Barra, and its associated island Vatersay (they are connected by a causeway), are situated to the West of the Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides Islands, off the West Coast of Scotland. It is both the most Southerly and the most Westerly inhabited island of Scotland.
Barra is a small island at only around 23 square miles, and is framed by a perimeter of white, sandy beaches interspersed with rocky outcrops. The name Barra comes from ‘St Barr’s island’, after St Barr, a 6th century Irish bishop who became a missionary in Scotland.
Barra’s island position and great natural beauty make it a fantastic location from which to escape from the world - even if just for a short while.
Barra’s main village is Castlebay, situated to the South of the island, and nearby to Kisimul Castle, maintained by Historic Scotland. At Tangasdale, the other main village, you will find another castle, museum and a ruined church at Cille Bharra.
A white marble statue of “Our Lady of the Sea”, dating from 1954, gives clues that Barra is a mainly Roman Catholic island, but this doesn’t stop the island’s promotion of all things Gaelic in a yearly festival called Fèis Bharraigh. One of Barra’s other main cultural events is called Barrafest. It is a July festival of music held on a grassy plain in Tangasdale. Barra also hosts a half marathon called the Barrathon, an annual games and the Heaval Race. For golfers, Barra can offer a 9-hole golf club set within stunning scenery. And film buffs might like to know that the 1949 film Whisky Galore was filmed in the shores and villages of the island.
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to occupy them as they trek on the Eriskay ponies, go fishing and take a kayak into the sea – loch fishing, surfing, sailing and walking are all popular activities here. And after all that excitement, take yourself off to one of the cafes or hotels on the island for refreshments.
The most usual way to get to Barra would be via a ferry from Oban – a five hour journey from the mainland. Ferries also allow the more adventurous traveller the opportunity of taking in sea views while island-hopping throughout many of the Western Isles. Barra does have a small airport but this can only be used at low tide as the landing strip for planes is on the beach. Services are regularly scheduled from Glasgow.
Barra’s position at the tip of the Hebrides makes it a wonderful location for a tour of the Western Isles, or as part of a longer stay in the area. We can offer accommodation on many of the Scottish islands, so why not take a look below for inspiration…