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View from the summit of Scarba

Gaelic: Sgarba

Norse name: Skarpoe

Meaning of name: Old Norse for "sharp, stony, hilly terrain"

Area and summit:

Area: 1,474 hectares (5.7 sq mi)

Highest elevation: Cruach Scarba 449 metres (1,473 ft)

Scarba (Scottish Gaelic: Sgarba) is a small island, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, just north of the much larger island of Jura. The island was owned by Richard Hill, 7th Baron Sandys and has not been permanently inhabited since the 1960s.<ref> Haswell-Smith (2004) 60</ref>

It is now covered in heather and used for grazing animals. Kilmory Lodge is used seasonally as a shooting lodge, the island having a flourishing herd of red deer.

The island's name is from the Norse and may mean "sharp, stony, hilly terrain" or "cormorant island".<ref>Mac an Tàilleir (2003) 104</ref>


Scarba is not served by any public ferries, but access from Craobh Haven or Crinan Harbour is possible by arrangement with local boatmen. The rough summit ridge can be accessed from the harbour at the north end, from where a vehicle track leads up past Kilmory Lodge to a height of about 200 metres. After that, there are no paths or well defined routes, and the terrain becomes rough and boggy. The island rises steeply to a peak (Cruach Scarba) of 449 metres (1,473 ft). Although there are no technical difficulties, the summits are often shrouded in mist, through which navigation skill may be required. A cylindrical triangulation point marks the highest of several summits, which are surrounded by several small lochs.


Between Scarba and Jura lies the Gulf of Corryvreckan, known for its whirlpool. Writing in 1549, Dean Monro wrote of "Skarbay" that between it and "Duray":

Ther runnes ane streame, above the power of all sailing and rowing, with infinit dangers, callit Corybrekan. This stream is aught myle lang, quhilk may not be hantit bot be certain tyds. This Skarbay is four myles lange from the west to the eist, and an myle breadth, ane high rough yle, inhabit and manurit, with some woods in it.<ref>Monro (1594) "Skarbay" No. 16</ref>

Scarba and a few nearby islets (Lunga and the Garvellachs) are collectively the Scarba, Lunga and the Garvellachs National Scenic Area.