CC BY-SA, john m macfarlane / Heather Isle M collecting Guga hunters

Location: Lewis
lighthouses, the natural world, archaeology

Sula Sgeir

Sula Sgeir is a narrow but imposing island, with cliffs as high as 75 metres, 40 miles north of the northern tip of Lewis. It has never been inhabited- as well as its remoteness, it is lacking a source of water and very little grows there. It host the ruins of a small medieval temple and a lighthouse.

For hundreds of years men from Ness, the northermost community on Lewis, have sailed to Sula Sgeir for an annual ‘guga’ hunt. Living in stone bothies made of overlapping slabs, the hunters spend a fortnight on the island hunting young gannets- bringing back around 2000 young birds a year. Guga is considered a delicacy. This practice is thought to go back to at least 1549 when it first appears in the historical record.

Scotland’s environmental agency NatureScot licenses the hunt and have declared it sustainable.
Sula Sgeir has been a national nature reserve since 1956.

More information on visiting the area can be found here.