Singing Sands, Traigh Bhan

The Singing Sands

Route: Carraig Fhada and the Singing Sands

Area: Southern Islay

Date of walk: 20th March 2022

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 3.0 miles

Ascent: 200 feet

Weather: Sunny, very windy

Thanks to gale force winds, this morning’s walk had been shorter than planned, and this left time for another walk in the afternoon

We started from the parking area opposite the cemetery on the Oa road out of Port Ellen. After walking back along the road we joined a track by some woodland and this took us down to a beautiful golden beach at the east end of Kilnaughton Bay, with the ruins of a bathing hut on the left. We crossed a small burn in the sands without getting our feet wet, but after a rainy spell it may be necessary to paddle across. There followed a delightful stroll along the beach, with views across the bay back to Port Ellen

At the end of the beach we climbed up to the quiet road, heading for the lighthouse at Carraig Fhada. We kept a lookout for otters which frequent the rocky inlets but were out of luck. The twin white towers of the lighthouse are a prominent landmark in these parts, and we’d first seen them from the Calmac ferry when we arrived on the island yesterday

It’s  possible to access the base of the lighthouse via a small bridge, but waves were crashing over it so this wasn’t an option today. We retraced our steps for a few yards and joined a path leading uphill, indicated by a finger post. This path took us along the coastline to reach the beautiful beach of Traigh Bhan, known as the Singing Sands. The ‘singing’ comes from the sound the sand makes as you walk along it, a phenomenon caused by the size of the grains of sand. The sound is indescribable – because we didn’t hear it

Near the end of the beach we located a faint path which climbs uphill to reach a track. There were good views back over the lighthouse to Port Ellen. We followed the track down to the road, retracing our original route for a few yards (this is a figure of eight walk) and then continued along the road. Just before we reached the parking space it was a thrill to see a white tailed eagle fly overhead, quite close by. I quickly fumbled for the telephoto lens in my rucksack but I was too late. Nevertheless it was a wonderful end to the walk

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