Parish of Uig (1831-1845) - Topography and Natural History

Name.- The word Uig is applied to many situations in the Highlands, and signifies a solitary place. It is therefore peculiarly applicable to this parish, which is situated on the west coast of the Island of Lewis. It is bounded by the Harris mountains on the south; by the Atlantic Ocean on the west; and on the north by a district of the parish of Lochs, which runs across the island from east to west.

Extent, &c.-The length of the parish is 24 miles, including the wide entry of Loch Roag, which runs the distance of 12 miles, from west to east. The breadth of the parish is 10 miles, and the circumference along the coast 40 miles.

Topographical Appearances.-The interior is more mountainous than any other part of the Lewis. The hills are intersected by extensive tracts of soft moor and fresh water lakes. The lands, for the most part, along the sea shore are low and the soil sandy. In the interior, the soil is partly clay, but principally messy, and is everywhere capable of producing forced crops, with the assistance of sea weed for manure.

The bay of Uig is the only notable bay in the parish: it is one English mile in breadth. Gallan-head is the most prominent point on the coast. It is situated about two miles north from the mouth of the bay of Uig, which is much exposed to the sounding Atlantic.

There are twelve small islands within the bounds of the parish, exclusive of the Flannel isles, which are seven in number. Of the former, four are inhabited; the other islands are peculiarly adapted for pasturing sheep and black-cattle. The Flannel Islands are about fifteen miles from the mainland of the parish. They are supposed to have been the residence of ecclesiastics in the time of the Druids; and the ruins of their temples in these lonely islands, and in several other places in this parish, are still extant.

The atmosphere is ordinarily warm and healthy; but is generally so moist that even deep falls of snow remain no longer than a few days on the ground. Although the weather is damp and hazy, we have not those torrents of rain and hurricanes of winds, to which so many other parts of the Highlands and islands are subject.

On this coast, the south, south-west, and westerly winds are the most prevailing, and in winter and spring are generally accompanied with rain and storm. Hazy weather in winter prognosticates frost, in spring snow, in summer fair weather, and in autumn rain and it is remarked that, in the stormy months of January and February, the greater number of seafowls disappear from this coast, owing to the exposure of the coast in that season to the storms from the Atlantic. The most prevailing distempers in the parish are rheumatism, colics, and epilepsy among very young infants. If these are not affected with the disease within the ninth or tenth day after their birth, they are not afterwards so subject to it.

Hydrography.-The Frith of Loch Roag runs in a south-east direction through the centre of the parish, the length of twelve miles. In the narrow parts of the channels of this long arm of the sea, the tides run very rapidly, and the water is very salt.

There are a few small perennial springs in the parish, arising out of sandy soil; their water is clear and cooling in all seasons.

The parish abounds with fresh water lakes and lochs, the largest of which do not exceed two miles in length, and one in breadth. They abound with small trout. Their water is of a brownish colour. Flat moor and low hillocks form the scenery of almost all the interior part of the Lewis,

There are four rivulets in this parish, in which salmon is caught, viz. the rivers Grimtsta and Cean Loch, which join the sea at the head of Loch Roag; Resart, which joins the sea at the head of Loch Resart and the Red River, which discharges itself into the bay of Uig.

Zoology.-Black cattle, sheep and horses, all of the small Highland breed, have been the kinds reared in this parish, from time immemorial but of late years, Cheviot and black-faced sheep have been introduced into this parish, with considerable success.

Oysters, lobsters, and every kind of shell-fish are abundant almost on every part of the shores of Loch Roag; and English vessels frequently come here, for several months, to fish lobsters.

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