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Detailed Route Instructions

Section E - Lionacleit to Grimsay

Grade

Easy to Moderate

Type

Walk

Description

A day exploring the beaches and croftlands of Benbecula, followed by a climb up Ruabhal - a tiny hill with a huge view.

Walk Waypoints

  1. 1 Turn left at the entrance of the Dark Island Hotel and follow the driveway past the right hand side of the building.
  2. 2 The track continues over a cattle grid towards the obvious large wind turbine.
  3. 3 Just before the turbine an opening in the fence leads to a gap in the dunes. Turn right when you get to the beach.
  4. 4 After about 0.5 mile (1km) the sandy beach ends, so head right onto the grassy dunes and go around the small headland.
  5. 5 Once round the headland drop down onto the beach and thread your way through the mats of kelp seaweed that often cover the shore here. Kelp is still collected to day and used by crofters as fertiliser for growing crops of oats and barley on the machair.
  6. 6 At the next headland the sand disappears and you will need to follow a grassy path for a short way.
  7. 7 Once round the headline drop down again to the shore and follow the lovely sandy beach for 1 mile (2km). If the tide is too high, or if strong winds make a beach walk too exfoliating, make your way instead along the tops of the dunes.
  8. 8 At the north end of the beach head up onto the dunes. Walk along the top of these until the road is reached near a small pier.
  9. 9 Follow the single track north towards Balivanich.
  10. 10 Just before the little settlement of Nunton a path heads left away from the road through the dunes and takes you to the beach at Culla Bay.
  11. 11 Leave the beach at the north end via an obvious track that leads up and right to a small car park. Turn left here along the small road, then after 400m head right down another small lane to the main road.
  12. 12 The Hebridean Way turns right at the main road. However, it is also possible to continue along the route by turning left and heading into Balivanich, the administrative centre of the Uists, which has supermakets, a bank and some nice cafés.
  13. 13 After 300m turn left onto a small road signposted to Sliabh na h-Airde (Muir of Aird).
  14. 14 Carry straight on at a road junction. If you have detoured through Balivanich you can rejoin the Hebridean Way here.
  15. 15 Carry straight on at the crossroads. This is Market Stance - once a centre for agricultural trading on Benbecula. Today it houses a local authority recycling site.
  16. 16 Follow the road over a cattle grid, where it turns into a good track leading towards the small hill of Ruabhal(Rueval).
  17. 17 Soon you reach an attractive freshwater loch, Loch Bà Una. The small willows by its shore are often covered in bumble bees in early summer. At a tiny quarry turn left off the main track and follow a small path that climbs steadily up the hillside.
  18. 18 For such a small hill (a mere 124m high) the views from Ruabhal are outstanding. The eastern shores of Benbecula are revealed as a spectacular, half drowned landscape with more water than land. To the north and south the two causeways linking Benbecula with North and South Uist can be seen. Until these were built in the mid 20th Century these were fords, only passable at low tide, with treacherous quicksand to catch the unwary traveller. The Gaelic name of Benbecula is Beinn na Faoghla, meaning "Hill of the Fords". You are standing on that hill right now...
  19. 19 The way down off the hill follows pathless terrain to the north. Wooden marker posts show the way. If you get lost, just aim for the gap between the two obvious lochs in front of you.
  20. 20 After 1 mile (2km) of increasingly wet walking over the boggy lower slopes of Ruabhal, the route eventually joins the minor road to Kyles Flodda. Turn left here.
  21. 21 Turn right onto the main road.
  22. 22 Follow the road over the North Ford causeway, grateful that travellers no long have to pick a precarious route through the quicksand. If you are crossing at mid-tide the sea will be racing through this little bridge - the only gap in this part of the causeway.
  23. 23 The road makes the briefest of visit to Grimsay before heading on over another causeway to North Uist. Grimsay is an attractive, rocky little island that has a busy working harbour at Kallin on its sheltered east coast. It is well worth visiting Uist Wool - a spinning mill and wool centre. There are a couple of B&B's in Grimsay with some more accommodation a few miles north in Cairinish, North Uist.

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