Will I personally own a Scottish island?
The strict legal answer is 'No' as Friends of Sgarabhaigh
Limited, with which you have a contract, formally owns the
of the island. However the contract designates you an ‘Associate
Owner’, which in turn confers the following rights:
• A lifetime’s contractual interest with the Company
that owns the freehold to the island and is mandated to conserve
the island for the enjoyment of all Associate Owners.
Full and equal rights of access to the island.
A heritage package of artefacts including proof of your legal
contractual interest in the island.
A right to nominate a person to re-register their Associate
Owner rights when they become available.
A share in any net proceeds of the island in the, currently
inconceivable, event of the island being sold.
The Company’s commitments require it to manage the island
for the enjoyment of its Associate Owners (AO’s) for
their lifetime with the presumption that the island will be
managed in an environmentally responsible way and never be
sold. We consequently conclude that, in the light of the above
rights conferred, the clear intent of wanting to share the
island, and the fact that the Contract entitles AO’s
to a share in any net sale proceeds of the island that we would
be justified in referring to Associate Owners as ‘ Island
Owners’ even though in the strict legal context they
have no claim on the freehold. The fact is that the positive
benefits of ownership accrue to Associate Owners without liability,
so it could be concluded that it is a form of ‘ownership
without responsibility’ perhaps a type of holding better
than full liability ownership.
Can I Visit the island?
Yes, as an Associate Owner you can visit as and when you wish. The Company Board may, if visitor numbers became excessive and posed an environmental threat to the island and its wildlife, wish to discourage access for a short time at critical times of the year to reduce any specific environmental threat. However, it is not anticipated that this situation will arise and even if it did I am sure that our Associate Owners would act in a responsible manner and do whatever is best for the island, its environment and its wildlife whilst retaining ample opportunity for their visit.
Do I need specific permission to visit?
You can visit the island as you wish at any time. You will, however, be responsible for your own travel arrangements and the safety implications for yourself and any visitors that visit with you. You should also bear in mind that Sundays remain special on the islands and it is impossible to buy petrol or charter boats - except in exceptional circumstances. See the Visits section of the website for more information. Anyone wishing to wild camp on the island is respectfully asked inform us of their intention to do so both as a courtesy to the Board and to ensure, for their own safety, that they are fully aware of the issues and risks related to camping overnight on an uninhabited island in an area where the weather can change very rapidly.
Is access to the island easy?
Access to the Outer Hebrides is relatively easy for a more
remote location. Access to Sgarabhaigh will generally be by
boat and as there is no landing stage or dock, boat access
is only realistically viable for fully ambulant people. However,
as islands in the Sound of Harris go, access is pretty good
for the nimble footed and you can step directly onto the shoreline
at almost any state of the tide. The island can also be viewed
at very close quarters from a boat with the added advantage
of the island seal colony popping up by the boat to check you
Is the island inhabited?
The island is not inhabited but it does have the ruins of
three small ‘Bothies’ which were rudimentary buildings
used by shepherds at appropriate times of the year while they
tended the flocks of sheep that have grazed the island.
Is the island famous for anything?
As a property it has been home to a small flock of sheep each
summer. None of the sheep have made a national or international
impact on the world as far as we are aware but who knows whose
table they ended up on? However, had you been on the island
in 1746 and had you been looking east to Skye, it is said that
you would have had three opportunities to see Bonnie Prince
Charlie as he sought to evade the pursuing English after his
defeat at the Battle of Culloden. The same view today remains
unchanged, except of course for the Bonnie Prince, providing
testimony to the unchanging continuity of the place.
When is the best time to visit?
It has been known to rain occasionally in Scotland and the
odd breeze is likely too! If you visit between May and September
you will benefit from the highest average daily temperature,
the lowest average number of days with rain and the minimum
number of days with gales. However, when the sun does shine
out of the indescribably blue Hebridean sky and the temperatures
get to 20C+ you will feel you are in God’s country… and
of course you will be right.
Can I pass my holding on?
Yes. The Company’s current policy and
principal aim is to see the Holdings passed on down the ages
for all time. A nominal fee will be charged for re-registration,
currently 10% of the purchase cost of the Sgarabhaigh Package,
to cover the related administration.Through this process
the holding will become linked to your family through the ages.
The original and subsequent family purchasers will gain a sprinkling
of immortality as future generations reflect on the holding
and its provenance recorded in the box(es). You will be incorporating
Sgarabhaigh, the Western Isles and Scotland into your family
How many Associate Owners will there to be?
Friends of Sgarabhaigh Limited currently
anticipates releasing up to 5,000 Associate Owners Certificates
over the next five years. The first issue is for 1,000 to be
sold at the initial price after which the level of interest
in the project will determine the cost, the rate of release
and the extent of sales. The distribution worldwide could well
influence the number of AOC’S that it is practical to
issue based on likely visitor numbers and environmental considerations.
It should also be stated here that the ‘Holding’ is
not a financial investment since a fundamental principle is
that the island will never be sold. It is an investment in
heritage, family folklore, the environment and the very essence
of the Outer Hebrides. This is surely an investment well beyond
How can you provide such a comprehensive package and an interest
in an island for such a competitive price?
It is a fact that the box and its contents are largely handmade
and it is a good quality product and as such was not cheap
to produce. However, this project has been the realisation
of a dream of the principal project sponsor and the financial
returns were not the primary driving force. As the project,
evolved over 40 years, with detailed development over two years,
the price of the package has only been made possible because
the Project Director has put all his time in for the love of
the project. This has taken a substantial cost element out
of the equation and provided an initial box price that is below
a full commercial cost. For later box issues it will be necessary
to review the price, particularly if additional time input
from other people is required. So, for early purchasers, enjoy
the bargain package and good luck to you.
What is the position if for some unforeseen reason the island
Firstly, it is currently considered extremely unlikely that
the island could ever be sold not least because of the Company’s
contractual obligation to Associate Owners. A fundamental premise
of the project is that the island be retained to protect its
environment and allow visits by existing and future Associate
Owners in perpetuity. However as ‘forever’ is a
long time the contractual commitments of Friends of Sgarabhaigh
Limited require that, in the event of a sale being required,
then the proceeds of any sale would be equally shared between
all Associate Owners alive at that time less the original purchase
price and any administrative costs of the Company including
distribution of the payments. I have to restate that this is
an eventuality that is inconceivable at this point in time
and would only occur on currently unforeseen circumstances
but at least you can see the proposed protections included
in the contractual arrangements. It is felt that this position
provides an inherent further security for all Associate Owners.
Can there be any development on the island?
The Company has reserved all development rights but currently
only anticipates works that would be provided to minimise the
impact of visitors i.e. paths, toilets, environmentally acceptable
planting and a landing stage. These works are not currently
being seen as necessary and will be determined based on the
balance of the impact of the work against the damage to the
islands environment without the works. At this point in time
it is difficult to envisage any development ever being implemented.