Thursday, December 13, 2018

Isles to Be - Bearasaigh

Another Isle to Be is The Pirate's Isle. How's that for an enticing name. Was it once the base of Blue Beard, or maybe Jean Laffite? No. Or how about Captain Hook?  No; although Hook's creator spent time writing in a spot 20 miles from the island.

The island's other name is Bearasaigh, and it lies off the mouth of Loch Rog (Lewis). Between 1610 and 1613 Neil MacLeod and forty of his followers had a stronghold on the island, from where they launched raids against the “Gentlemen Adventurers” sent to Lewis by James VI.

Bearasaigh (middle distance) seen from the Bostadh Roundhouse
Bearasaigh was a good choice for a stronghold. It is cliff-girt, with just one, easily defended, sloping rock slab that allows access to the top of the island. They eventually caught Neil by stranding family members in a boat tied to a tidal rock near the island. Neil and his band surrendered in order to save them. Neil managed to escape after that, but was recaptured and ended up swinging from an Edinburgh scaffold in 1613. In chapter 16 of his book Behold the Hebrides, Alasdair Alpin Macgregor recounts the story of Neil Macleod (which you can read at this link).

I've always wanted to get ashore on Bearasaigh to see the remains of Neil's encampment on the island (see this link). But to do so would require an expensive day-charter of a RIB on a calm day, and so I've put it off for many years. I have, however, managed to come within 10 feet of the island on a day-cruise around Loch Rog. On the south side of the island we took a close look at the rock slab that gives access to Bearasaigh. It was a miserable, cold and wet day, as you can tell from the rain-smears on the photo of the landing spot. A scramble to the top of the island on those rocks would be exciting - something I hope to do someday.


  1. Hi Marc, I've really enjoyed your blog over the past year. I hope you and Shawna have a very happy Christmas and look forward to joining you on the guided cruise in 2019 ! Best wishes, Nigel

  2. Hi Nigel,

    Happy New Year to you and Clare. I am also looking forward to July. See you then.