An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

58.020122, -7.128945
Distance: 14.1 km
Difficulty: Moderate
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 8 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Off west coast Lewis, Outer hebrides
  • Size: 1045 ha
  • Terrain: Free range grass, some rocks with boggier areas
  • Access: Sea kayak (or Isle of Harris Sea Tours may do a drop off)
  • Height gain: 643 metres
  • Map: OS explorer 456
  • Starting point: Slipway (GR NA 987 141)
  • Accommodation/food:

    Take a picnic!

  • Island Summary:

    A wild island west of Hushinish, Harris with a sprinkling of summer residences. Plenty of ruins to explore after the last remaining islanders left in 1971. Previously, the population of Scarp peaked at 213 in 1881. Even more recently the crofter’s life on the island was basic and with little cultivatable land families relied on potatoes, cabbages, oats, turnips, milk, fish, and some lobster fishing for their food and economy. Scarp was one of several Scottish islands where all the men of the island would gather every morning in a so-called ‘parliament’, to agree the work to be done on that day – these meetings could last several hours.

    The island was the scene of two unsuccessful experiments with rocket mail by German inventor Gerhard Zucker. In July 1934 Zucker two attempts at firing rocket mail between Scarp and Harris resulted in a small explosion and a flutter of singed envelopes.

    Scarp is dominated by two hills, of which the higher (Sron Romul) reaches 308 metres.

    The island is accessed by a short kayak or boat crossing across the Kyle of Scarp from Hushinish, but the sound is very shallow and landing on Scarp can be difficult when there is a swell.

  • Look out for:
    • Wild and remote
    • Awesome views back to Harris
    • Exciting kayak trip to access it
  • Route description:

    This is a completely free-range route that follows the coastline as closely as possible. Please use the GPX trace below as a guide.

  • Getting there:

    Leave the jetty at Huisinis (GR NA 989 124) and head across the Sound of Scarp by sea kayak to land at the slipway on Scarp (GR 987 140) for the 1.6 km crossing. Isle of Harris Sea Tours may also do a drop off on the island.

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Welcome new readers

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Island overview

Find the best adventures on Scarp

Learn More

Hike to Scarp's high point

A rugged ascent of Sron Romul for spectacular views

Learn More