Vuia Mhòr

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Crofters taking fleeces off Vuia, c1990 (photographer unknown – perhaps Iain Macdonald?)

The island of Vuia Mhor lies between Uig and Great Bernera, east of Reef, and covers an area of 84 hectares. The highest point is Mullach na Beinne (67m) which falls away to the sea at Creag na h-Iolaire (Eagle Cliff). Much of the island is rough hilly ground but there is a slope suitable for cultivation on the south side (with lazybeds still evident), and houses were built at an isthmus between two beaches on the east side.

Rubha an h-Athadh, the point of the kiln, still bears the substantial remains of what is held locally to be a kelp kiln, as the occupants of the island would have been obliged by their landlord to gather and process kelp to pay their rents. (A mink was in residence in the kiln when some of us visited in 2006.) Otherwise there are only a few rough enclosures on other parts of the island.

Vuia was occupied during the first half of the 19th century; records give four families living there in 1807, those of Murdo Maclean, Neil Macleod (ex Mangersta), Norman Nicolson and Roderick Stewart, each paying a rent of £4.0.9d annually. By 1841 there were seven families and some 46 people living there, but it was cleared shortly afterwards and has not been occupied since then. Most of those who left the island can be traced – more of which later.

There are two wells, both still evident in 2006 and both very near the settlement. The island is part of Valtos grazings and used by local crofters for their sheep.