A short leisurely walk around the beaches at the north end of the Isle of Barra that can be combined with a bit of plane spotting. In Spring / early Summer this walk is a sea of wild flowers.
- Distance: 7 km / 4.2 miles
- Ascent: 180 m / 590 feet
- Terrain: Beach walking and grassy paths.
- Start/finish: Barra airport (café and toilets available)
This walk starts and finishes at Barra’s small airport where, if you time your visit well, you can view the twin otter land and take off on the beach. The airport is also blessed with a very good café which is open up until 4pm each day.
On the opposite side of the road from the airport, almost opposite the airport, is a gate to a path across a field. This path leads over a grassy field to the dunes of the beautiful Hebriddean beach of Traigh Eais. Before you see the beach you will become aware of the sound of the Atlantic surf crashing against the beach.
When you reach the magnificent sandy beach backed by dunes, turn right to walk its length towards the small hills you see in front of you. The flat topped hill to the left is our destination Dun Sgurabhal.
When you reach the far end of the beach you should be able to find a path through the dunes to a gate leading on to a grassy track. This track end is a favourite spot for surfers and there may be a few vehicles parked here. Cross over the track on to the grassy hillside opposite. A path contours round the hill but ignore it and strike directly up the grassy slopes. Although pathless this is an easy enough ascent. Livestock may be encountered on these grassy hillsides.
From the summit of Ben Eoligarry there are views across the northern end of the island to Eriskay and the hills of South Uist. As tempting as it is to linger here, there is more yet to come.
Walk across the grassy slope in a north north west direction staying on the high ground so as not to lose too much height. After about 500m turn to a more north west direction aiming for the prominent summit of Dun Sgurabhal. You will need to descend slightly into a dip which is a bit steep before regaining height to reach the Dun. The sea pink (thrift) growing on the rocks of the Dun turns it into a natural rock garden in early Summer. Parts of the walls of the Dun are well preserved and it is easy to see why this spot was chosen for a defensive position.
Return to the dip in the hillside that you crossed but this time go right along a grass path rather than crossing over. The path becomes a bit rocky as it leads down to a beautiful secluded cove. Cross over the beach to relocate the path on the other side climbing up out of the cove. This path contours around Ben Eoligarry to bring you back to the track where the gate was.
Go left onto the track and follow it out to the road next to the school. Turn right on to the road and walk back to the airport. There are a few gates giving access to the fields and if the airport is not in use (windsocks flying) you can make your way down on to Traigh Mhor Beach rather than walking on the road.