Carnan Mor the summit of Ben Hynish.

Start. Balemartine.

Route. Balemartine - Mannal - Hynish - Hynish Farm - Cleit Mhor - Happy Valley - Ben Hynish - Carnan Mor - West Hynish - Dun Shiadet - Cleit Mhor - Hynish Farm - Hynish - Mannal - Balemartine.

Notes. It was time to take a peek at what looked like the most interesting of structures, perched proud on Carnan Mor the highest ground on the whole of the island. Affectionately known by the locals as the Golf Ball, it's actually a radar station scanning the skies two hundred miles into the Atlantic. As it turned out, far more interesting was the small village of Hynish, an odd mix of buildings baring no resemblance to any other structures on Tiree.

For the purpose of this walk we set out from our holiday accommodation at Balemartine, you dear reader should start at Hynish, the strange place at the end of the road. From our front door overlooking a stunning beach and turquoise ocean we wandered down the single ribbon of tarmac that terminated at Hynish, the views on the walk in were stunning I'm afraid you'll have to watch the road. Hynish welcomed us with an old smithy and workshop, a harbour, dry dock and pier, also on site a walled garden, coal store, quarry, signal tower and lighthouse keepers cottages built in the Egyptian style, fashionable in 1883 when Alan Stevenson chose this place as a base for the building of the Skerryvore Lighthouse, twelve miles to the south-west of the island.

Our brief exploration over we wandered up the lane, passed Hynish Farm before traversing a number of small fields (crofts) to reach the coast. The scenery is quite jaw-dropping along this stretch of coast, local wildlife objected to us wandering near their nesting grounds, lots of noise before a wild aerial display followed by close passes over our heads. We wandered on to safer ground before reaching Happy Valley, a local name for a green valley leading down to a small beach, the origin of the name seems to have evaporated in the mists of time.

From the head of the valley we left the path, ascending north over close cropped grass, the green carpet soon gave way to rough moorland, we wound our way through ancient crofts the remains of low enclosures still visible covered in a generous coating of moss and lichens, we negotiated boggy ground the best we could, the final pull to the summit saw us wandering over the surface of the radar station access road, the trig point was just to the west of the perimeter fence, we made ourselves comfy, brewed up and drank in staggering views.

Dune backed Traigh Bhi looked absolutely stunning bordering Balebhuil Bay with Ceann a' Mhara the high ground to the west, the rest of the island rolled away to the north, tiny white buildings, a jig-saw of well proportioned crofts melting into the horizon. Brew and snack over we descended the access lane, at West Hynish we turned left, the tarmac lane terminated at a quarry, we passed through a gate to join faint coastal paths and the odd sheep track for the next few jaw-dropping miles. On reaching Happy Valley we again ran the gauntlet of an avian onslaught before reaching the safety of Hynish Farm, from the farm it was a short walk back to Hynish before the narrow grey ribbon guided us back to our starting point.

view route map.


This is the view that welcomed us when we drew back the blinds this morning, our own little slice of Tiree, look to the horizon the two staggering beaches are Traigh Shorobaidh and to the right Traigh Bhagh.

Guided by this narrow ribbon of the grey stuff we made our way to Hynish, a strange mix and match as you can see.

From the pier at Hynish a wonderful view along the coast, to the left the Harbour Dry Dock, the green doors belong to the smithy and workshops now a museum.

The pier and harbour at Hynish were built to enable the transportation of building material for Skerryvore Lighthouse. It was also from Hynish Harbour in the 1840s and 1850s that emigrants set sail for a new life in Canada after the division of the crofts and the potato famine.

This signal tower was built in 1843 to provide semaphore communication with Skerryvore Lighthouse. Semaphore is a system of sending visual messages using hand-held flags, discs or paddles. Before radio, the signal tower was the only way of communicating between the lighthouse and the shore station. This was often very difficult due to bad weather and low visibility. The signalman would spend two hours a day in the observation room at the top of the tower hoping to catch a glimpse of signals from the lighthouse through a telescope. A signal would be acknowledged by hoisting a ball to the top of the flagstaff on the roof of the tower. If a keeper was on duty when his wife gave birth, the sex of the new baby would be communicated by using a dress or a pair of trousers on the signal tower flagstaff. The tower was in use from 1844 until 1937.

Happy Valley.

Our ascent of Ben Hynish passed these old boundary walls and field systems, I don't think I'd be far wrong to say they date back to the 1840s when the first islanders left for Canada, and hopefully a better life.

Staggering views from the slopes of Ben Hynish, the white-washed houses of the strung out communities of Balemartine and Mannel.

The Golf Ball a radar station scanning the horizon for over two hundred miles.

Sitting drinking in wonderful views across the island, the high ground is Beinn Hough scaled earlier.

Stunning views over West Hynish, Balephuil Bay, Traigh Bhi and the headland of Ceann a' Mhara.

Ceann a' Mhara seen from our descent of the access road.

The wonderful west coast of Tiree.

On the lower slopes of Ben Hynish soaking up this stunning panorama over Hynish Farm, on the horizon just visible the Isle of Mull and the Small Isles.

Near Hynish Farm running the gauntlet of local bird life, I'm afraid they were too fast to photograph.

Back at Hynish, the lighthouse keepers cottages.

Looking back to Hynish Pier and Am Barradhu.

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