Hebridean wonders: exploring new places close to home


Life-long islander Eilidh Carr uses Slow Ways to discover new beaches, pathways and places of interest in South Uist on the mystical Hebrides

Here on the Hebrides, Slow Ways routes twist and turn through all types of landscapes and terrain. Some routes include long stretches on beautiful Hebridean beaches, others cross moorland or head up hills to the islands’ highest points. 

Although I have lived on Scottish Islands most of my life, located on Berneray, a small island placed at the top of an island chain that makes up Uist, I love visiting nearby islands. I still have much exploring to do. My favourite sites to visit include North Uist, Harris and here on Berneray; but these adventures do not get me further south, to the islands of Benbecula or South Uist, very often. 

This led me to the Slow Ways website, to look for new beaches, walking routes or places of interest to visit in the area. 

Slow Ways website showing routes mapped out across Scotland, Uist and Benbecula

One particular Slow Ways route on Benbecula has a little bit of everything. Starting at Iochdar, South Uist the route twists and turns for over 18 miles finishing at Carinish, North Uist. Following sections of coastline, road, beach, moor and hills, the route summits Rueval, the highest point on Benbecula before continuing down the other side and meandering through the landscape on towards North Uist. 

My favourite part of this route was walking up Rueval, a hill I often pass but had not yet climbed

Rather than walking the entire 18 mile route, I decided to divide it up into sections, visiting selected locations from the route over two days. Some of the more scenic beaches I visited on foot, taking my drone with me for aerial photography. Other sections of long road I skipped as I frequently drive these. My favourite part of this route was walking up Rueval, a hill I often pass but had not yet climbed. 

The following photo essay is in chronological order as if walking the Clachan – Carinish route marked on Slow Ways.

Crossing the causeway from South Uist to Benbecula
Liniclate beach
Cula Bay

Uist as a whole is made up of low lying islands and land, dotted with lochs and sea throughout, with beautiful sandy beaches lining the majority of the west coast.

This Slow Ways route begins at the very top of South Uist at Clachan, Iochdar. A short walk on the main road brings you to the first causeway along the route. These are built across fords to join two islands together. When crossing the causeway at low tide, the sand and sea patterns beneath are visible, when the light is correct the blue colours of the Hebridean seas comes alive.

For the next 5km, the path follows the changing coastline, some rocky shoreline and others sweeping beaches

A few miles further into the route, I arrive at the first beach – Liniclate. The west coast is full of beaches; ones leads onto the next, and each one is different from the last. For the next 5km, the path follows the changing coastline, some rocky shoreline and sweeping beaches. 

Following the road, the route leaves the west coast and cuts across the width of Benbecula. The hills and mountains are situated to the east side of the island. A gravel track starts the walk towards the bottom of Rueval. Although only 124m (405 foot) high, it is the highest point on the island of Benbecula and offers 360 degree views out across Benbecula and further to neighbouring islands. 

After a night of wind and rain, the ground underfoot can be wet and boggy in places. At this time of year the hills are turning a bright purple as the heather blooms.

The route twists up the side of Rueval, boggy peat paths mix with areas of rocks to climb over. Stopping half way up offers great views across Benbecula; the true ratio of water to land becomes visible, and you get a sense of how flat the area is. The sea and lochs make up a large area scattered throughout the land.

A trig point marks the top of Rueval – 124 metres (405 foot) above sea level.

Descending down the other side of the hill, the walk meanders around these lochs for another 2.5km or so. Leaving the uneven and wet ground behind, the route re-joins the main road for the remainder of this Slow Ways route. Another causeway crosses the North Ford from Benbecula to Grimsay and onto North Uist.

This section of causeway in the longest on the Outer Hebrides spanning 5 miles and joining together 3 islands

This section of causeway in the longest on the Outer Hebrides spanning 5 miles and joining together three islands. Before being built in 1960, this area could only be crossed on the sand at low tide or by small boat when the tide was in. Crossing the last section from Grimsay onto North Uist, I find the end of the route is in sight, finishing at Carinish.

Causeway crossing onto North Uist
Causeway crossing onto North Uist

I like to combine my time spent outdoors with my photography. Taking drone photos has allowed me to explore new places and see landscapes from different angles. In turn I love to share these photographs with others on social media.

Liniclate beach looking back towards Iochdar

Over these two days I spent in and around Benbecula, I visited new areas, walked new beaches and climbed new hills. 

My favourite drone shot of the route is taken from Liniclate beach looking back towards Iochdar, South Uist.  

Eilidh Carr

Eilidh brings together her passion for photography and adventure in order to share with others around the world her stories and photographs from land, sea and sky.

Living and working on the west coast of Scotland in the Outer Hebrides allows Carr to combine her photography, both drone work and camera, with her love of fresh air, sea and exploring places old and new. When she’s not travelling in her converted van, you’ll find Eilidh working in her award-winning island gift shop, Coralbox. This small independent business is where her dream of becoming her own boss first started.

As a solo traveller, she takes great pleasure in sharing her escapades and snippers of daily island life through her online social media and photography.

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