island of shuna holiday lets, Scotland

 Shuna Wildlife & History

Otters resident around and on the Island 

For those with an interest in the natural world, a holiday on Shuna offers great opportunities to view some of our most spectacular wildlife at close quarters. Almost uniquely for the west coast of Scotland, the island is very heavily wooded - approximately 40% is native scrub birch and oak - there are no artificial conifer plantations. The highest point is around 300 feet above sea level, and the shores are a mixture of sheltered bays with small beaches and rocky slopes. People have lived on Shuna for at least 4,500 years - there are both Stone and Iron Age burial mounds along with ruined farms and houses - between 1750 and 1850 it is thought that there was a fairly stable population of around eighty. The main economic activity on the island at this time was the production of lime from the natural stone here - old limekilns are dotted all over the island.

lime kilns, Shuna's main historic economy


Shuna Castle was built as recently as 1911 for a rumoured cost of £300,000 - a colossal sum at the time. It fell into disrepair in the 1980s - the cost of maintenance had become simply too great - particularly given that it was built with a flat roof! The island has been privately owned by the Gully family since 1946, and the family remain committed to the island and to preserving its unique heritage and long term viability. The island itself has healthy populations of Red, Roe and Fallow deer, along with Otters and Common and Grey Seals. Otters and Seals can usually be easily seen around the island, even at the Pier - the Otters in particular seem to like it there. Whilst out on the water both Porpoises and Dolphins are regularly seen.

Shuna's post Victorian castle


Obviously all the usual seabird species are found around the Shuna coastline, along with Buzzards, Woodcock, Golden Eagle, Raven, Snipe and even a Nightjar has been seen (at night!) Because the island is so sparsely populated by people, all our woodland and wildlife is undisturbed and exciting to explore. The unspoilt natural habitat gives Shuna a unique diversity of plant, bird and animal life. Much of the woodland is also fenced off from livestock, so is completely natural and un-grazed. Our deer populations are sensibly managed to ensure maximum bio-diversity and maintain long-term habitats for all island wildlife.




 "This place is just the best place for a great holiday! We have been three years in a row and will be back next year. Peace quiet rest and a fantastic pace of life." 

Yvonne Birks 

"Hi, yes it was absolutely stunning, enjoyed every moment! back now to normal life!!"

Lorraine Cruse



Paddling stealthily  

through silk seas 

we hold our breath 

as the otter surfaces. 


His log body floats across the waves 

head raised 

then with a flick  

he is gone 

long tail sliding into darker depths. 


Up again 

like a champagne cork 

bobbing and chomping 

on a luckless fish. 

We hear bones crunching. 


There’s snow in the air 

and the ridges are dusted 

like Christmas Stollen. 


A cloud the size of Scotland 

presses down on the heron’s languid flight 

and a rubber-headed seal 

pounces on a bouy 

a toy to play with in its loch-sized bath. 


Then hail hits the waves 

A pounding of diamonds 

Beautiful and sharp. 


Mica Schist captures the brilliance 

In its ripples 

Nature’s mirror ball 

Reflecting the rainbow’s fraying end. 


We float home 

with eiders whistling in our ears 

the urgent flock of redwings 

in the twinkling of our eyes 


our heads ablaze  

with birds and beasts and light. 


© Sally Brown