Prince Charles Edward Stuart's first landfall in Scotland was on the Island of Eriskay on 23rd July 1745.
Accompanied by only seven supporters the Prince landed off the French frigate Du Teillay at Coilleag a Phrionnsa. Ranald MacDonald, the Captain or chief of the MacDonalds of Clanranald was absent at the time so the Prince summoned his half-brother, Alasdair MacDonald of Boisdale to meet him on Eriskay. Alasdair told him that he would receive no support from the the local clans, the MacDonalds of Clanranald, the MacDonalds of Sleat in Skye and the MacLeods of Skye. He advised the Prince to go back home.
The Prince then sailed over to the mainland where he managed to raise an army and enjoyed some military success before being soundly defeated at the Battle of Culloden on 16th April 1746. Again the Prince headed for the west coast – this time as a fugitive with a bounty of £30,000 on his head. He engaged Donald MacLeod as his boatman and pilot to take him across the Minch.
For bit of fun, a sketch from the BBC Gaelic comedy series Ran Dan (English subtitles) Bonnie Prince Charlie - The Arrival
Coilleag a’ Phrionnsa (The Prince’s Cockle Strand) is one of the prettiest and most sheltered beaches in the Uists. The beach is named after Bonnie Prince Charlie as it was here he first stepped foot on Scottish soil.
On the machair land surrounding this beach you can find Sea Bindweed – a flower which is not found anywhere else in the Hebrides. The seeds of this flower are believed to have fallen from Bonnie Prince Charlie’s pocket when he came ashore.
As well as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Beach, Eriskay is also famous for the SS Politician, the cargo ship that ran aground and sank at Calvay near Rossinish on Eriskay in February 1941. The 28,000 cases of whisky it was carrying went down with it but not before many of the islanders managed to ‘salvage’ some for themselves!
WALKS ON ERISKAY
The beach itself offers a beautiful, gentle walk. If you start from the south side of the beach near Ceann a’ Gharraidh where the ferry leaves for Barra and venture along the grass by the edge of the sand for approx 320 metres you will come to the Cairn which was erected by Eriskay school children in 1995, marking the 250th anniversary of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s arrival on the beach.
Continuing north along the beach you can climb up the rocks at the north end taking you to a path which will lead you around the coast towards the main village, coming inland again at the back of Am Politician, the Island’s public house. You can also do a circular walk starting at the Am Politician, by going along the beach, back up along the road until you get back to the Am Politican. Click here for the route
Rossinish is another beautiful area to take a walk around with a range of ruins of traditional black houses, white houses and more recent concrete houses. To get to Rossinish head for Haun and carry on along this road until it ends. From here you can join a track which takes you through a gate and along the coast towards the east, passing many of the ruins and enjoying beautiful views across to South Uist and to Calvay. The SS Politician sank just to the east of Calvay.
Next location is Location B - Benbecula
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