The Uists, Benbecula and Barra make up the main islands of the southern Western Isles. North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay are connected by causeways to each other and by air and ferry to the mainland. A ferry connects these islands to Barra in the south.
The Uists and Barra have a similar rich cultural, historical and religious heritage as their neighbouring island of Lewis and Harris. The Uists are MacDonald country, although from two different branches of the same family. One famous ancestor is Flora MacDonald, who was said to have helped the fleeing Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Jacobite rising in 1745.
Barra, on the other hand is home to the MacNeil clan, after Roderick MacNeil received a charter from King James II of all the lands of Barra and its Isles. After the land was sold and during the Clearances that followed many clansfolk emigrated to the Americas.
Lochmaddy is the main town in North Uist, where the ferry from Uig and Barra docks; Lochboisdale the centre of population for South Uist; and Castlebay for Barra. The Uists are generally rocky on the east side an hilly in the interior and flatter and pitted with sea loch sand long sandy beaches on the west.
They are a haven for anglers, wildlife watchers and twitchers while the roads are popular with cyclists and the hills with walkers. Yachts are regular summer visitors as the inlets, beaches and coastline attract experienced sailors.
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