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7 Unmissable Things To Do On Vatersay

7 Unmissable Things To Do On Vatersay


Vatersay is known for its stunning beaches of white sand that merge into clear and turquoise water, reminiscent of the Carribean. It’s easy to see why many consider the beaches on Vatersay some of the most beautiful in Europe, and its combination of breathtaking scenery and dramatic history makes Vatersay one of the most interesting islands in the Outer Hebrides to explore.

Vatersay is the most southern-inhabited island of the Outer Hebrides. Just 3.5 miles in area, it is accessed via a causeway from the Isle of Barra; a lifeline for the island after many residents emigrated elsewhere due to its remoteness.

Here are seven things to do on Vatersay you cannot miss!

Enjoying the views from Vatersay

Visiting Barra too?

If you’re visiting Vatersay, you’ll probably be exploring the Isle of Barra as well. Make sure you read my guide on the best things to do on Barra for inspiration!

7 Things to do on Vatersay

Catalina Memorial

Wreckage from the RAF Catalina flying boat

The Catalina Memorial is what is left of a World War II aircraft that tragically crashed into the hillside after getting lost in low cloud during a training exercise.

Islanders rushed to free the soldiers from the wreckage, but sadly three of the nine men died. A navigational error took them off course, and the aircraft got lost in low cloud. It then crashed into the side of a hill on Vatersay.

It’s a little astonishing that the wreckage sits here on the hillside after all this time, the wings clearly visible. The wreckage of the RAF Catalina flying boat was dragged further down the hill and placed on the lower slopes of Heishival Beg.

Hike the Vatersay circuit

The Vatersay circuit

One of the best things to do on Vatersay is to walk the Vatersay circuit– it encompasses many of the attractions in this article. I would rate it as a moderate walk; it has one steep 40-metre climb up a hill to a dun (Iron Age fort) but the rest of the walk is fairly flat.

It’s quite boggy in certain areas, so I recommend wearing proper hiking boots. It’s signposted for the majority of the walk, however, you will still need to know how to read a map as the path can be rough in sections. The map you need is OS Explorer 452.

On this walk, you will have fantastic views across to Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay. Look out (or listen out) for a variety of birdlife, including guillemots, puffins, razorbills, gannets and the elusive corncrake.

For more information about this hike, the Vatersay Beaches circuit guide on WalkHighlands is a good one to follow.

Traigh a Bhaigh and Traigh Shiar

the beach gate on vatersay
Traigh a Bhaigh

The two most famous beaches on Vatersay are just separated by machair, dunes and a road running through the middle of the island.

The east beach, Traigh a Bhaigh, is the better well-known of the two, and is where you can take a snap of the famous gate leading to the beach.

The west beach, Traigh Shiar, is equally as stunning, and you can climb the dun at the southern end of the beach for stunning views over the island.

You can also view the Annie Jane Memorial close to this beach, which is a monument that commemorates the 350 emigrant passengers that lost their lives when they were shipwrecked on the island.

Standing at the top of the dun

The Vatersay Raiders

Though raiding was commonplace at the time, the Vatersay Raiders made headlines during a time of political debate about land reforms.

The men, so

Piece of Cake Honesty Box

One of my highlights of visiting Vatersay is the bright pink honesty box located in the village, filled with delicious home-baked treats that have most certainly expanded the waistbands of many of the islanders. It’s called Piece of Cake, and it’s marked on Google maps.

The Piece of Cake Honesty Box

The Malteeser slice is hands-down the best I have ever tasted, and I often dream about this perfect sugary creation.

Make sure you take cash with you (there isn’t an option to pay by card). There is a plate with coins if you need change. You can check to see when the honesty box has been refilled on the Piece of Cake Instagram page.

Vatersay Community Hall

The Vatersay Community Hall has an excellent cafe that makes a brilliant ham and cheese toastie. They also have homemade soups, sandwiches, paninis, scones, cakes, tea, coffee and soft drinks.

The official starting point of the Hebridean Way is across the road from the hall.

Sunshine on Vatersay

When you visit, be sure to ask if The Vatersay Boys are playing on their home turf during your visit. Reigning from Vatersay and Barra, the five-piece band features a unique blend of accordions, pipes, whistles and guitar. They’ve performed at Barrowlands in Glasgow, the Belladrum Festival in Inverness, and the Loopallu Festival in Ullapool.

The Vatersay Community Hall is closed on Thursdays.

Bagh A’Deas beach

Cows resting on Bagh A’Deas beach

Lesser known than Traigh Shiar (West Beach) and Traigh a Bhaigh (East Beach), Bagh A’Deas is usually quieter than the two, and known for its four-legged visitors- cows!

If you’re lucky you’ll have the chance to see the herd of cows that roam freely across the island relaxing on this beach.

This beach can be reached by walking southeast from the village cemetery. When visiting this beach, I recommend walking further along the coast to the deserted village of Eorisdale (more information below).

The Deserted Village of Eorisdale

You can still see the ruins of the village today

To the south-east of Vatersay you will find the deserted village of Eorisdale (or Eòrasdail). It was abandoned in the 1970’s when new housing became available in Vatersay village.

You can still see the reminders of the village, including a circular pen that was probably used for agricultural reasons.

Are you planning a trip to Vatersay? Is this list missing any attractions on the island? Leave a comment for me below!

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