Valasay Cottage

Enjoy the

About

Valasay Cottage is located across a footbridge at Valasay (Bhalasaigh) near Breacleit on Great Bernera, in the magical Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The self-catering cottage is perfectly situated to get away from it all and enjoy nature and tranquillity. There are a few honesty sheds nearby for essentials, the nearest larger shops are a 40min drive. Callanish standing stones are 20min driving, Arnol blackhouses 45min. For otters and sea eagles, you might not need to leave the cottage at all, as both are occasionally seen, both in Tob Bhalasaigh and along the seashore.

Amenities

  • Internet – Wireless
  • TV
  • Fireplace
  • Bath
  • Coffee machine (Tassimo)
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • Dryer

If you have 10 minutes, why not head over to this facebook video and watch the drive across Bernera bridge and down to Bostadh beach. At 3:30 is where you'd turn left towards Bhalasaigh and arrive at Valasay Cottage in another 2 minutes driving.

Nearby

Tob Bhalasaigh is designated as a priority site of special scientific interest as a sheltered lagoon with a rare mixture of seaweeds only found in this unusual mix of salt and fresh water. The "Great Bernera Trail" leading up to the magnificent beach at Bostadh passes through Valasay, it takes about 2h to walk to Bostadh. Chances are you'll need longer because every 10 minutes you'll stop to take in the scenery and look for birds and cetaceans. Callanish standing stones are a 20min drive away, Gearrannan Blackhouse Village is 35min away.

Bedroom

Drone footage by "CalCo Macleod" from October 2021. Valasay Cottage can be seen briefly around 1:10

History

Bernera is known for its Iron Age (or possibly Pictish) settlement at Bostadh, discovered in 1992 and now covered by sand to preserve it. A replica Iron Age house matching those now buried is sited nearby. The island was the location of the Bernera Riot of 1874, where crofters resisted the Highland clearances. The main industry on Bernera today is lobster-fishing. There are still some weavers but it is no longer one of the main industries.

Prince Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees, a former Queen's Herald, bought the island of Great Bernera in 1962. He was recognised as Laird of Bernera until his death in 2012, upon which his grandson, Cyran de la Lanne-Mirrlees, inherited the estate.

The image below shows the cottage circa 1950's. The footbridge was built in 1898, the raised middle footbridge was upgraded in 1962. Since then, the bridge has been altered and upgraded a number of times, eventually removing the stairs and thus making the bridge more accessible.

Great Bernera

The Macdonalds

The most common name on Great Bernera is MacDonald, and these are said to be descended from a watchman of the Macaulays of Uig, who gave him the island in return for his services.

1825

The Uig evictions began when Kirkibost and Little Bernera were cleared to make way for Linshader Farm.

1874

Bernera Riot. A court case exposes the maltreatment of the peasant classes in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and exposes the corruption that was inherent in the land-owning class.

July 22nd, 1953

Opening ceremony of the Bernera bridge, the first pre-stressed concrete bridge in Europe

Valasay Cottage

Tobson 24 croft

ca. 1811

Records from the 1841 Census show a croft tenancy for 24 Valasay ca. 1811.

1977

Oldest deed in the modern records dates from 1977, for Valasay 24B

1988

Valasay 24B, aka Valasay Cottage, is completely renovated

since 2015

Valasay Cottage is let as self-catering holiday home

Images

Images of the cottage and the nearby surroundings.

Wildlife

Eagles

The are two species of eagles present on the Hebrides, the golden eagle and the white-tailed eagle (also known as sea eagle). The golden eagles prefer the hills, and are most commonly seen around North Harris. The "Harris Eagle Observatory" is a great place to look for them. Sea eagles, on the other hand, can be seen all along the coast on the Isle of Lewis. In fact, Great Bernera is a great place to see them.

Tip: to spot a white-tailed eagle, don't just look up, but also along the coastline. If you see gulls mobbing a bird, it's quite likely an eagle.

White-tailed eagle looking for fish
White-tailed eagle
Juvenile white-tailed eagle

Deer

While red deer are extremely rare on Great Bernera, there's a good chance of seeing them once you've crossed the Bernera bridge onto Lewis.

Tip: the best time to see deer is around dawn. Drive carefully, as they will often graze close to roads, and are not as used to traffic as the sheep are.

Red deer at Bernera Junction
Red deer at dusk near Crùlabhig
Red deer early morning near Iarshader

Otters

Otters are tricky animals to spot. There is only one species of otter in the UK, but the behavior of freshwater otters is fundamentally different from the coastal "sea" otters. Freshwater otters are usually nocturnal, and a male otter will occupy a territory of up to 30km of river (there might be 2-3 females in that territory).

Coastal otters, on the other hand, are mainly active during the day, and their territories are much smaller.

Otter
Otter
Otter

Tip: otters are not creatures of habit. Any observation tips like "best during receding tide" should be taken with a grain of salt. Just keep your eyes open. When walking along the shore, try to not show your silhouette against the sky.

Let's say you've just pulled up to Valasay Cottage:

Did you spot the otter swimming off to the left?

Seals

There are two species of seals commonly seen nearby. The grey seal is the larger of the two, with a flatter nose (sometimes described as a "horse face"). Female grey seals tend to have bellies slightly paler than the darker grey backs. The harbor seal is smaller, but size can be deceptive, and female grey seals are not much larger than harbor seals. A harbor seal's face is more forward-looking, with a slightly upturned nose.

Grey seal
Harbor seals
Grey seals

Bumblebees

Closer to home, there are several species of bumble bees you're likely to see in the garden of Valasay Cottage.

White-tailed Bumblebee

White-tailed Bumblebee. Note that the "waist" (between thorax and abdomen) is black, and the black band before the white tail is rather narrow.

Garden bumblebee

Garden bumblebee. Note that the "waist" is yellow(ish), starting just behind the wing, and then a fairly broad black band before the white tail.

Carder bee

Both the Moss Carder Bee and the Common Carder Bee are found. They can be hard to distinguish, but if you see any black hairs on thorax or abdomen it'll be a Common Carder bee. This one here is probably a Moss Carder Bee.

There are several other bumble bee species found on the machair, of which the Great Yellow bumblebee is probably the most prestiguous find.

Pets

Pets are not allowed at Valasay Cottage.

Testimonials

Some of our favorite reviews from Airbnb. (Some of these are under the listing of the previous owner)

We really enjoyed our stay at Valasay Cottage! The location was absolutely incredible. The photos of the cottage do not do it justice - large, bright and cosy spaces with much bigger bedrooms and living area than we expected. We were blown away by the high specification of the cottage and think it is great value for money. An incredibly special place and a holiday we will treasure forever. Thank you!

Julia

2022

Sometimes on your travels you find somewhere special. You are miles from the bustle, but closer to the world here. Be prepared to be self-sufficient and make the most of the peace and the wildlife and really unwind.

Brian

2022

Fantastic location for people who love a holiday away from it all. The house is warm and cosy and well equipped and the views are stunning. Lovely wee secluded garden as well. Plan well ahead the nearest shop is a long way away and pack your luggage well to reduce trips back and forth over the footbridge. We just loved all of it. No sound but the tide, wind and birdsong. No traffic. Amazing!

Ute

2021

This is in the most amazing location and watching the water flow in and out of the loch through the bridge is wonderful. Overall really well equipped and great for visiting the island plus Uig Sands restaurant is fantastic. Saw a pair of golden eagles very close over in Tobson.

Dave

2021

We travelled from Derbyshire, England and Valasay Cottage didn't disappoint. The location is obviously stunning but we also found the cottage to be a perfect mix of feeling homely and authentic, as well as modern and very comfortable. Thank you for the VERY comfortable beds and the best shower after a day swimming in the wild sea. For a family of four - the cottage is perfect - we loved the toy basket & TV in the kid's room especially! We don't want to leave, and will certainly be back.

Rachael

2023

Contact and book

Location:

Valasay Cottage, Valasay, HS2 9NB Isle of Lewis, UK

WhatsApp:

+44 795 855 7571

Booking:

On Airbnb, or send us an email
Prices depend on the season, a week is between £700 and £1200.