A perfect island adventure
Eilean Shona is a car-free wilderness haven, nestled in a loch on the dramatic west coast of Scotland. Days are filled with cooking and drinking around campfires, wild swimming, reading, hiking, picnicking, kayaking, nature watching, and wandering the woods and beaches. Eilean Shona House, with its comfortable, quirky design, is ideal for family gatherings and special celebrations. Our cottages are perfect for romantic breaks or family adventures and have been rated some of Britain’s Top Holiday Cottages by the UK’s leading travel writers.
For the past three decades the Branson/Devereux clan have had the honour of being custodians of Eilean Shona; it has been both a mighty challenge and a wonderful adventure. Creating a luxurious retreat alongside a respect for the pristine natural environment has been our goal. We look forward to welcoming you to share in the island and all the magical experiences that await.
“Heaven on Earth
This is the kind of magic one longs for, looks for & seldom finds”
Conde Nast Traveller
“A story-book island of simple, timeless pleasure and happy endings”
“Eilean Shona exudes an air of ageless fantasy”
Tim Moore, FT
“A wild, rocky, romantic island it is too. It almost taketh the breath away”
Eilean Shona has a very diverse flora and fauna due to its varied topography and the wide variety of habitats on the island.
Among the stunning wildlife you will encounter are red deer, red squirrels, pine martens, otters, common & grey seals, white-tailed eagles, golden eagles, buzzards, hooded crows, grey herons, curlew, oystercatcher, red breasted mergansers, herring gulls and tawny owls.
Smaller species of birds include robin, wren, blackbird, song thrush, great spotted woodpecker, cuckoo, chaffinch, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, siskin, willow warbler, whitethroat, wheatear, tree pipit and meadow pipit.
Butterfly species include peacock, green-veined white, speckled wood, painted lady, red admiral and Scotch Argus.
Dolphins, minke whales and basking sharks can all be seen in surrounding waters.
Eilean Shona successfully combines comfortable living with a respect for the environment. We make every effort to be plastic-free and carbon neutral on the island with no cars, plentiful wood supply and all our electricity coming from the hydro-electric power station. Our water supply comes from the hills and we are meticulous with our recycling and use only bio-cleaning products.
We see our role as custodians of the island, protecting it for future generations. In 2011, we fenced in a 600-acre deer-free zone to allow for maximum regeneration while also planting 120,000 new trees. One ongoing challenge is to keep the invasive rhododendrons at bay thus allowing native trees, moss, lichen and wildflowers to thrive and creating a rich biodiverse environment. All profits raised from cottage and house rentals are reinvested into Shona's continuing conservation projects.
Until the middle of the 18th century, Eilean Shona was populated with a number of crofters. The main house was a small hunting lodge owned, in the middle of the 19th century, by the seafaring Captain Swinburne. He collected numerous types of pine on his travels and established what became one of the most diverse Pinetums in Europe. At the end of the 19th century, Robert Lorimer, who planned much of Edinburgh's New Town, was commissioned by the island's owner, a Mr. Thompson, to remodel the main house, doubling its size.
In the 1920s J.M. Barrie rented Eilean Shona for the summer as a holiday home, where he was joined by Michael Llewelyn Davies and some friends. It was Michael, along with his four brothers, who had been the inspiration for J.M. Barrie's characters Peter Pan, the Darling brothers and the Lost Boys. Barrie is thought to have worked on both the screenplay of Peter Pan and the ghost story, Mary Rose, while on Eilean Shona.
"A wild rocky romantic island it is too", he wrote enthusiastically to Cynthia Asquith on August 13th, "it almost taketh the breath away to find so perfectly appointed a retreat on these wild shores…. Superb as is the scene from the door, Michael, who has already been to the top of things, says it's nought to what is revealed there – all the western isles of Scotland lying at our feet. A good spying-ground for discovering what really became of Mary Rose."
In the 1930s Eilean Shona was given to Lady Howard De Walden as a wedding present by her future husband. During this period numerous improvements to the island, particularly to the grounds and gardens, were made by the De Walden family.
Since then, the island has been owned by three families and has belonged to Devereux-Branson family since 1995.