The island of Grimsay in the Outer Hebrides is connected to North Uist and Benbecula by a road causeway. Hazel shares her things to do on North Uist and tells us a little about the community-owned business, Uist Wool.
Wool, wool, wool, sheep, wool, knitting, wool, weaving, oh, and wool.
Uist Wool is a community-owned spinning mill, producing premium quality undyed knitting and weaving yarn from heritage machinery. There are 5 staff members – Neil, Madde, Fiona, Ellis and Hazel plus two “Mill hounds”; Bess and Marple (they’re experts at wool-grading).
The mill was built in 2013, and has been trading since 2016. The mill was built from scratch, machinery was sourced from elsewhere in the UK because there was nothing like this here in living memory. Staff gained knowledge from a uniquely developed course of visiting tutors and field-trips and included everything from machine engineering to knitwear design and business-planning.
The team is a mix of people that grew up here and those that moved here. I think those that moved from somewhere else felt that the Outer Hebrides offered opportunities for a different lifestyle.
Grimsay is mostly moorland and the eastern coastline with no real sandy beache. We love the rocky seaweed coast just as much as the dreamy vast stretches of sand found on one of our nearby beaches, such as Baleshare on North Uist or Airport beach on Benbecula.
Bess and Marple would be the best ones to ask about this. They particularly enjoy playing in the neighbouring moorland and fields where they can bounce in the moss, hunt voles in the heather, track otter spraints and swim in the lochs. But they’re also partial to a run on the beach or a sprint up the Ruabhal (Rueval) track too.Ruabhal is the highest point on Benbecula and offers a fantastic 360 degree view of the islands.
Autumn and Winter- more knitting hours! Also midsummer for the ability to completely lose track of what time it is. Also July for the machair flowers, and the agricultural shows. August for the heather. Just all of it?
Visit the Uist Wool Mill & Wool Centre! The shop is open all year, and we run tours on Fridays through the Summer. You can also contact us if you want to see the Mill the rest of the year.
So many incredible ones that can be taken for granted – otters on the shore in front of the mill, stags in the neighbouring croft at midday (the cows weren’t happy), owls and hen harriers constantly overhead, plus eagles from time to time. Seals from the office window, ducklings in the bay, the list goes on!
The drive around Grimsay is very rewarding – twisty turny bends, amazing sea views and silhouettes of Skye, lochs, wildlife, livestock, seafood, 2 fantastic cafés, a fascinating traditional boatshed, and a brilliant spinning mill.
All of them. Crossing the causeway can be perilous because it’s easy to get distracted – take it in turns to drive and look out!
The 2 cafés on Grimsay are both great in different ways – the NaMara seafood at Kallin Harbour has great fresh shellfish and seafood ideal for a quick fishy snack, and the Ceann na h-Airigh Community Centre hosts Cidsin in a very cosy setting with a fire, ideal for a good coffee and cake or fresh salads and soups from the community greenhouse out the back.
Grimsay near North Uist isn’t one of the Outer Hebrides islands that you hear about as much as some of the bigger ones so it’s great that Hazel has shared these tips for things to do on North Uist and Grimsay. Uist Wool sounds like a great community enterprise and worth a visit.
Photos: © Uist Wool
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Check out our listings for the Outer Hebrides including accommodation on Harris and Lewis.
The “Outer Hebrides: The Western Isles of Scotland, from Lewis to Barra” from Bradt Travel Guides is the only full guide to the Outer Hebrides so definitely worth buying. You can get it from Amazon.
If you want more insider knowledge we have lots more locals and Scotland enthusiasts sharing their advice about what to see in Scotland including: