Campervan freecamping on Barra, Hebrides (Western Isles)

EDIT 6th April 2010:

A resident of Barra has been in touch with an update about the freecamping / wild camping situation on Barra and other islands, as campervanning has become more popular. Please read the message and follow the links below for more info:

Since last year when many of the Hebridean islands were overwhelmed with campervans and campers, there have been changes in Barra, as well as in other islands – particularly the Inner Isles.

The area at Barra airport was so damaged, that it has now been fenced off and no vehicles are allowed there at all. That includes locals who also liked to park there and walk on the Traigh.

There have been very positive moves to identify places where people can camp – in particular crofts where crofters are entitled to have up to three vans parked from May to September without needing planning.

Please see these links for Barra, Islay, Tiree, Coll and Colonsay so that you can see the conditions now restricting ‘wild camping':

Original post

We took our campervan up to the Hebrides (Western Isles) in June 2009. There aren’t many campsites so we ended up freecamping. This is where you park up at a spot and stay the night free of charge.

Luckily free camping is generally well accepted on all of the islands in the Hebrides, and we thought that we’d write a brief guide to all of the places we freecamped.

Barra is where we started our trip, taking the ferry from Oban to Castlebay, so that’s where the guide starts.

1. Vatersay Village Hall

This is mentioned in various places on the web and in the guide books. We thought it would be quiet, but it seemed that all the campers off the ferry headed for it! The village hall is located just north of the Vatersay village, on the road as you come from Castlebay to Vatersay – about 10 minutes’ drive. You can’t miss it – just as you see the beautiful white sands Vatersay east and west beaches, the village hall is on the right on a bend on the road.

View the location on our map of Barra free camping.

The hall has a toilet (open 24hrs) and an outside tap. There’s also a picnic bench. There are enough spaces for about 4 campervans in the car park, two opposite, one just a little bit away from the hall, and we did see someone parked up further down the road but this seemed to be on the machair and didn’t look like a proper space.

The walk around Vatersay is lovely, down to south beach past the old standing stone:

Standing stone, Vatersay, Freecamping Hebrides

2. Eoligarry jetty

Eoligarry is at the northern end of Barra, past the airport. There’s a jetty that was in place for the old Eriskay ferry which no longer runs. It’s a beautiful spot with views across to Funday, Eriskay and South Uist. We saw gannets and seals from the beach.

Freecamping at Eoligarry Jetty, Barra, Hebrides

The car park allows around 6 or more campers and there are two 24 hour toilets. There’s also recycling for cans etc.

The jetty is beautiful and there are beach walks down towards the airport or north towards the north of the island. You can also walk inland past fields with nesting corncrakes which you can easily hear in the summer but which aren’t so easy to see; however we were extremely lucky to observe this one making his distinctive call across the other side of a field:

Corncrake, Eoligarry, Barra, Hebrides

There’s also Cille Barra with a replica of the Kilbarr stone (the original of which dates back to the 9th century), and the peak of Ben Eoligarry.

Kilbarr Stone (replica), Cille Barra, Freecamping Hebrides

3. Barra Airport (Cockleshell Bay)

As per the message above, please don’t consider camping here. The area is fenced off.

All these places are marked on our map of freecamping on Barra on Google maps.

We have more pictures of Barra and freecamping on other parts of the Hebrides.

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