your followers have came across any issues on this subject.
Glad you’re enjoying my blogs!
There’s no issues that I’m aware of. I don’t drive though, so have never looked into it.
I would suggest post a query in one of the Barra Facebook groups. The locals on there are usually pretty responsive and should be able to help you out.
My best friend, Sharon, & I are visiting Barra, S Uist, N Uist, Harris & Lewis this summer. We spent the whole summer in Scotland 3 years ago & have returned every year since. Thanks so much for your blog & enthusiasm! We feel that Scotland is our true home & love the people, beauty, & country infinitely! Looking forward to being home in late May.
Thank sounds like an amazing trip!
I’m going back to Barra in October, as well as Uist – can’t wait.
Thanks so much for your kind words 🙂
I’m glad you’ve fallen for Scotland the way you have!
Enjoy your trip,
My grandmother Mary MacNeil was born on Barra and I’ve visited with her many times as a child. To ardveenish and bogach Still have family there. Going to visit soon. It’s nice to see that it is appreciated by others as the most beautiful place on earth and in my heart.
Hi Helen! That’s lovely you have family connections to Barra 🙂 It’s a special island.
I’m going back in October. Can’t wait!
Have dreamt for a long time of getting to Barra from way down here in New Zealand as my ancestors were McNeils hence this strong feeling and reading all the snippets of how beautiful the Island is and the people likewise makes me even more determined to visit. Not so young now so am glad one can see lots by bus but love walking!! Have loved our 2 previous trips around most of Scotland but time just didnt allow us to get to Barra…delighted to come across your wonderful and helpful blog though..many thanks!
I hope you get to visit Barra someday. It’s such a wonderful wee island, and the flight is an experience!
I’m going back in a few weeks, and I can’t wait – as it’s been a few years since my last visit.
Hopefully I can give you some ideas for your next trip to Scotland.
Hello Kay. Thank you SO SO much for this blog, food for the soul!! I have just booked my very first holiday to Barra and am already obsessed fitting many new life enhancing experiences into the visit – cannot wait. Your passion and laughter come bursting out! We all yearn for that sense of home, community spirit, the way of life, the beauty, and the wonderful people (and also the wildlife!) you meet on small Scottish islands. Keep up your writing, you are inspiring others to follow in your footsteps, which is no mean feat in this fast paced world we occupy! Look forward to reading about your future adventures, just don’t leave it till you are 93 to visit the 93rd inhabited Scottish island Tapadh leat again (thank you in gaelic)
Thanks so much for your lovely comment Jackie! When are you visiting Barra? I was back again in October and just love it even more. I’ll have visited 60 Scottish Islands by May this year, so I think I’m on track to hit 100 before I’m 100 🙂
I enjoyed reading all about your visit to Barra….it sounds amazing. We are flying over at Easter this year for 6 days and are super excited. I have 2 sons age 10 and 14 – is there anything you can recommend in particular that they would enjoy. I also wanted to ask you if children can go into the bars at night time as we would love to experience the music etc.