The Shiant Isles

The Bewitched Isles

Na h-Eileanan Shianta – Shiant Isles – The Bewitched Islands – so-called as they continually change shape according to the weather and visibility. Geologically they belong to Skye, and historically to Lewis, though Lord Leverhulme, when he owned both islands, transferred them officially to Harris!

Compared to the ancient Gneiss rocks of Harris, na h-Eileanan Shianta are very young, belonging to the same volcanic complex as the Quirang area of Trotternish area of Skye. There are three main islands in the group: Eilean Garbh (rough island);  Eilean an Taighe (house island);  and Eilean Mhuire (Mary’s island) with a chain of weirdly shaped rocks – na Galtaichean – running west from the west point of Eilean Garbh, which is joined to Eilean an Taighe by a shingle beach. At one time, the house on Eilean an Taighe was occupied by shepherds, but the last of them left in 1901, and there have been no permanent residents since them.

The most impressive feature of the na h-Eileanan Shianta is the great columnar cliffs of the north coast, rising to some 100m sheer from the water, with their cliff ledges occupied in the breeding season by myriads of seafowl.
Eilean an Taighe is fairly easy to explore, but the climb up the face of Eilean Garbh is strenuous, and dangerous in places. Please be aware there is no pier at the Shiant Isles and you go ashore to a rocky beach. Please ensure you have suitable footwear for this landing.

Sheer columnar cliffs
House on Eilean Taigh

The Shiant Isles Tour Schedule

Monday morning trip to Shiant Isles. This tour will depart from the Marina in East Loch Tarbert at 9.30 am and if the sea conditions are favourable passengers can go ashore for two hours on the island returning to Tarbert at 2.30pm.
Return – The return journey can take the form of a straight run to the East of the island of Scalpaigh (Scalpay), once a farm where Bonnie Prince Charlie was sheltered after Culloden. The east end of Scalpaigh – Ceann a Muigh (Out-end) – leads to Eilean Ghlas Lighthouse, built in 1789, and redesigned by Robert Stevenson in the 1820s. The light is now automatic, though the former light keepers’ cottages are still at the base of the tower.
Tour Duration – 3-5 hours
Cost – £110 adults – Children 14 and under £70
What’s included:Tea, coffee, soft drinks and home baking on return.

See the full schedule

Wildlife to look out for:

In the Sea

  • Minke Whales
  • Dolphins
  • Porpoise
  • Seals

In the Air

  • Kittiwakes
  • Guillemots
  • Razorbills
  • Golden Eagles
  • Sea Eagles

On the Shore

  • Puffins
  • Seals