Scotland has a host of windswept and stunningly beautiful islands now long since abandoned by their residents.

Once home to small yet resilient communities, these often remote locations now only provide homes to vast numbers of wildlife.

These are some of Scotland's most notable abandoned islands: 

St Kilda is among the best known, evacuated in 1930 after life became too challenging for the islanders. Now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, their row of homes on Hirta are a monument to a now lost and unique way of life.

HeraldScotland: Archive image of inhabitants of St KildaArchive image of inhabitants of St Kilda (Image: PA)

In the Outer Hebrides, Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray, south of Barra, with their dramatic landscape, vibrant wildlife and sandy beaches, are now left to nature. Having been occupied for 2,000 years, islanders left Mingualy and Pabbay in 1912, after the combined impact of absentee landlords and dwindling population made life unviable. Berneray’s islanders clung on until 1980.

The islands were taken over by NTS in 2000.


READ MORE: Abandoned 100 years ago, this Shetland island remains in hearts of descendants

The treacherous Corryvechan whirlpool separates Scarba from Jura. Unoccupied since the 1960s, it was once known for its hardy residents: one islander is said to have lived until she was 140.  Kilmory Lodge on the island is sometimes used by shooting parties stalking its population of red deer.

Handa off the Sutherland coast is a haven for puffins, razorbills and guillemots, with a grim history: it was once used as a burial ground, safe from scavenging wolves that once prowled the north of Scotland.

Similar to St Kilda, islanders had their own parliament which met daily to deal with pressing issues of the day, and the oldest widow was considered its Queen.  But a failed potato crop in 1846 caused widespread famine, and the islanders left, most bound for a new life in Nova Scotia.

Just two miles long, the Orkney isle of Fara in Scapa Flow was home to 76 residents in 1805, with its own school and lush sheep pasture for crofters’ flocks.

But life elsewhere was less harsh and more attractive. By the late 1950s, their numbers had slumped to just five – within a few years, the island would be abandoned.

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Just north of John O’Groats, the island of Stroma has ancient stone structures erected by its earliest residences, while the Orkneyinga Saga refers to a Norse presence around 1,000 years ago. Just a few miles off the coast, the strong tides of the Pentland Firth left its inhabitants isolated and largely self-sufficient – often making use of items washed ashore from vessels struck by the treacherous seas.

Although home to 375 people in 1901, by the early 1960s there were just 12 left. Stroma was abandoned in 1997, when the lighthouse keepers and families departed. It is now owned by a former inhabitant who uses it to graze sheep.

Belnahua was once a thriving heart of Scotland’s slate industry, providing slate for buildings across the land.

One of the Firth of Lorn’s ‘Slate Islands’, in the 1790s its owners leased it to supply slate for the new town of Oban. Cottages for workers were built, with a school and company store.

READ MORE: Long-lost Highland community discovered by deerstalker

But while a community grew to 150, the island was bereft of agriculture: everything had to be brought by boat, including drinking water. The First World War saw a halt to quarry work, the land was abandoned and uninhabited since.

Abandoned industrial machinery, deserted homes and a deep pool of water in the former quarry are testimony to its former life.

Picturesque as it is, two devastating events mean few could blame the families of the most northerly island of the Outer Hebrides, North Rona, of wanting to leave.

HeraldScotland: North Rona (image: Paul Bridge/Geograph)North Rona (image: Paul Bridge/Geograph) (Image: Paul Bridge/Geograph)

The most remote island in the British Isles ever to have been inhabited on a long-term basis – it’s the closest neighbour to the Faroe Islands – its first resident is said to have been Saint Ronan in the 8th century.

However, its entire population of around 30 people died shortly after 1685, when rats, thought to have reached the island after a shipwreck, raided food stocks of barley meal and, it’s thought, spread disease before themselves starving to death.

The island was resettled, but a boating tragedy in 1695 seriously impacted their numbers. By 1884, the last shepherd and his family had left.

While the Flannan Islands - 20 miles to the west of Lewis – are the site of a lingering unsolved mystery, where in early 1900s, an entire crew of lighthouse keepers disappeared, never to be seen again. They islands have been uninhabited since the automation of the lighthouse in the 1970s.

Two miles west of Harris in the Outer Hebrides is Taransay – one of the largest uninhabited islands since its abandonment in the 1970s.  However, it was briefly occupied in 2000, when it was used as the location for reality television show, Castaway.

It an uninhabited island sounds appealing, it is now possible to acquire a slice of undisturbed solitude. Barlocco Island, in Fleet Bay, Dumfries and Galloway, which has  no buildings and no previous occupants, is currently up for sale, for offers over £150,000.