Outer Hebrides - An t-Eilean Fada
The Outer Hebrides lie 70 km off the west coast of Scotland and comprise over 15 inhabited islands and over 100 smaller islands and skerries. The main archipelago extends over 200 km from Lewis in the north to Mingulay in the south. The outlying, remote, North Atlantic islands of St. Kilda, Sula Sgeir and North Rona are not geologically part of the archipelago but have cultural links to the Outer Hebrides. The islands each have a distinct character and an array of habitats; peaty uplands and blanket bogs of Lewis contrast with the rugged mountains of Harris and the machair and sandy beaches of the Uists and Barra.
Geologically the archipelago comprises Lewisian gneiss, some of the oldest rock in Europe, which has been transformed by the action of ice, wind, rain and waves into a distinctive Hebridean landscape. These wild lands have also been shaped by the hand of man, through cultivation, grazing and woodland clearance; and are now recognised as internationally important with respect to their habitats, fauna and flora. Through recording, mapping and monitoring their biodiversity we can help to safeguard their future by providing the information that is required to enable land managers and statutory authorities to make informed decisions.