Tanera Mòr

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Tanera Mòr
Gaelic: Tannara Mòr

Summer Isles

Rubh' Ard-na-goine, Tanera Mòr.jpg
Looking north from Rubh' Ard-na-goine
Location: 58°-0’36"N, 5°25’12"W
Grid reference: NB992067
Area: 766.0 acres
Highest point: Meall Mòr, 407 feet
Population: 5

Tanera Mòr is an inhabited island in Loch Broom in the Inner Hebrides. It is the largest of the Summer Isles, which are part of Cromartyshire, and the only inhabited island in that group. Tanera Mòr is notable for issuing its own postage stamps and as the location for Frank Fraser Darling's book Island Years.

The island’s name is believed to derive from Old Norse, meaning “Harbour Island".


Tanera Mòr is around 766 acres and reaches a height of 407 feet. The highest hill is Meall Mòr (a very common Scottish mountain name, meaning a rounded hill).

The rock is Torridonian sandstone covered with peat and pasture.

The post office and café


The island was a port for herring fishing, and suffered the decline of said industry. The two settlements were known as Ardnagoine and Garadheancal.

In 1881, there were no fewer than 118 people living on Tanera Mòr, all of whom had left in 1931 (one year after St Kilda was abandoned). Permanent habitation has been intermittent since then, with six people identified as resident in 1961, eight in 1981, none in 1991 and then five at the 2001 census.[1] Many of the old cottages have been renovated, and are now used as holiday accommodation.

In September 2012, it was revealed that the island's owners Lizzie and Richard Williams were considering a community buyout with residents on the mainland nearby. In the event that this option is not progressed, the owners plan to sell on the open market, most likely in the spring of 2013.[2]

Facilities and infrastructure

Tanera Mòr is home to a salmon fish farm, several holiday cottages, a small sailing school, a café and a post office, which has operated its own local post and printed its own stamps since 1970. The island has no roads and the only recognisable path goes around An Acarsaid ("The Anchorage"), the sheltered bay on the east side of the island. Tanera Mòr, like the other Summer Isles, can be seen from the Stornoway to Ullapool ferry. The island can be reached by boat from either Achiltibuie in Wester Ross, or Ullapool.

Tanera Mòr in literature and culture

Frank Fraser Darling

Island Years by Frank Fraser Darling, published in 1940, describes the author’s experiences living on a remote island. Living on Tanera Mòr and ta Dundonnell before that, Fraser Darling began the work that was to mark him as a naturalist-philosopher of original turn of mind and great intellectual drive.

Fraser Darling described the social and breeding behaviour of the red deer, gulls, and the grey seal respectively, in the three academic works A Herd of Red Deer, Bird Flocks and the Breeding Cycle and A Naturalist on Rona. The outbreak of Second World War put an end to Fraser Darling's hopes of undertaking further research on the grey seal, and being too old for active military service, he chose to farm rather than leave the west coast of Scotland for wartime civilian work.

Between 1939 and 1943 Fraser Darling reclaimed derelict land to agricultural production on Tanera Mòr, an undertaking described in his 1943 book Island Farm.

In 1942 the wartime Secretary of State for Scotland, Tom Johnston, asked Fraser Darling if he would run an agricultural advisory programme in the crofting areas of the Highlands and Islands. He agreed, and for two years he travelled, taught and wrote articles that were later published in book form as Crofting Agriculture.


The pagan-cult island of Summerisle featured in the 1973 film The Wicker Man is thought by some film critics to be set in this archipelago. The name of the film may be borrowed from here, but it was filmed in Wigtownshire and on Skye.

The Summer Isles feature in a novella of the same name by Ian R MacLeod.


The island's floral diversity is strong due to the lack of grazing over the last 25 years, with northern marsh orchids and butterfly orchids particularly strong. Otters are active, common and grey seals frequently visit from the other nearby Summer Isles, and basking sharks and porpoises pass by in summer. Bird species include eider, heron, red grouse and buzzards [3]

Outside links


  1. Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543. 
  2. "Community ownership mooted for Tanera Mor in Wester Ross" BBC News. Retrieved 29 Sept 2012.
  3. ‘’Scottish Places’’ - Overview of Tanera Mor
  • Fraser Darling, Frank (1940) Island Years. G. Bell and Sons.
  • Keay, J. & Keay, J. (1994) Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland. London. HarperCollins. (Entry: Summer Isles)
The Summer Isles, Cromartyshire

Bottle Island  • Eilean Dubh  • Horse Island  • Isle Martin  • Priest Island  • Isle Ristol  • Tanera Beag  • Tanera Mòr