Handa Island is a nature reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), and is a truly stunning destination for a day trip. One of the island’s main attractions is its spectacular sea cliffs, located on the northern and western sides of the island, which host one of Europe’s largest seabird breeding colonies. Over 100,000 birds, including guillemots and razorbills, nest on these cliffs during the summer season, making it an internationally important site for birdwatching. Visitors can observe a variety of bird activities, including nest building, feeding chicks, and defending broods from predators such as great skuas.
Aside from the seabirds, the island is also home to a variety of other wildlife. Red grouse families and common snipe are remarkably approachable, and visitors may spot cetaceans such as dolphins, minke whales, or basking sharks in the surrounding waters. The island boasts breathtaking views north to Cape Wrath or south to Stoer Point, and visitors can take in Scotland’s characteristic Torridonian sandstone mountains along the way.
Handa Island has some archaeological remains dating back centuries, when it was inhabited by villagers until 1847. Wooden boardwalk paths have been constructed along the northern cliffs, and visitors can take a 6km circular route through the island, which includes these paths. It’s important to note that some areas along the cliffs are roped off due to erosion risks, so visitors are urged to remain cautious while exploring the area.
To get to Handa Island, take the signposted roads from A894 about 3 miles north or south of Scourie/Laxford Bridge, and then board the ferry boat at Tarbet (which operates April-September from Monday to Saturday, starting at 9:30 am). The ferry costs £15 for adults and £5 for children, and booking is not required. However, the crossing depends on demand and weather conditions, so it’s best to call 07780967800 if you’re concerned. On arrival, visitors will be given an information talk and leaflet map before beginning their exploration of this beautiful and unique island.
Handa Island Wildlife Reserve Location
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