Walking from Grinneabhat
There is a lot to see within walking distance of Grinneabhat, and we would encourage visitors to take time to explore on foot. Please follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Leave all gates as you found them, and keep dogs on leads to avoid disturbing livestock, crops and ground-nesting birds. Some suggested routes are given below, and more information is available at Grinneabhat.
Ceann a’ Deas Bhràdhagair
An easy circuit of the village of South Bragar, following the road. Passing the Whalebone Arch, Dùn Loch an Dùine, and the crofting village landscape with views over lochs, moor, ocean, and along the coastline to Ness. About 5km.
Port Bhràdhagair, Manaisadar
An easy circular walk with an off-road coastal section joining two tracks. Can be extended to add a machair walk to Loch Ordais, and/or a walk along the shingle beach of Tàmol. See the crofting landscape, Port Mhòr Bhràdhagair, Teampall Eòin pre-reformation chapel, the crannog on Loch a' Bhaile/Loch Arnol, wildflowers in summer. Good for birdwatching and wave-watching. If you’re quiet you may see otters – look out for their paths and spraint marks.
Dogs must be kept on leads to avoid disturbing ground-nesting birds (several red list endangered species nest in the area), livestock and growing crops. 4 to 6.5km.
Àrd Bheag, Àrd Mhòr & Fìbhig
A walk through the machair and on to coastal heathland, rocky bays and cliffs to the storm beach at Fìbhig, returning via the South Bragar village road. Clifftop walk with views out over the Atlantic and along the west coast of the island. Watch gannets passing by the headlands and diving out at sea, and look out for sea eagles. There is no path, and there are several fences to cross (not suitable for dogs unless they can be lifted over fences). About 8.5km.
Taigh-tughaidh Àrnoil, RSPB Loch na Muilne
Village roads and coastal heathland, the Arnol Blackhouse Museum, the RSPB reserve at Loch na Muilne, cliffs and shoreline. The museum includes a visitor centre and a 1920s ‘white house’, as well as the ‘black house’ with its peat fire. Look out for the Red-necked Phalarope, a rare and unusual Arctic wader, at Loch na Muilne in summer. Follow the main road to Arnol then the village road to the Black House, and marker posts to Loch na Muilne. Follow the coast to the shore road which takes you back through the village. Views out to sea and across the island’s interior, and of the crannog on Loch Arnol. About 8.5km
Follow peat tracks out into the moorland interior of the island. In summer there is a lot to see and hear – the calls and songs of birds such as curlew, redshank, snipe, diver, skylark and meadow pipit, the buzz and rustle of bees, dragonflies and damselflies, and flowers like waterlilies and bogbean, carnivorous sundew and butterwort, and tiny milkwort, eyebright and tormentil that stud the moorland. In winter it is a much sparser, emptier place, with only the sound of the wind through the grass, the lapping of water and the croak of ravens to break the silence. Golden and sea eagles are frequently seen at all times of year. It is recommended that you carry an OS map and compass if you go beyond the peat tracks – phone reception can be unreliable.
‘For the ear, the most vital thing that can be listened to here is silence.’ Nan Shepherd
Cuairt cladach an Taobh Siar
Grinneabhat is an ideal base for a multi-day walk along the west Lewis coastline, from the blackhouse village at Gearrannan to Rubha Robhanais, the Butt of Lewis in Ness. Parts of the route are waymarked, other stretches are not. The whole route is about 50km long, with high cliffs, sea stacks and arches, beautiful sandy beaches, and stretches of low shoreline where you walk right next to the waves. The difficulty of the walk depends on the weather – there are no big ascents or descents (although there are fences to cross), but the next landfall is Iceland so it can feel and be very exposed. The main road and bus route is never more than a couple of kilometres away, and there are tracks to the shore at each village along the coast so it is easy to work out a route using public transport, or a combination of car and public transport.
There were ten early Christian chapels along this route, and most of the sites can still be seen. Comann Eachdraidh Nis have published a guide to the eight chapels in the Ness area - Slighe nan Naomh ‘The Saints Trail’ by Rachel Barrowman. See also ‘Slighe Chaluim Chille’ at colmcille.org.
Be aware of dangerous cliffs - keep well away from cliff edges at all times.