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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > Hebrides > Inner Hebrides > Small Isles > Canna

Canna

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Iorcail, Isle of Canna

Canna is the westernmost of the Small Isles off the west coast of Scotland. It's joined by a road to the smaller island of Sanday, and the channel between them dries out at low tide. Canna, Sanday and their surrounding skerries are owned and managed by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), and are run as a farm and conservation area. There's a small settlement near the ferry pier at the east end of Canna, while the western part and Sanday are uninhabited.

Get in[edit]

Rocket church, Canna

First get to Mallaig by train, bus or car. You'll need an overnight stop before taking the Calmac ferry onward next morning, except perhaps for the Saturday afternoon sailing.

These ferries sail every day, but to different Small Isles on different days. In summer (April-Oct) they call at Canna and return to Mallaig on Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun. Day trips from Mallaig to Canna can be made on Saturday, with 8 hours ashore.

In winter (Nov-March) the ferries call on Tues and Thurs, plus Sunday on request; no day trips are possible.

Sightseeing trips from Arisaig frequently visit Canna from May to Sept.

All routes are for foot passengers only; dogs and bikes welcome but you can't bring a car. 1 Canna Ferry Pier is on the east side of the island. This is the best anchorage with your own boat, sheltered by Sanday island.

Get around[edit]

Walk, it's hardly worth bringing a bike, and of course you can't bring a car. Canna is 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) long and 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) wide, with only a mile-long unpaved lane between the ferry pier and the bridge to Sanday, then a rough track continuing west for a further mile. The rest is soggy moorland.

See[edit]

Canna house
  • 1 Canna House. Closed for restoration. Villa built in the 1860s, but furnished as for mid 20th C when the owners amassed a collection around Gaelic culture and language, and butterflies and moths. You can explore the gardens but the house is closed for restoration, the likely re-opening date has not been announced.
  • 2 Canna Rhu Church (Rocket Church or St Columba's) (Near ferry pier). Completed in 1914 by the Thom family; Joanna and Allan Thom are the only occupants of its graveyard. For reasons unknown it's oriented ENE-WSW not east-west; it's called the "Rocket Church" because of its distinctive tower. The wrought iron gates were added in 1969. Although still consecrated, it's seldom used, as it's a Presbyterian church while most islanders are Catholic - the RC St Columba's is further up the lane.
  • Ancient sites: the main collection is at A'Chill or Keill, which may have been a monastery. ("Kil-" in Scottish placenames denotes a hermit's cell.) Here find the Punishment Stone - offenders supposedly had their thumb jammed into a notch in it; the Celtic Cross; and several Souterrain underground chambers. On the north coast are the Viking’s Grave and more Souterrains. West of that is the low-lying strip of land of Tarbert, continue along the south coast to Sgor nam Ban-Naomha (ie "nunnery" though more likely a hermitage).
  • St Edward's Chapel or "Fisherman's Shrine", built in 1890 on Sanday. But it keeps letting in water and is now disused. Continue across Sanday to see the puffin stack near the southeast tip.

Do[edit]

  • Birdwatching: look out for sea eagles, golden eagles, buzzards, puffins, shelducks, and merganser ducks.
  • Report a rat! Brown (Norway) rats practically devoured this island in the 20th C, but were systematically eradicated by 2008, and Canna is now rat-free. Ground-nesting birds such as the Manx Shearwater depend upon this. So report it if you think you see a rat, but don't try to whack it yourself. You'd only succeed if it was something else, eg a wood mouse or shrew. The NTS have similar ambitions for the island's rabbits.

Buy[edit]

You can have provisions sent over from Mallaig, see Small Isles#Buy.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Cafe Canna, West Bothy, PH44 4RS (Near ferry pier), +44 1687 482488. May-Aug W-M 11:00-22:00, dinner from 18:00; 1-15 Sept W-M 13:00-21:00, dinner from 17:00. Closed Tu & winter. Licensed café; fresh Scottish cooking, locally sourced where possible.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Canna Campsite (near bridge to Sanday), +44 1687 462477. Sheltered campsite & hostel with great views. 8 tent pitches, 2 caravans sleep 4-6, bunkhouse with 6-bed and 2-bed rooms, 3 camping pods sleep 5-8. Sleeping bags etc can be hired. With cook shack & shower block. Tent pitch £10, bunkhouse £15, caravan £45, pod from £25.
  • 2 Tighard Guest House, +44 1687 462474. B&B with 3 rooms en suite (one king, two twin). They plan a more luxurious, upmarket place for 2019. From £90.

Connect[edit]

The phone

There is a telephone box on the island and the cafe has internet connection. No mobile phone connection.

Go next[edit]

On Saturday a day-trip is possible from Canna to Muck (4 hours ashore) and Eigg (3 hours). Transfers to Eigg, Muck and Rum are possible on other days. Eventually you have to circle back to Mallaig on the mainland.

This city travel guide to Canna is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.