Howmore is a stunning place, an unexpected little gem just to the west of the main road that runs the length of South Uist. You'll find it as the Gaelic "Tobha Mor" on Ordnance Survey maps: but it's the anglicised version by which Howmore is still more widely known.
The village has several claims to fame. Most obvious as you approach is that it is home to one of Scotland's best collections of thatched buildings. The effect is striking and extremely attractive. And because of Howmore's remote location, you have every chance of having the village to yourself, even in Summer. There are few places where it's so easy to believe you have been transported back in time.
Howmore is also home to a crofters hostel. This is operated by Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust and adopted by the SYHA. It is located in a white-painted thatched building of remarkable charm: and with stunning views to the east towards the peak of Hecla, rising to 1,988ft or 606m.
But the village is perhaps best known for its remarkable collection of ruined churches and chapels. These are found close to the hostel, to the north of the road into the village. What you see today are the remains of a church and four chapels. The most striking remains are of the Teampull Mor, the "Large Church" or St Mary's, of which only part of the east gable remains. This church probably dates back to the 1200s and it was used as the parish church.
At the time of the Reformation, Howmore turned to Protestantism, though 95% of the population of South Uist remained Roman Catholic. Howmore Church, built in 1858, is therefore rather unusual; doubly so as it is one of the few churches in Scotland with a central Communion table. The church is white-harled and used as a landmark by fishermen off the west coast.
To the west of Howmore Church a network of tracks runs to and behind the dune-backed beach that lines much of South Uist's west coast. Most people will park their cars in the church car park and walk to the beach: it's less than half a mile each way. At the landward end of Howmore, where the minor road through the village meets the A865, is a cycle hire, sales and repair business; while those interested in historical vehicles should keep a look out in the bus depot half a mile to the south, where a pair of classic MacBraynes buses are maintained.
Further afield, the ruins of Ormaclait Castle lie three miles south of Howmore. This castle was in use for just seven years, between its completion in 1708 and a serious fire in 1715.
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