Swona is greatly valued by its past visitors, the local community and the decedents of the former inhabitants; so new visitors are trusted in good faith to benefit from experiencing the island.

In order to maintain that the island can be enjoyed by all for many years to come, we kindly ask that visitors respect these guidelines. Most of the guidelines are just common sense so should be fairly familiar to most folk.

Primary Guidelines

The consequences of injury are greatly increased due to the island's inaccessibility. At present, there are no provisions for assisted mobility such as stiles, ramps or walkways. Individuals are responsible for their own safety.

  • Visitors are reminded that Swona is a private island and need to ask permission before going. This can be obtained by contacting one of the owners or

  • Visitors are respectfully prohibited from entering any buildings, out of courtesy for the former inhabitants and because the buildings are dangerous to enter.

The entering of private buildings is not covered by the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Feel free to peer through any windows or into openings, but please do not take any pictures.

  • Do not approach the wild cattle under any circumstances, they are dangerous, fright easily and have been known to charge when approached.

Additional considerations:

  • take nothing but pictures, leave only footprints :)

  • drones are prohibited (see media section below for further clarification)

  • stay well clear of cliff edges

  • the terrain is rough

  • have a means of communication with you at all times (mobile phone, VHF radio etc.)

  • clarify emergency procedures with your host or charter prior to disembarkation

  • check the weather forecast on the morning of travel and be aware of any changes in conditions during your visit

  • bring additional supplies in case you become stranded, it is entirely possible that this may happen

  • bring a first aid kit

Wildlife and Environmental Considerations

Swona benefits from being recognised as a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protected Area (SPA); qualifying due to an internationally important Arctic tern breeding colony and a number of endangered vascular plants.

It is also home to a herd of wild cattle and numerous colonies of birds.

Please respect the wildlife and the environment above all else.

Photography and Media

Swona is a beautiful island with loads of great photo opportunities for professionals and amateurs alike.

We encourage people to take as many pictures as they want and they are free to share them amongst friends. The strict exception is that no photographs of the internals of buildings, derelict or otherwise, are to be taken.

Any photographs for commercial purposes are forbidden without seeking prior written approval from Swona Heritage.

Drones are prohibited by default as a conservative measure. We understand that they can be used in a sensitive manner but we have seen evidence of drones causing the cattle to stampede out of fear. Historically, stampeding has led to the deaths of a number of Swona cattle. If you wish to use a drone on Swona you must seek guidance and written approval from the SHF. As Swona is a SSSI and a SPA, consent for flying drones is also required from SNH.

Commercial Activities

All agents of commercial activities on Swona must engage with Swona Heritage prior to those activities taking place. Swona Heritage assumes no liability for the operations of any third party commercial activity or injury to members of the public arising from such work.

Website Guidelines

All content is subject to copyright. Reproduction of any material requires the consent of the owner.