Isle of Ewe

The Isle of Ewe is situated in Loch Ewe, North of Gairloch. The island has been used for a number of purposes throughout the years, with its earliest recorded tenants being of the Mackenzie family in the 1700s.

The island was developed, beginning in the 1840s, by Dr. John Mackenzie, who drained the fields and created 

running streams which were then used for mills and a mill dam. In the following years the island became a productive farm with functioning roads, cattle, and produce.

An old boat resting on the shores of Isle Ewe.

There is also a burial site on the island which was noted as the grave of a sea captain, buried on the island sometime in the early 1800s as it is marked on a 1848 map of the island as well as still visible today.

Building Ruins
Building Ruins

Remains of a building located on Isle Ewe.

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Graveyard
Graveyard

A view of the graveyard present on the island which is surrounded by stone walls.

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Building Ruins
Building Ruins

Remains of a building on the island.

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View of Loch Ewe
View of Loch Ewe

A view of Loch Ewe which surrounds the island.

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Remains 3
Remains 3

Remains of a building on the island.

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During the Second World War, the Isle of Ewe served as a naval anchorage, and was thought to be easier to defend because of the deep water sea linking Loch Ewe to the Atlantic. To this day shells and other items from the war can be found in the waters.

Currently the island and surrounding loch can be visited by arranging kayak transport!

Naval History

Loch Ewe served as a naval anchorage during the Second World War, with four barrage balloons installed upon the island. The loch was said to be easily defended due to to the deep water which is connected to the Atlantic by a very narrow mouth.

The group with the longest stay were the 379 Battery of the 101 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment who were on the island from 1941 to 1942.

There was, however, an incident on Feb 25th 1944 where an American liberty ship, SS William H Welch, went aground near the entry of the loch. Of the 74 members of the crew only 14 members were washed ashore and only 12 survived. Mrs. Mackenzie, who owned a cottage on the island, sheltered the remaining soldiers after a rescue team from a nearby base searched for them on the beach.

There is still a naval presence within the loch currently as a NATO fuel station is located near Aultbea where naval vessels can refuel.

 

Photos Courtesy of Gairloch Museum.

Farming on the Isle of Ewe

The land on Isle Ewe was developed by Dr. John when he came into possession of the island in the 1840s. Previous to his occupation, the island was not in a shape to be farmed, although there was evidence of previous occupations. Dr. John enabled farming on the island by developing road ways, building cottages for his ploughman and shepherds, and draining the fields to create streams.

The island was productive farmland, producing ayeshire cattle as well as both fish and shellfish from the surrounding loch. Shellfish middens, which are large deposits of shells within the soil, are left behind as evidence of the productive fishing in the area.

Shown above are remains of farming equipment left on the island.

Remains of Farming Equipment
Remains of Farming Equipment
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Remains of Farming Equipment
Remains of Farming Equipment
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The island was productive farmland, producing Ayeshire cattle as well as both fish and shellfish from the surrounding loch. Shellfish middens, which are large deposits of shells within the soil, are left behind as evidence of the productive fishing in the area.

A view of the loch from the shores of Isle Ewe.

There is also record of who lived on the island at various points in time through census and letting records. The letting notice shows us that in 1901 the farm contained "between four and five hundred Cheviot and Black -face Ewes, thirty-five Goats, about twenty Cows, and as many Stirks, beside Pigs and Horses and is supposed to be rather understocked than otherwise"

Today the island still shows remnants of the farming industry it once had, as well as beautiful natural landscapes which can be seen via kayak!

Letting notice from 1901 for "The Farm of the Isle of Ewe"