Lazy beds at Losgaintir

Lazy beds or feannagan in Gaelic are an ancient method of cultivation. Similar to ridge and furrow except lazy beds were dug by hand usually on the steepest slopes. The peat sods were cut into blocks and piled up in ridges inter-layered with seaweed fertiliser. Potatoes were the staple crop until the potato blight of the mid 19th century after which lazy beds fell out of fashion. These beds are looking over Caolas Tharasaigh or the Sound of Taransay on Harris.

NG0799 map


Fantastic rock strata on an un-named beach on the north coast of Berneray. Gneiss I understand, a metamorphic rock 542 to 4000 million years old. I thought geologists could be more precise than that.

Berneray, Gaelic Bheàrnaraigh, is said to come from the Norse bjarnar and ey meaning island of the bear. Whether bears survived here is hard to believe, it’s largely machair with no workable peat beds so blocks of peat for fuel had to be brought in by boat from Votersay and Stroma. Berneray no longer feels like an island due to its connection by a causeway to North Uist. In the 18th century, the 700 strong population was principally involved in the kelp trade, used to produce chemicals for the soap and glass industries. But following the Napoleonic wars the bottom dropped out the market, then poor harvests following by the potato famine caused families to abandoned the island. Many chose emigrated particularly to Nova Scotia. Its current population is around 120.

In the distance is Pabbay, or Pabaigh, which means the Priest’s Isle.

NF9383 map