The Monach Islands (Na h-Eileanan Siar)
The Monach Islands The Monach Isles – or Heisker – are five tiny islands (and some rocks) five miles west of North Uist. A National Nature Reserve, permission is required from Scottish Natural Heritage to land. Fulmars, which usually prefer cliff sites, nest here in sand dunes. They are joined by many grey seals and a profusion of flowers – over 200 different flowering plants and grasses. There are no trees but herons nest in some of the abandoned buildings. The islands also support one of the largest black guillemot (tystie) populations in the UK.
The isle of Shillay (Siolaigh) is home to a small, unmanned light, built to replace the lighthouse which was abandoned in 1943.
The Monachs are one of my favourite of all Scottish islands – low lying (only 19 metres above sea level at their highest) with absolutely beautiful white sandy beaches. Unlike St Kilda you are unlikely to meet anyone else in this very remote location. The islands have been uninhabited since 1948 but, once, up to 100 people lived here. They frequently visited by us on our Kilda and Outer Isles cruises.
DID YOU KNOW?
Atlantic puffins have penguin-like colouring but they sport a colourful beak that has led some to dub them the "sea parrot". The beak fades to a drab grey during the winter and blooms with colour again in the spring.