East Beach, Berneray


Route: Berneray

Area: Outer Hebrides, Berneray

Date of walk: 6th March 2024

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 9.2 miles

Ascent: 500 feet

Weather: Mostly sunny 

The island of Berneray lies between North Uist, where we’ve been staying for the last two nights, and Harris, where we’ll be staying tomorrow for a few days. Berneray is more accessible than it once was, being linked to North Uist by a 900 metre-long causeway officially opened by Prince (now King) Charles on the eve of the millennium

Having driven across the causeway we parked at the Berneray Community Centre at the edge of Borve. We follow a sometimes pathless course, guided partly by some wooden marker posts to the Cladh Maolrithe Standing Stone at the top of the modest hill of Beinn a’ Chlaidh. From here we descended to a single track road which we followed around the edge of Loch A Bhaigh. We had some good sightings of common seals along the way. At Port Ludaig we made a short there and back diversion to admire some picturesque old cottages set at the edge of East beach

After that worthwhile diversion we returned to the road, passing above East Beach which looked idyllic set in a turquoise sea with the hills of Harris in the distance. We left the road to climb up through a field and past the cemetery. After an easy climb we reached the highest point on Berneray, Beinn Shleibhe. The views were wonderful, especially looking towards Harris and Pabbay

We made an easy descent, aiming for the northern end of West Beach. This is one of the finest beaches in the Hebrides, and is around 3 miles long. We had the place to ourselves as we walked along the perfect shell sand  for an hour or so. This was a heavenly section of the walk. Eventually the time came to leave the beach, and this proved to be the only unsatisfactory part of an otherwise perfect walk. The beach is backed by high dunes, some 25 feet tall, and when we arrived at the point of departure there seemed to be no way up. We tried a few times, but it was a case of one step up two steps down. We continued along the beach until we reached an obvious breach in the dunes and here climbed up. We then had to walk back along the top of the dunes to regain our course. This added about 1.5 miles to the walk. Anyone following this route may wish to consider reversing the recommended direction of travel, as descending the dunes would be no issue.

Having got back on course we located the Community Centre, easily recognisable by its red roof, and followed a mostly pathless route towards it, dodging back and forth beween numerous small lochans. Despite the minor navigation issue, it had been a fantastic walk – one of the best

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