Canna, Scotland

Canna (Scottish Gaelic: Canaigh; Eilean Chanaigh; Scots: Canna) is the westernmost of the Small Isles archipelago, in the ScottishInner Hebrides. It is linked to the neighbouring island of Sanday by a road and sandbanks at low tide. The island is 4.3 miles (6.9 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. The isolated skerries of Hyskeir and Humla lie 6.2 miles (10.0 km) south-west of the island.[5]

Not to be confused with Càrna.

Scottish Gaelic name Canaigh, Eilean Chanaigh
Pronunciation [ˈkʰanaj] (listen),
[ˈelan ˈxanaj] (listen)
Scots name Canna[1]
Old Norse name Possibly Kne-oy
Meaning of name Irish for ‘wolf whelp island’ or Scottish Gaelic for ‘porpoise island’. Possibly Norse for ‘knee-shaped island’

Canna shown within Lochaber
OS grid reference NG244058

57.06°N 6.55°W / 57.06; -6.55

Physical geography
Island group Small Isles
Area 1,130 hectares (4.4 sq mi)
Area rank 46[2]
Highest elevation Càrn a’ Ghaill 210 metres (689 ft)
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Highland
Population 15[3](October 2021)
Population rank 67[2]
Population density 1 person/km2[4][5]
References [5][6]
Canna Lighthouse

Isle of Canna Small automatic lighthouse on the eastern tip of Sanday
Location Isle of Sanday
United Kingdom
Coordinates 57.0471°N 6.4659°W / 57.0471; -6.4659
Constructed 1907
Construction metal tower
Height 9 metres (30 ft)
Shape cylindrical tower with balcony and lantern
Markings white tower and lantern
Power source solar power 
Operator Northern Lighthouse Board[7]
Focal height 32 metres (105 ft)
Range 9 nmi (17 km; 10 mi) 
Characteristic Fl W 6s. Fl W 10s 

The islands were left to the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) by their previous owners, the Gaelic folklorists and scholars John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Fay Shaw in 1981, and are run as a farm and conservation area. Canna House, one of two big houses on the island (the other being Tighard), contains John Campbell’s important archives of Gaelic materials that were donated with the islands to the nation.[5] Since then the NTS has engaged in new initiatives to attract new residents and visitors to Canna. However, these initiatives have enjoyed only limited success (see ‘Call for families for Canna’ below), and in December 2017 it was announced that the NTS would be devolving to the island community the responsibility for attracting and retaining new residents on the island.[8]

. . . Canna, Scotland . . .

There are some 20 buildings on Canna and Sanday, including three churches, one of which has been deconsecrated (see below). There is also a post office which was converted from a garden shed. The Canna tea room, which closed in 2008, reopened in 2010 as the Gille Brighde Cafe and Restaurant. This restaurant closed in 2013[9] but has since re-opened again as Cafe Canna.[10] A new resident manager for the island was appointed in 2010.[11] The island is isolated and in the past inhabitants have had to buy all their provisions from the mainland, but it now has a small unstaffed shop operated on an ‘honesty’ basis.[12] There is a telephone link, a red telephone box and broadband internet access, although there is no mobile phone coverage. Electricity is provided by a diesel generator, at mainland voltage and frequency, and there is a private water supply.[13][14] In 2010 a proposal to establish a fish farm off Canna was defeated in a residents’ ballot, even though it would have created a number of new jobs.[15]

The island has a very low crime rate, but a mainland-based police officer visits the island twice a year, mainly to inspect gun licences. A doctor based on the neighbouring island of Skye is available for house calls once a month. The roads on Canna are not metalled and are privately owned; local vehicles therefore do not require road tax. The previous footbridge to Sanday was destroyed by storms during 2005, and has recently been replaced by a road bridge. This allows vehicular access at all tide levels for the first time, although the road on Sanday is still covered by high tides.[13][14] However, in 2017 an appeal was launched to raise funds for the reconstruction of the road on Sanday so that it is also available at high tide.[16]

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