Great Bernera.

Start. Breacleit.

Route. Breacleit - Bhalassigh - Poll Ula - Tobson - Beinn an Toib - Carnan Gibegeo - Stiogha Chnap - Bostabh - Loch na Muilne - Loch a' Ghrille - Loch Tana - Breacleit.

Notes. Reaching out into Loch Rog is the island of Great Bernera our destination today. Until the 1950s the residents were cut off from Lewis, cattle had to swim across Struth Iarsiadair at low water, threats were made to dynamite the cliffs on either side of the straights creating their very own causeway, this never happened, in 1953 a 108ft bridge was constructed ending island status forever, well not quite, all you have to do is cross the bridge and you're definitely on an island, a beautiful one at that. The island 's in private hands, owned by Count Robin da la Lanne Mirrlees for the past 49 years. I can't think of anything negative to say what so ever, this place is a real gem, the natives are very friendly too, whilst walking over a short stretch of tarmac in the one and only downpour of the day, a local chap was kind enough to offer us a lift to the end of the road, where else would that happen, definitely not in the Lake District.

To the affairs of the day, this walk took us through a land of ice scarred boulders and tiny lochans, some tidal others fresh water, a coastal walk in the company of the Atlantic wind with the thunder of the rising sea never very far away. Beinn an Toib where the bones of the island poke through a thin layer of peat was the best we could manage for high ground, gifting us with stunning views over countless islands like tiny stepping stones reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, drenched by numerous storms that swept in from the north, drenching Harris and North Lewis leaving us in a bubble of friendly sunshine, we sat and had our lunch on the stunning beach at Bostadh overlooked by the Norse Village before wandering back along a single ribbon of tarmac, almost paradise.

We parked at the Village Hall and Museum, visitors are most welcome, our route followed the tarmac lane west, passing Loch Geal before zigzagging around the top of Loch Barabhat, after a few hundred yards we reached a T-junction, we followed the lane into Bhalasaigh, after passing through the small village the lane ended abruptly at a delightful footbridge spanning Tob Bhalasaigh, we crossed to start a wonderful walk along the coast. Blue topped marker posts guided us north crossing low crags, skirting tiny lochens and tide washed rocky bays, eventually reaching the road at Tobson, believed to be the oldest township on the island. Here we turned right then left at the next junction, after ascending the hill a finger-post invited us to climb Beinn an Toib our high ground for the day. After crossing the summit we descended through a narrow valley in the company of a tumbling burn to reach the lovely beach at Bostadh, most people come here by road to visit the Iron Age Village, more about that later. After a brew it was time to plot our return route, a quick look at the map and it was obvious, return the way we came or follow the single track road, we opted for the road not realizing what a absolute delight the next three miles over tarmac would be.

view route map.


Seen from the road to Bhalasaigh, Loch Geal one of many fresh water lochs on Bernera.

Loch Ionail.

Upper Loch Barabhat looking north.

Seen from near Bhalasaigh Loch Rog.

The end of the road, Sue strides across the footbridge spanning Tob Bhalasaigh.

Looking over the churning waters of Loch Rog with Suaineabhal rising grey to the left.

Wonderful views across the choppy waters of Loch Rog, the stunning beach of Traigh na Beirigh backed by Forsnabhal and Beinn Miabhaig.

A storm passes to the south, one of many today.

Our route skirts this small loch, across the skyline Beinn am Toib.

Views over Camas Sanndaig and Loch Rog.

Looking over Camas Sanndaig to the entrance of Loch Rog, there's an awful lot of islands out there, hard to discern from the mainland, on the horizon Pabaigh Mor and Bhacsaigh are but two.

Approaching Tobson with views across Camas Sanndaig.

Ascending Beinn am Toib the islands in Loch Rog suddenly become apparent, Bhacsaigh, to the right Pabaigh Mor.

Hazy views across Loch Rog, another storm sweeps along the rugged west coast.

Stunning views from near the summit of Beinn an Toib.

Ice scarred rock and grass over a thin layer of peat make progress across the summits of Beinn an Toib and Carnan Gibegeo easy going, the wind may be howling but views like this easily detract from any discomfort.

Crossing this wind swept summit feels like stepping over the bones of the island, a rib cage with a stunning view.

The length of Loch a' Sgail, if I was looking for a wild camp that small spit of land is where my tent would be pitched.

The heart of Lewis may be black (a labyrinth of peat and lochens) but the thin strip of land around the edge where the people live has some beautiful coastal scenery, there are many beaches like this one on Bernera.

The stunning unspoiled beach at Bostadh, for 2000 years successfully hid one of the most complete Iron Aged villages in the British Isles.

Bosta Iron Age House, a replica for the benefit of tourists like us. In 1993 Atlantic gales pounded this small bay shifting tonnes of sand from the beach and surrounding dunes, a network of nine stone buildings all connected by tunnels was unearthed, in archeological terms this was the holy grail, the most complete late Iron Age village ever found in the country, excavations completed it was discreetly buried again and this replica built, £2.50 gets you inside.

Loch na Muilne seen from the tarmac of the single track road we opted to make our return along.

Viewing another Loch Geal, just over the pass the short descent back to Breacleit and the other Loch Geal.

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