Loch Airigh - Losgaintir Sands via the Bealach Eor

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If you have always longed to try Wainwright's 'Coast to Coast', but never quite had the time or the energy, then this is the walk for you! A 'Coast to Coast' in miniature, it takes you from the rocky bays on the eastern coast of the Hebridean Isle of Harris, to its sandy western fringe, via the Bealach Eorabhat; a walk of real contrasts!

Indeed, this difference between the two coasts is the reason for the existence of the Bealach, or 'Coffin / Corpse Road'. The difficulty in digging a hole large enough to contain a coffin in the thin covering of soil on the east, meant that the coffin bearers had to trudge across the moorland to the deeper soils of the west, a distance of some four miles. You will be following the route which they took.

The first part of the walk, as you descend to sea level or just about, gives you a good idea of the barreness of this landscape – more like a 'moonscape' than a landscape, perhaps. This is why some of the filming for '2001 Space Odyssey', scenes representing the Planet Jupiter, took place here. You will be aware of the intermingling of land and water, loch and hill, which is so much a part of the history of this part of the island, where fishing, supplemented by what could be grown upon small rocky areas of croft land, was the mainstay of life for many centuries.

Beyond Waymark 4 you begin to ascend towards the col. It's a steady enough climb, not over-taxing, but slow-going because of the bogginess of the ground as you reach the flatter land near the top of the pass. Here, deep purple clumps of heather are interspersed with quivering cotton grass, but you won't have too much energy left to appreciate that as you hop from clump to boulder to occasional reappearance of grassy path, in an effort to avoid the wet patches. Wear boots and don't expect to come home with dry feet if it's been raining much!

As you tip over the last hump, you will be rewarded with a spectacular and unexpected view of Losgaintir Sands stretching away to the horizon, bordered by the thin sapphire line of the sea in the distance. It's a veritable banquet of colour! If, however, a more down-to-earth sort of banquet is what you're longing for after your exertions, some imaginatively placed seats invite you to stop and have your lunch as you drink in the vista!

From here it's an easy yomp downhill on an increasingly broad track, past a loch and finally to meet the 'old' A859 road at Waymark 6. Below you, almost on a level with the sea, is the new A859, perched at this point on a causeway. It is considerably more suited to carrying traffic, but continuing along the old road, where dragonflies hover among wayside flowers, one can't help feeling that this road is more interesting and enjoyable. Turning left when you reach the A859 gives you the option to visit the sands of Losgaintir and Seilboist.

You have a choice of return route. The 'on foot' option is straightforward, continuing intermittently to use the 'old' road. The alternative involves a short bus ride.

Scotland - Highlands and Islands - Outer Hebrides - Isle of Lewis

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, Moor, Public Transport, Sea, Wildlife