The beautiful island of Pabbay is situated within the magnificent island-strewn Sound of Harris, 7.5 miles southwest of Leverburgh. Once you view this lush island at close quarters, it comes as little surprise to learn that Pabbay was once known as the 'Granary of Harris' because of the high quality crops produced from its fertile soil.
The residents of Pabbay were famous for distilling illicit whisky, a practice which initially drew no objection from the Estate owners as it meant that the islanders could always afford their rent. Despite repeated attempts by the excise men, the islanders of Pabbay avoided being caught in their illegal production thanks to the ferrymen from Berneray, who would hoist a signal on the mast informing them that they had excise men on-board. This afforded the whisky distillers sufficient time to hide all the evidence before the excise men could land on Pabbay and carry out their inspections. Eventually their luck ran out and the islanders’ illicit whisky industry was rumbled. This had dire consequences for the whole community when their Factor in Rodel (South Harris), used the findings as an excuse to evict the entire population of 323 from their native island, so that he could turn the fertile island into a sheep farm. This was one of the many population clearances that took place in Harris during the 1800s and by 1846, only one shepherd and his family remained on Pabbay.
Today, Pabbay still contains a large number of sheep and wild deer which thrive on its brilliant green slopes. Glorious golden beaches reach up to the now deserted village, where the infamous barley pits are still visible. The island’s summit, Ben a Charnain, provides unparalleled views of the Sound of Harris, up towards the unspoilt beaches on the West Coast and out towards the vast Atlantic Ocean.