NEW EDITION APRIL 2018
Walks Western Isles – Author: Luke Williams
Rewalked 2017 by Richard Hallewell and Becky & Rob Coope
It is always a pleasure to visit the Western Isles – or it is when the weather is fine. We got lucky, and last September provided a particularly pleasant spell for the rewalk of the guide.
For those who haven’t been there, the Western Isles (or ‘Outer Hebrides’ – you will see either on maps) is a wonderful place for walkers. It is a big area with a small population and a wide range of landscapes, from the wide heather moors of Lewis and the rocky hill country of Harris to the sand dunes and machair of the west side of North and South Uist. You won’t see many trees, but the roads are quiet and the sand beaches are vast and empty. Once you are off the roads and peat tracks the paths can be rough to non-existent, so you will need to be prepared for some navigation on the longer walks, but there is something for every level of ability. Particular attractions include the standing stones at Callanish, the walk out to the tidal island of Vallay and the old road from Urgha to Reinigeadal, but the main reason for visiting is the magnificent scenery.
The routes had changed a bit since our last visit, so most of the walks have been updated to some degree. In particular, the long coastal walk, up the west side of Lewis, has been shortened; and the new path into Eilean Glas lighthouse (see bottom left), on Scalpay, has been added, to make a circuit. In addition, we have added one new route: the popular walk up Glen Meavaig (in Harris) to the eagle observatory. One other major change since our last visit was the creation of the Hebridean Way: a 156 mile/252km long distance path from Vatersay to Lewis which follows paths and stretches of public road. We don’t cover it in the book, but a number of the routes we feature use the same paths, so you will come across signposts as you are travelling around.
Anyone serious about their walking should visit the Western Isles at least once. It is a unique walking environment within the UK.
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