Scalpay, Outer Hebrides
|OS grid reference||NG214965|
|Gaelic name||Sgalpaigh na Hearadh/Sgalpaigh|
|Meaning of name||scallop island or ship Island|
|Area and summit|
|Area||653 ha (2.5 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||Beinn Scorabhaig 104 m (341 ft)|
|Pop. density||44.5 people/km221|
|Main settlement||An Acarsaid a Tuath (North Harbour)|
|Island group||Lewis and Harris|
|Local Authority||Comhairle nan Eilean Siar|
|Where shown, area and population ranks are for all Scottish islands and all inhabited Scottish islands respectively. There are c. 300 islands >20ha in extent. There were 93 permanently inhabited islands listed in the 2011 census and more than 20 others that are inhabited from time to time.|
Scalpay is around 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) long and rises to a height of 104 metres (341 ft) at Beinn Scorabhaig. The area of Scalpay is 653 hectares (2.52 sq mi). The main settlement on the island is at the north, near the bridge, clustered around An Acairseid a Tuath (north harbour).
The island is peppered with small lochans. The largest of these is Loch an Duin (loch of the fort) which has a tiny island in it, with the remains of the fort still visible. Eilean Glas, a tiny peninsula on Scalpay's eastern shore is home to the first lighthouse to be built in the Outer Hebrides.
Scalpay's nearest neighbour, Harris is just 300 metres (980 ft) away over narrows of Caolas Scalpaigh. In 1997, the Scalpay bridge was built from mainland Harris5 replacing a ferry service.
The vast majority of the locals in Scalpay are Protestants. The island is home to two Presbyterian churches, the Free Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing). Like most places in the Outer Hebrides, Sunday is a day that locals use to rest from work and attend church. Respect for the Sabbath is appreciated by the islanders and they warmly welcome all visitors to meet with them during the services.
In 2001, the island had a population of 322 people, whose main employment was fish farming and prawn fishing. By 2011 the population had declined by 9% to 2912 whilst during the same period Scottish island populations as a whole grew by 4% to 103,702.7
Scalpay is home to many Gaelic singers and psalm presenters. The island used to have more than 10 shops over 30 years ago but due to lack of people and work, the last shop closed in 2007. There also used to be a salmon factory which was a major local employer from 2001 until its closure in 2005. In the spring of 2009, local newspapers reported that the factory was to reopen as a net washing facility to support the local fish farming industry. In 2012, the Scalpay community bought and opened a community shop/cafe, Buth Scalpaigh.8
In 2011 the island's owner, Fred Taylor, announced that he proposed handing over the land to the local population. Two ideas were suggested: one where the island is owned by a local development trust, and another where it forms part of the larger North Harris Trust, itself community owned.9 Islanders voted to accept the gift and assume community ownership of the island. They will go into partnership with the North Harris Community Trust to run the island.10
- Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
- National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf) Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- Ordnance Survey. Get-a-map (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure. http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/oswebsite/getamap/. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
- Mac an Tàilleir, Iain (2003) Ainmean-àite/Placenames. (pdf) Pàrlamaid na h-Alba. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
- "Scalpay Bridge". Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. Retrieved 23 Jan 2012.
- Mac an Tàilleir p. 103
- "Scotland's 2011 census: Island living on the rise". BBC News. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
- "Scalpay community shop opening". Stornoway Gazette. 9 May 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2013.
- "Islanders offered home as a ‘free gift’ from London owner"". Senscot, quoting the Press and Journal. 18 Feb 2011. Retrieved 11 Mar 2011.
- "Scalpay islanders vote in favour of takeover". BBC News. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 2 June 2013.