20 years of the Berneray Causeway which linked the Hebrides

The Berneray Causeway was officially opened 20 years ago this week with the stretch of road - which is just 1km long - transforming life in this stretch of the Outer Hebrides.

The Berneray causeway from  North Uist (right) to  Berneray (left)spreads out from Otternish over the Coalas Bhearnaraigh for  920 metres. It was officially opened 30 years ago this week. PIC: TSPL.
The Berneray causeway from North Uist (right) to Berneray (left)spreads out from Otternish over the Coalas Bhearnaraigh for 920 metres. It was officially opened 30 years ago this week. PIC: TSPL.

The causeway between Berneray and North Uist was opened by Prince Charles on Thursday April 8 1999 ­ a fitting return to the area for a prince who famously spent some time there incognito as a crofter.

It was a drizzly and damp day as around 400 locals gathered for the historic occasion with the royal helicopter delayed by the conditions.

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Locals came out in force to witness the final stages of construction of the Berneray causeway with it making landfall in July 1998. PIC: TSPL.

But spirits were high as this new era of island life dawned.

The causeway cost £6.6m to built and replaced the ferry which connected the two islands for generations.

The new route eased up the journey for locals, allowing an smoother flow of goods and services and making it easier to get to work and school.

Berneray Causeway was officially opened by Prince Charles, who revealed he spent time on Berneray living with crofter Donald Alex MacKillop to learn crofting skills. PIC: TSPL.

The Prince ­ well-known for his strong views on conservation and design ­ praised the way the causeway blended into its setting and made use of otter culverts and rabbit fencing to keep the animals off Berneray.

The Prince, it had emerged, made a secret trip to Berneray some eight years earlier when he stayed with crofter Donald Alex MacKillop – known as Splash - to learn crofting skills.

The April ceremony followed a celebration in December which marked the last ferry crossing.

Then Berneray’s youngest resident, Shaun Turner, aged one, and its oldest, John Macaskill, aged 89, bparded the boat to make the final trip over the Otternish,

Locals had long campaigned for the causeway to replace the old ferry service. PIC: TSPL.

The first walk across had been in early August 1998 when the final rocks were tipped into the gap on the Ardmaree, Berneray.