(The Gaelic name meaning… Grey Island Lighthouse)
Taigh-solais an Eilein Ghlais
A translation of Eilean Glas tells you that you are visiting ‘Grey Island’ but don’t let the drab name put you off - Scalpay is a stunning place to visit. It’s about a 20-minute walk out to the iconic red and white striped lighthouse, and the view when you get there is totally worth it.
Looking out from here you have great views over the Minch and the Little Minch and on clear days you can see the Shiant Islands which are home to huge numbers of nesting seabirds. There are old records of northern bottlenose whales & basking sharks being hunted off the lighthouse, but today people visit with the hope of spotting whales and dolphins off the shore.
A bit about the site
It is an easy walk on a well surfaced track but can be uneven in places out to the lighthouse. The lighthouse buildings are privately owned and semi-ruinous and should not be entered even if the doors are open.
There is a bus from Tarbert that take you out to the start of the walk to the lighthouse a few time a day. Parking directly at the start of the walk is limited and additional parking can be found a few hundred metres down the road.
Wondrous creatures in the waters
Look out for
The Little Minch
You might see lots of different species from here; closer in to the shore you might see harbour porpoise, or in the summer months a basking shark. Looking further out to sea, and towards deeper waters, you could see minke whales or Risso’s dolphins. Eilean Glas looks across a stretch of water known as the Little Minch, which separates the Outer Hebrides from the Isle of Skye. This corridor connects the Sea of the Hebrides and the Minch, meaning all sorts of wondrous creatures could turn up.
Let there be light!
Eilean Glas is one of the earliest lighthouses in Scotland. It used to be lit using whale oil inside an impressive glass lens, which can now be visited at the national museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. When Alexander Reid, the first lighthouse keeper at Eilean Glas, was pensioned off with an annuity of forty guineas in 1823, the engineer reported him as “weatherbeaten and stiff by long exposure on the Point of Glas”.