Hebridean Way Walking Route Section A: Vatersay to Northbay (Barra)

Add Hebridean Way Walking Route Section A:  Vatersay to Northbay (Barra) to your Itinerary

Vatersay Bay
  • Vatersay Bay
  • Vatersay: Start of Hebridean Way monolith
  • Barra: View on way up Beinn Tangasdal
  • Barra: shoreline
  • Track up Beinn Bhirisig
  • Barra: view from Beinn Bhirisig to the north west
  • Barra: track along loch na Duin at Northbay

About

**Please note the advisory on this section**​​

Height Climbed: 798m / 2620ft

Height Descended: 805m / 2642ft

Terrain: 5 miles rough, pathless walking over waymarked moorland; 3 miles on good paths and tracks; 5 miles on quiet tarmac roads

The Hebridean Way starts in spectacular style at the newly refurbished Community Hall on Vatersay. Connected to Barra by a road causeway, Vatersay is a fascinating and beautiful little island. Make sure you take time to enjoy the two stunning beaches just behind the hall before setting off on your journey.

The first day takes you on a wonderful tour, first through Vatersay itself and then along the hilly backbone of Barra. Along the way you will encounter some of the most beautiful beaches in Britain, as well as some fine moorland hiking across heather clad hills. Listen out for the rasping call of the corncrake in the township fields in May and June – this rare bird loves the island’s traditionally managed hay meadows.

If you plan your walk well you may end up at the north end of the island in time to watch a Twin Otter plane landing on Tràigh Mhòr beach. This is the only scheduled air service anywhere in the world to use a tidal beach as a runway and is a remarkable sight. If you are even more fortunate you will have arrived in Barra this way!

Map & Directions

Route Waypoints
  1. The Hebridean Way starts outside Vatersay village hall - a fittingly beautiful start to a wonderful walk. Make sure you visit Vatersay's two spectacular beaches, one either side of the hall, before setting out along the road towards Castlebay.
  2. Just below the road is a memorial and the remains of a Catalina flying boat that crashed on the hillside above here in 1944.
  3. Continue along the pleasant single track road until you come to the Vatersay causeway. Built in 1991, this vital link with Barra is widely credited with saving Vatersay - without it there is a good chance the island would have been abandoned.
  4. A few hundred metres after the causeway the path leaves the road and heads left up the hillside.
  5. Take your time on the climb and remember to keep looking back. The views to Vatersay and the uninhabited Bishop's Isles to the south are superb.
  6. There is no path but wooden waymarker posts show the way over Beinn Tangabhal.
  7. Before crossing the stile make a short detour down to the shore to see the remains of Dun Bàn, an iron age fort set in a spectacular location on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Atlantic.
  8. Continue along the coast, following the waymarkers as they lead you past some fine rocky scenery, to the beautiful beach at Halaman Bay.
  9. On reaching the road turn left and walk past the attractive Isle of Barra Beach Hotel.
  10. Turn right at Craigston and continue past a school and church.
  11. At the end of the tarmac road continue along the good track that lies ahead.
  12. A good path follows on from the end of the track.
  13. As the path climbs up the hillside the views behind you improve with every stride.
  14. The path ends at a gate. Go through this then cross a stile and turn right up the hillside. Wooden marker posts show the way through the overgrown heather.
  15. Follow the posts away from the old fence.
  16. Turn left along a grassy track that takes you along the shores of the beautiful Loch an Dùin.
  17. On reaching the main road turn right.
  18. The Hebridean Way turns left here onto a small track that leads to a water works. However, if you are staying the night in Northbay, keep straight on along the road and you will reach the village in under a mile. There is fair amount of places stay within a 5 mile radius of this point, with a hotel around a mile away.

Along This Route

  1. Vatersay is the southernmost inhabited island in the Outer Hebrides. It is now linked to…

  2. A monument in memory of those lost in the Annie Jane maritime disaster in 1853.

  3. Kisimul Castle sits on a rocky islet just off the coast of Barra at Castlebay

  1. The wreck of an RAF Catalina seaplane that tragically crashed on the hill killing three…

  2. Neolithic people settled here around 4000 BC and built an artificial platform behind a…

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Along This Route

  1. Advisory - Walk on hill path between Dun Barpa and Grianan.

Route Time -

6h - 7h

Distance -

13.5 miles

Grade -

Moderate

Terrain -

Other

  • Route Information - Terrain - Waymarked Moorland. Tracks. Roads.

Route Type -

Walk

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