Scalpay: Summit and Sea
A lovely moorland and coastal walk exploring the small island of Scalpay in the Outer Hebrides.
- Distance: 10.5 km / 6.5 miles
- Ascent: 270 m / 750 feet
- Terrain: moorland and coastal paths (unsurfaced) plus some road walking. A bit rougher underfoot than might be expected of a “heritage trail”.
- Start / finish: the village on Scalpay.
Walk out of the village in an easterly direction (as if heading for the bridge). When you reach a corner where the road bends left to go up the hill, take the right hand fork to a few houses. A large sign for the Heritage Trail points right towards a house. The path starts from a gate at the right hand side of the house.
The route is now waymarked on a rough path over moorland passing two lochans. The summit of Scalpay, Beinn Sgorabhaig at 104m is soon reached with its two cairns. There are views in all directions. North to the hills of Harris and Lewis and east to the Shiants is particularly good. Southwards is Eilean Glas lighthouse our next destination.
From here the path descends the south east side of the hill with the waymarkers becoming less obvious and Eilean Glas lighthouse in the distance. Stick with the path as it heads over the shoulder of a small hill and down into a wee valley. The path turns right to follow a wall until it meets with a stony path. This stony path is the easy walk into the lighthouse!
Follow the path through a gate in the wall and down the hillside to reach the lighthouse, passing a signpost for Outend. The original lighthouse completed in 1789, was one of the first lighthouses in Scotland and the first in the Outer Hebrides. The current lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson in 1824. There is a small exhibition in one of the out buildings.
After exploring the vicinity of the lighthouse return up the track to the signpost.
The return route is on a grassy coastal path following the 2.2km route to Outend. Again there are waymarkers to keep you on track and the ground is a lot drier than the outward route. There is a fair bit of up and down along the length of the path so it may take you longer than expected. The path eventually joins the tarmac road close to its end point.
If you are short of time, an alternative is to follow the other signposted route along the stony path. This is a slightly shorter and easier walk back to the road.
From the road end you now have a 3km road walk back to the village. It is however, a very quiet road and the views are rewarding.