Machair is fertile soil formed by windblown sand, and is only found in the north and west of Britain and Ireland. In Bragar many of the machair plots are still traditionally cultivated, creating a patchwork of habitats - this makes for great species-diversity, including the full range of colourful machair flowers, for example orchids, yellow rattle, wild carrot, eyebrights, knapweed, trefoils, vetches, bugloss, clovers and corn marigold.
This is an important area for breeding corncrakes. Corncrakes were once widespread but their numbers declined dramatically with the mechanisation of farming, and they are now mainly confined to the far north-west of Britain and Ireland. Their rasping call can be heard throughout the summer months. Look out for the Great Yellow Bumblebee, one of Britain’s rarest bees, and for otters on the shoreline and around Loch Ordais. Loch Ordais and the adjacent shoreline are important feeding grounds for wading birds and waterfowl.
Port Mhòr Bhràdhagair has a shingle beach with a low-tide sandy beach. It is popular with surfers and windsurfers, and there is a slipway where small boats can be launched. There is another small beach at Manaisiadar, a short walk from the machair along a rocky coastline with low cliffs, perfect for wave-watching.
The wider coast
Grinneabhat is a good base for exploring the west Lewis coastline. To the south-west there is a route along cliff-top heathland to Dalbeg, Dalmore and Gearrannan, featuring spectacular cliffs, sea-stacks and arches, rocky coves and stunning beaches. The stiles in some parts of this route have fallen into disrepair - we can advise on the best route to take.
To the north-east, the Arnol coastline features high cliffs, sea-stacks and rocky coves. Seabirds nest here and you can see fulmar petrels soaring and riding the updraughts. From Arnol it is possible to walk the coast all the way to the Butt of Lewis, the most northerly point of the island, passing by croftland, bays, cliffs, beaches, abandoned settlements and the remains of eight early Christian chapels (see ‘The Chapels in the Western Isles’ by Finlay Macleod, Acair), with the ever-changing Atlantic alongside. Throughout these walks the road is never more than 2 km away, so it is easy to walk in stages (we can advise on bus timetables or arrange taxi pick-up/drop-offs).
If you would like Grinneabhat to arrange a walking holiday for you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org