Walk 3100 - printer friendly version
The Isle of Eriskay near South Uist, Outer Hebrides Walk
Author - Andy Smith
Length - 3.0 miles / 4.9 km
Ascent - 700 feet / 212 metres
Grade - easy
Start - OS grid reference NF783113
Lat 57.079885 + Long -7.3116281
Postcode HS8 5JL (approx. location only)
For many the Outer Hebrides is the forgotten part of Britain and can offer a true sense of wilderness to those of us living in the metropolis of the mainland. Once visited, you are left haunted with a sense of isolation that's impossible to describe to others unless they have been there. However for the few who do live on the islands, never a warmer welcome is given to visitors who make the effort to come here.
This walk takes in most of the populated areas on the tiny island of Eriskay, made famous by the novel and film of the true story Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie following the sinking of the SS Politician on 5th February 1941 just off the coast of Eriskay. Although made famous by this book, the island has been through its problems maintaining the community, until the causeway was finally constructed in 1999 to the delight of the locals. The route covers a little bit of everything including the coast, the tiny roads that are a pleasure to walk on, and Beinn Scrien the tallest peak on the island.
The walk starts from a tiny patch of ground by the beach, and also a hotspot for the occasional wild camper just south of the burial ground in the village of Am Baile where there is plenty of parking (Grid ref. NF783113). From here join the coast path, which is marked by a yellow pole and well trodden by the locals. Very quickly you find yourself just above the stunning white Prince Charlie's bay where you have the option of staying on track, or dropping down onto the sands as you make your way heading to the Barra ferry terminal. Around 250 metres from the terminal, the path turns southeast passing a single house to the left and onto the road. Here turn left facing the junction and left again as the road climbs very steeply up towards Coileag. At the sign for Coileag, there is another yellow way marker on the right-hand side of the road marking the next objective, Bienn Scrien.
The path up this small mountain is surprisingly clear which is a little of a mystery, taking into account I passed four walking tourists on it in the space of an hour! The going is very marshy and gaiters should be recommended regardless of the weather. Once you reach the fence, cross through the gate leading directly onto the hill above. I chose the obvious route, a clear gully lined with grass, which is pretty heavy going but by no means a scramble. When the gully is finally tackled, you make your own way turning left up onto the summit rock. Once there you can enjoy your own "Castaway" experience with the island's coast in every direction! To southwest are stunning views of the Isle of Barra, to the north South Uist, and to the east the Cuillin range on Skye can be seen, 47 miles away.
After making your way down to the road again, turn off left by the radio mast heading downhill on back into Am Baile passing the lovely outdoor church on the hillside, overlooking the sea. Shortly you come across the island's only shop as you head on to Rubha Ban. Here turn left once again and you're back on the road you started, heading for your camp or car, so no excuse for not popping into the Am Politician (the only pub), for a meal and a few drinks with very welcoming islanders, reminiscing over a truly wonderful opening to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.