Start. Community Hall, Borve.

Route. Community Hall - Beinn a' Chiaidh - Rubha an Aoil - Harbour - Post Office - Knock Torla - East Beach - Burial Ground - Beinn Shleibhe - West Beach - Rubha a' Chorrain - Grid NF 900 820 - Community Hall.

Notes. The island of Berneray is just off the north coast of North Uist, it's reached by a causeway opened by Prince Charles in 1999. Although small Berneray gifts the lucky rambler with some stunning walking, as this circuit proves. Staggering views from an eight foot high standing stone, mouth-watering vistas from the trig point on the islands highest hill, lovely walking through fertile flower rich machair and a hefty slice of paradise in the form of two beautiful dune backed beaches. As coastal walking is my forte, I was in heaven.

The Community Hall is at the centre of the island, is easily found at Borve (Borgh), we left the car park immediately crossing a cattle grid, then turned left leaving the narrow lane. Pathless walking followed, initially we aimed for a bridge over a burn then the corner of some enclosed ground marking the boundary of the field, from here grey marker posts guided us up and over Beinn a’ Chlaidh, a low hill topped with a standing stone. Cladh Maolrithe a large monolith with eight feet showing above ground and another eight below, from the top of this easy to climb hill there are stunning views towards the islands beaches.

From the summit grey marker posts guided us down to the islands east coast, we stepped onto a single track tarmac road then turned north. With tarmac to guide us we walked along the coast, above the islands harbour where catches of shellfish and lobster are landed, eventually we passed the islands hostel, two whitewashed thatched cottages set well back from the road on the edge of the East Beach. Over the next rise we arrived at said beach, beautiful one of two on this ramble.

Backed by dunes with impressive views to mountainous Harris this was a wonderful arch a white sand, we wandered along the edge where sand meets sea, wavelets kissing our boots. Around half way along we left the beach, crossed the machair to access the lane leading to Sandhill Farm, greeting us at the entrance to the lane a gate and finger-post inviting us to walk the Berneray Circular Walk. We passed through said gate before ascending diagonally up the field, passed a ruin then on to a small burial ground, from the cemetery a way marked path ushered us to the summit of Beinn Shleibhe.

This is the highest ground on Berneray, the views are staggering, absolutely breath-tacking, but things were about to get even better. After spending sometime on the summit we descended to the west, a faint path guided us to a breach in the high dunes, a portal to the West Beach. we passed through then stood speechless (Sue doesn't do speechless, but on this occasion she made an exception). One of the finest beaches in the Hebrides, around three miles long with perfect shell sand backed by high dunes, turquoise sea and views to the small island of Pabbay. It is so beautiful the Thai tourist board used a picture of the beach to promote holidays in Thailand.

It may not be Thailand, maybe not as warm but off came the shoes and socks, we walked the next two miles in bare feet kicking our way along the edge of the whispering Atlantic. After rounding Rubha a’ Chorrain we realised we had this stunning strand to ourselves, we also realised before reaching the far end we had to find a way off it. So reluctantly at grid 900 820 we climbed the dunes, traversed the machair heading straight for the red roofed Community Hall, passed through a field gate then a smaller one allowing access to a fenced field, the fence line ushered us through flower rich machair back to the Community Hall.

view route map.


No path required, we start today breaking trail through flower rich machair.

About to ascend Beinn a' Chlaidh looking back to the Community Hall backed by the dark hills of Harris.

Near the summit of Beinn a' Chlaidh viewing the sandy basin of Loch Bhuirgh with the hills of North Uist across the horizon.

Marking the summit of this low hill Cladh Maolrithe an eight foot tall standing stone.

Cotton Grass sways in the wind, proof if proof were needed we were about to cross boggy ground, the view, Roineabhal across Loch a' Bhaigh and the Sound of Harris.

Seals bask on the rocks in Loch a' Bhaigh.

Loch a' Bhaigh on view from near the islands Post Office.

Our route followed the road passed this beach but who could resist a stroll over this gorgeous strand, not us.

The East Beach with views to the distant hills above Lochmaddy.

Ruin near Sandhill Farm with views to Beinn Shleibhe.

History carved in stone, the burial ground passed on the ascent.

Stunning views from the summit of Beinn Shleibhe, Loch Bhrusda with Cnoc Bhuirgh to the left.

From the summit views across the Sound of Harris to Roineabhal.

Mountainous Harris as seen from the summit of Beinn Shleibhe.

A few of the many skerries in the Sound of Harris, fading into a blue/grey horizon the Isle of Skye.

Sue descends a lovely green trod with the island of Pabbay on the skyline.

A breach in the high dunes, step through this portal and you enter....

....paradise on the West Coast of Berneray.

From the north end of the West Beach views to a rain washed Harris.

Let the tide line guide your eye to the mountains of Harris.

Wandering along the tide line of the whispering ocean.

It gets better, at this point we realised we were the only people on the beach.

Rounding Rubha a' Chorrain with Pabbay to the left and rain soaked Harris across the horizon.

Traversing the machair viewing the hills of North Uist, Crogarraidh Mor and Crogarraidh Beag.

The Community Halls behind me, following the fence line back, but first a final look across the machair of Maol Bhan to the vast dunes backing the West Beach.

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