Sand of the Outer Hebrides

The Western Isles, or Outer Hebrides have to have some of the finest beaches in the UK. If you stumble upon this page it's more about the sand than the areas or photography. Others linked from the bottom of the page have more photography of the islands. Like other Hebridean pages I apologise for mixing up Gaelic names with the Anglicised versions. Modern maps use Gaelic names, but it wasn't long ago that anglicised ones were used.

Vatersay/ Bhatarsaigh


Vatersay Northern Beaches - Uidh

Across from Castlebay on Barra these three smallish beaches have some of the purest white sand I've seen. Quite remote, but the local dog may accompany you on a walk.





Vatersay Bay - Bàgh Bhatarsaigh

Fences tends to keep the cattle off the beach these days so it's quite difficult to find your way onto the beach unless you start at one end or the other. There's a café at the Northern end in the village hall.





Vatersay West Beach - Bàgh Siar

The other side of the tombolo is the West beach, which faces 3000 miles to America. Best reached from the North end, it's wilder than the last two beaches, and the sand's not so white.




Barra/ Barraigh


Allathsadal

Allathasdal beach is reached across a large area of machair and looks out over rocky islands teaming with oystercatchers, seals and the like. Hardly a pretty 'resort' beach but wonderful for feeling at one with nature.





Tràigh Eais, Barra

A few hundred hundred metres west of Barra Airport across the tombolo this 2km stretch of sand is a quiet haven away from the hustle and bustle of Barra's much maligned Terminal Five.





Tràigh Scurrival, Barra

This is a lovely beach that can make you feel you're alone in the world. The whole bay becomes beach at low tide. When dry, the sand is almost pure white, but sand exposed at low tide is more like halva.





Eoligarry

Facing North towards Eriskay and South Uist this beach curves round to reach Tràigh Scurrival (above).





Barra Airport - Tràigh Mḥr

Tràigh Mḥr is the only airport for the whole of Barra. Expect jumbo jets every two minutes, busy eight lane motorways jammed solid with stationary cars, endless pedestrian subways that seem to go round in circles leading you into a kerosene swamped hell of rampant commercialism, regulations, officialdom and mile long check-in queues that don't move, but you may be pleasantly surprised.




Eriskay/ Eirisgeigh


Coilleag a Phrionnsa, Eriskay

This is the bay that Bonnie Prince Charles arrived in Scotland in 1745. It's now next to the ferry terminal for Barra, but the small "Isle of Wight" style ferries that leave every couple of hours are a pleasant distraction.




South Uist/ Uibhist a Deas


Askernish

Behind the dunes is a historic golf club, laid out over 100 years ago and then 'lost' from the 1920s until local people recreated it from 2005. The beach is difficult to lose as what is basically the same beach stetches for about 20 miles, right the way up the West coast of South Uist.




North Uist/ Uibhist a Tuath


Balranald RSPB

Twice I've been to the RSPB reserve here and twice I've seen a corncrake. You can hear them all over the place in parts of Western Scotland but it's difficult to see one. The beach is a beautiful curved bay of 180 degrees that forms a lovely enclosed arena.





Udal peninsula Tràigh Iar

Here begins a walk that seemed through paradise to me, with one beach after another separated by headlands of dunes leading out to rocky outcrops. Tràigh Iar is about two miles long but looks like it goes on forever, because of its continuation to the island of Vallay





Udal beach

The Udal beach is on the right of the photo, while the one on the left is Sollas, or Tràigh Ear (see below).





Sollas beach - Tràigh Ear

Not to be confused with Tràigh Iar, this is Tràigh Ear (West and East, Ear being East). The beach fills up the bay at low tide, and once a year plays host to the Sollas Fly In of light aircraft.





Hornish Strand, Tràigh Ḥrnais

Another 'infinite' beach, this seems to stretch the four miles to the Udal peninsula. Never very much chance of seeing anyone else on it.





Lingay Strand, Tràigh Lingeigh

Just over a headland from Hornais this beach is shorter bust has some shelter from South Westerly winds. In a June gale in 2015 it felt almost spring like.




Berneray/ Beàrnaraigh


West Beach, Berneray

This is the beach that the Thai tourist board (or more likely someone in the UK working for them on contract) famously thought would pass for a beach in Thailand. Not surprising really! Until you try to take your kagoul off or dip a toe in the water.





Baile Beach, Berneray

Baile is Gaelic for a settlement and this beach is fairly close to the village. There's a few houses nearby, two or three of which are called Baile on the map.




South Harris/ Ceann a Deas na Hearadh


Tràigh na Cleabhaig, Northton

Two beaches face south west from near Northton (Taobh Tuath). Terns nest on the sand on this further one and will let you know if you get too close.





Tràigh Scarasta

The sand at Scarasta is different to most other beaches in the area, being a golden rather than silver colour. The beach faces all directions and one part encloses a large lake just south of Northton that looks like it's part of the sea. A great place to stroll and explore.





Seilebost

If I could go back to primary school it would be to here. The school is behind the dunes and the other views is of Luskentyre beach.





Luskentyre/ Losgaintir

Luskentyre is more of a filled up estuary than a beach in the normal sense of the word. The river and tides sort the sand into darker and lighter areas, and I doubt it ever looks the same twice. Most of it can be walked on but it would be tricky to walk across.





Rosamol

Rosamol is the northern part of Luskentyre's beaches and faces Taransay and the Hills of Harris. It comes complete with its own graveyard and enormous dunes. Reached down a small path by a river, or from round the corner from Luskentyre you feel you've arrived when you get there.




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