Around the Butt of Lewis.

Start. Butt of Lewis Lighthouse.

Route. Butt of Lewis - Sinntean - Canndal - Listean - Traigh Shanndaigh - Dunes Park - Europaidh - Teampall Mholuaidh - Butt of Lewis.

Notes. Wednesday we awoke to an eerie silence, the wind that had been buffeting the island since our arrival had dropped, we could here the sound of seabirds far away on the coast, a tractor on a croft nearer to home, and the pitter patter of rain on the windows. Scudding cloud had been swept over the horizon, replaced by grey emulsion, today was wet very wet. Locals in the pub recommended walking the Butt only on calm sunny days, today was calm at least, as it may be our only chance we grasped it with both hands, with a bag full of waterproofs, and car boot full of dry clothes we headed to the northern most tip of the island.

Laying in the North Atlantic the Butt of Lewis is frequently battered by heavy swells and storms, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the windiest place in the UK, with nothing to the west until North America, and to the north open Ocean as far as the Arctic, it's easy to see why. Eighty foot cliffs guard the headland an ideal place to build a lighthouse. Designed and built by David and Thomas Stephenson this red-brick lighthouse stands 121ft high, built between 1859-1862 it made an ideal starting point for today's damp excursion.

We parked next to the lighthouse high above the Atlantic swells, donned our waterproofs, laced our boots, then headed west through persistent rain. Our route was simple, just follow the coast not forgetting to look back occasionally to admire the stunning coastal scenery. Through worsening weather we eventually reached Traigh Shanndaigh a beautiful ark of golden sand backed by dunes, even on a wet day this beach looked inviting. If the weather had been better we would have wandered further down the coast, instead we turned inland, following the footpath past Dunes Park we soon reached Europaidh, crossing the B8013 opposite a Tea Shop, it was Wednesday afternoon, it was closed, wet and rather bedraggled we wandered on to reach the shelter of Teampall Mholuaidh, a tiny restored church sitting behind the croft houses amidst the long narrow fields.

Our planned route from the church included a stretch of road walking to reach An Cnoc Ard, where we intended to access the coast for our return journey, initially we set out along the B8014, seeing the road vanishing over the hill we waved the white flag, the weather gods had beat us into submission, a quick look at the map saw us heading between long narrow croft's over the single stretch of tarmac that lead back to the Butt of Lewis.

view route map.


The red-brick Butt of Lewis Lighthouse an important beacon for shipping since its construction in 1862.

Even on a wet day the coastal scenery at the Butt of Lewis is stunning.

Dramatic rock scenery and churning seas with nothing over the horizon until the Arctic.

Looking back to the lighthouse.

Looking to Luchruban or Pigmy's Isle, once thought to have be inhabited by Pigmy people, small bones found on the island were that of birds and mammals the leftovers from meals consumed by early Christians who occupied a small stone cell on the summit, the remains of which can still be seen and accessed at low water.

The rugged cliffs along the north coast of Lewis.

Sue soaks up the views.

Taking in the view across Cunndal, backed by a sea of dunes, Traigh Shanndaigh.

The rising tide at Canndal.

Looking across the ragged joint between, rock, sea and sky.

With wonderful beaches and spectacular rock scenery even the pouring rain can't detract from the beauty of this stretch of coast.

Atlantic breakers sweep in over Traigh Shanndaigh.

Boiling water and riven cliffs seen from near Listean.

As I crested this small rise on the edge of Traigh Shanndaigh I was forced to squint, the white water being unbelievably bright against the dark of the land and sky.

Changing seascapes, from the black shattered cliffs of the Butt of Lewis to the golden sands of Traigh Shanndaigh.

Even on a grey day this is a magical view, south along the North Lewis coast at high tide.

The bad weather's forced us to turn our backs on the coast, there's a few miles of good walking on the other side of the beach, or so the guide book tells us.

Hidden behind the croft houses, shielded by dry stone walls Teampall Mholuaidh (St Molveg's Church), obviously when land was appointed for crofting it didn't pay to be to liberal with land around the church.

This tiny church is still used for services when the weather isn't too cold, constructed sometime between the 12th and 14th centuries, thought to have been one of the three main centres for Christianity in the Outer Hebrides, extensively restored in the 20th century it's a beautiful place, a haven for weary wet pilgrims.

Squelching our way between the narrow fields with tarmac (and water) under foot, heading back to the Butt of Lewis.

The Butt of Lewis Lighthouse fully automated in 1998, now acts as a monitoring station for the lights on North Rona and Sula Sgeir, there's a little slice of useless information now lets get out of the rain.

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