It’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the machair, Uist’s famous low-lying coastal habitat. Renowned for its abundance of colourful wildflowers, the fertile strips of land along the west coast of the islands are home to unique plant and bird life and are held dear in the hearts of most islanders, the smell of the machair in bloom being quintessential island life, distilled.
Unique to the west coasts of Scotland and Ireland, and particularly associated with the Outer Hebrides, machair is one of the rarest habitats on the globe, formed from lime-rich shell sand washed up thousands of years ago by the Atlantic, and dispersed by strong winds which spread the sand inland.
While April through to June are great times to see the nesting waders and the first wildflowers, the flowers and the rare bee species they attract come into their own in June and July.Red clover, poppy, birds-foot-trefoil, yarrow, daisies, marsh orchid, Hebridean spotted orchid, field pansy and ragged Robin are among the favourites that burst into life during summer on the machair.
Machair and its conservation is heavily entwined with crofting, which has shaped the landscape over thousands of years. Both light cattle grazing and low-intensity crop production using seaweed from the shore as fertiliser, have been carried out on the fertile, sandy soil for many generations, and in more recent times crofters have adapted their cultivation techniques to protect rare species like the corncrake.
Our bere barley is currently growing steadily among the wildflowers on the machair of North Uist and Benbecula and we are delighted to be able to play a part in the management and conservation of this unique, and beloved habitat in the production of our Nunton Whisky.