South Uist in the Outer Hebrides
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Camping on the Uists

Title: Camping on the Uists
Posted by: Kathy Stevenson on 08-05-2009

Discussion: We are very much looking forward to our holiday this summer on the outer Hebrides and are hoping to camp on either North/south Uist or Benbecula. There are just the 4 of us with a tent & a car - hoping to toughen the kids up with a few days 'wild camping'!
I would very much appreciate any local tips on a good place to choose where we would not be in anyones way. We are experienced, responsible campers fully aware of the respect due to this most beautiful part of the world & the people lucky enough to call it their home.

Replies to this post

Posted by: Catriona Walker on 21-07-2010

Where is the word REMOVED? it say's discussion closed. And what difference does it make if you dont know who come's in campervans.

Posted by: Catriona Walker on 19-07-2010

Maybe the discussion should now be closed, it's getting a bit boring.

Posted by: denis archibald steel on 12-07-2010

camping I come from the Isle of wight and we welcome campers with open arms we have a most beautiful Island and we have found all our tourists which we need badly treat our Island with respect I have a campervan and my wife and I with two grandchildren were going to visit Southuist in august to see the place where all my ancestors come from malcolm steele hanna Macdonald Alexander steele jane Mcauley Allan steele mary Maceachen and my grandad donald john steele bessie hughes a straight bloodline for 7 generations BUT after reading your posts about camping I am not sure please say somthing nice about campers sincerly den steel

Posted by: admin on 17-06-2010

I have contacted Moorcroft holiday / campsite directly and will be posting details of the new campsite on North Uist which has full facilities. I will repost once this is done and should be done shortly. This should help everyone.

There are two distinct campsites now on the Islands, both Benbecula and North Uist.

Watch this space.

Posted by: Alison Ross on 06-06-2010


Posted by: Tom Robertson on 17-01-2010

I assume Dan's response was directed at me! My post was in response to comments made by Cathie Ann Croft. I fail to see how they or I can be described as arrogant, I was merely stating facts. The incident I mentioned was the only poor experience we encountered on the islands and it displayed a very poor customer service in that a staff member would vent such spleen against potential customers in front of said and other customers.
Yes there is a camping facility on Benbecula but as I said it requires upgrading and repair and we did stay on it. However so did a group of approximately 20 youths in tents and another 5-10 caravans/motorhomes which really stretched the toilet facilities especially since some of them were out of order and seemed to have been for some time. The nights we did not camp at the site were spent on a relative's croft and on the beach at the airport on Barra.
We did not and would not camp on the Machair, we are aware of fragility and only took our (small) campervan on to it using existing tracks to allow us access to the beaches and machair itself.
If random/wild camping is not to be allowed then adequate facilities must be made available. This is quite easy and cheaply done as motorhomes only need fresh water supplies and somewhere to dispose of chemical and grey waste - see my comment re 5 van site schemes. There are also various places in the highlands where areas are made available by the common grazing committees for the use of campers for a small fee.
The fact is that if the islands want tourists then they have to provide facilities for ALL tourists, not just the ones who choose/are able to stay in the hotels or guesthouses.
I would also like to point out that my wife's mother is a native of the islands and she still has relations living there so as I wrote earlier we are aware of the fragil environment. We have holidayed in the islands many times in the past and this was our first visit for many years and our first in the campervan.
To conclude, I am sorry you would not like to meet me as I am really quite a nice chap!

Posted by: Dan Morrison on 24-12-2009

It may well be that the island needs more camping facilities but there is also potentially a reason why there is so few. There is likely not the demand for more campgrounds as a market would predict or the islanders should ban random camping on the island. That being said, there is a camp facility on Benbecula and please use it, if it is full, there are several bed and breakfasts on the island that can be booked.

Because one person felt wronged by a bad experience at a shop does not mean the experience will be poor for you, I have been to every shop in Benbecula and had nothing but warming hospitality and excellent service. Perhaps your poor experience was the result of your obvious arrogance and you obviously seem hard to please.

The locals are requesting you stay off of the machair, not that you are unable to enjoy it, do not ruin it. It is a fairly simple request that is easily granted. If the island was full of campers throughout the machair, it would not be as beautiful. The isalnd is a hotbed of fragile ecosystems in a very small package. The machair is extremely fragile and random camping should NOT be allowed. If you had such a bad experience, please just do not return as I surely would not like to meet you on my next visit as you would be the topic of my disgruntled post.

Posted by: Steven Rodger on 12-12-2009

As a newbe to this site just wondered if the holiday went ahead as planed or is going to.

Posted by: Kathy Stevenson on 13-08-2009

My apologies that my well meaning enquiry has sparked an argument - that was not my intention. I was hoping that by posing such questions we could ensure that our visit caused the least impact to the area - I have to say I now feel quite daunted.
We will endevour to stay at the campsite as Cathie Ann suggests (although I can confirm there is only one with only 25 places) and ensure that our impact is as small as possible. However feel I must point out that I object to being classed as someone who aims to wildcamp because I'm too tight to pay the camp fee or that I am so ignorant of the needs of wild life that I will be driving through the Machair in a 4x4 throwing plastic bags & lighted cigarettes out of the windows.
Having spent a childhood in Mid Wales & adulthood in North Yorkshire may I point out that there are other areas of the British Isles full of beauty & natural treasures. There are & always have been clashes between the needs of the local human & other populations and others wishing to visit and enjoy - but as ever in life the best way forward is one of balance & compromise.
Ms Croft can perhaps be comforted that if opinions like hers are to prevail then the 'future generations of visitors' will dwindle to nothing, I suspect this will place in severe danger the local economy and eventually the islands will be left, at last, to the wildlife.

Posted by: Tom Robertson on 31-07-2009

I just have to respond to Cathy Ann Croft's e-mail above. Especially the statement "And in return, what exactly is given to the local economy? Oh yeah, nothing." What is her evidence to support this sweeping statement? If this is true then perhaps she can explain what happened to the hundreds of pounds that vanished from my wallet and bank account during my 8 day stay in the Uists this month - not to mention the ferry fares which help subsidise her travel to the mainland? If all this money did not go to the local economy then where precisely did it go?
I heard the same thing while in the shop of a South Uist Museum/cafe/shop halfway down the island... Having just visited the excellent museum and had lunch in the excellent cafe my wife and I visited the shop. While we were in there the (incomer) "lady" behind the counter was expressing the same opinion as Ms Croft - same person perhaps? I admit to being so angry that a shop person could vent such spleen in front of potential customers I asked my wife to leave the shop and we would spend out money elswhere. This "lady" also complained she had sold nothing since she opened that day - I am not surprised.
Ms Croft also mentions in an other post the camping facilities on the Uists - what facilities? There is only one campsite on Benbecula and none in the Uists. Shell Bay can at best be described as "adequate" and there are limits to the number of tents, caravans and motorhomes they can accommodate - especially with only 1 toilet block with 1 working shower in both the ladies and gents sections. Competition is badly needed. If you don't want us to camp on the Machair then educate, provide sites for visitors with basic services - have a look at the Caravan Club and Camping and Caravanning Club CL and CS 5 van site schemes - all you need to provide is water and waste disposal, not rocket science is it? Income for hard up crofters.
Congratulations however have to be paid to the local authority for providing water, waste disposal points and showers throughout the islands.

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