The village of Aird Uig may be tiny, but its inhabitants have big plans for the former military site.

When you live in the Outer Hebrides at the northern edge of Scotland, 540km away from Edinburgh, it’s not always easy to pull in the tourists. But the residents of Aird Uig have hatched a plan to make their village the next great Scottish tourism destination.

To save a village...

For decades, Aird Uig has sat next to a top secret military base at Gallan Head that over time has changed hands from the RAF to the Ministry of Defence to NATO. Now that the site is no longer in use by the military, the local community has registered an interest in taking over the buildings, with a view to saving their village.

Their plan? They aim to take advantage of the local wildlife and their remote Outer Hebrides location to convert some of the buildings into an observatory and whale listening station.

The chairman of the Gallan Head Community Trust, Martin Hayes said “The village was never told what the base was used for - it was all top secret. But we have to generate income to keep the village going and this is our chance.”

There have been suggestions of installing a hydrophone in the sea below the village to allow tourists to listen to whales, while the pitch black nights of the Outer Hebrides offers the ideal setting for an astronomical observatory.

The journey there

So how would an intrepid tourist even get to such a remote location? The best choice would probably be to opt for a car rental, picking up from Edinburgh or Glasgow, then hit the road for the Scottish highlands.

Given the distance involved, a straightforward journey from A to B is pretty much out of the question for all but the most travel hardened, but that just gives sojourners the opportunity to explore the Scottish highlands at their leisure.

From fishing for lake trout to exploring the halls of centuries old castles, northern Scotland is the perfect environment for the traveller looking for something just a little bit off the beaten track. Of course, to get to the island village itself, you need to board a ferry. There’s a few to choose from, and if you’re after the most direct route you’d be best off embarking at Uig on Skye. But what’s a few extra kilometres when you’ve come this far? It would be a shame to head this far north without visiting Ullapool. It’s well known as a major Scottish tourist destination in spite of its diminutive size, and boasts a thriving music and arts scene. From here you can catch the ferry across to Stornoway on Lewis, putting you on the Outer Hebrides just a leisurely hour’s drive from Aird Uig.

The call of the Highlands

While at this stage it’s uncertain whether or not the village of Air Uig will be able get their ambitious plan for an observatory and whale listening station off the ground, the wilds of northern Scotland will always appeal to those looking for the freedom and exhilaration that comes from embarking on your very own adventure.

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