For a change, some pictures from me. These are of Pabbay, an island off the northwest coast of Berneray. We visited it on September 15th 2005, as part of my plan to spend every birthday on a different Hebridean island or beach.
We sailed out in Donald's boat. Him, me, SWMBO, and Ursina the potter. Getting ashore involved Donald paddling madly in a dinghy while SWMBO kept a lookout.
Pabbay is quite a spectacular island. It's roughly oval, and has one hill that is an almost perfect cone, rising near the middle of the island. There are no permanent residents, though the owners and their friends and family come over and stay in one of the two restored/new buildings.
The only thing you'll usually notice moving are the deer. There's a large group of them on the island, which provide hunting/sustenance for the owners. They'll spend more time watching you than you spend watching them:
There are many ruined buildings on Pabbay. The island was populated up to 1846, when (as legend goes) it was cleared under the excuse of illegal alcohol distillation being discovered. Some of the people who were cleared moved to Berneray, North Uist, Harris and to Australia; many moved to Cape Breton in Canada. Residents of that area who have ancestors with the surnames MacKinnon, MacLeod, Morrison, MacAskill, or MacKay may have a Pabbay connection.
The remnants of many houses scatter the sides of the hill:
Quite incredibly, at the time of the 1841 census, there were 65 households on the island, with a total resident population of 323. The island and it's inhabitants had close connections with Berneray, using the church on that island - one door was used by Berneray residents, the other by Pabbay residents.
The view from the top is excellent, whatever the weather. You can see all round the island, and so can follow the progress of the deer. To the west you can see Shillay, a smaller island where seals come to bask:
There are several streams and springs on Pabbay, which flow past some of the ruined buildings. Other sustenance for residents would have come from sheep and fishing, and trading with residents and relatives on other nearby islands. Martin Martin (yes, that's a real name), one of the earliest travel writers to wander these islands, wrote:
"...the soil is sandy and fruitful in corn and grass, and the natives have lately discovered here a white marle. The west end of this island which looks to St. Kilda is called the wooden harbour, because the sands at low water discover several trees that have formerly grown here."
It certainly wasn't an easy life, with weather periodically damaging even the sturdy stone houses. The storm of 1697 is particularly remembered for destroying most of the houses, as well as burying a village under sand on Berneray.
All the pictures by me; there's more on the Flickr photoset.