Beautiful, unspoilt beaches
Our beaches have the highest shell content in Scotland (around 80-95%). The Atlantic rollers pounding our shores are so powerful that they have crushed these shells to a silky fine consistency. The extensive shallow bays and coastlines give rise to massive areas of white sands. On sunny days this means you could mistake the coastline for the Bahamas - the sea takes on a tropical turquoise as the sand reflects the light of the sun through the sparklingly clean waters. We also have tides of approximately five metres, which wash our shores twice daily, ensuring they are perfectly clean with not a footprint in sight. Here are just some of the beautiful beaches that you can visit and enjoy in Uig & Bernera:
Camas Uig (Uig Sands)
Uig Bay is a National Scenic Area, one of only 40 in Scotland. The designation reflects the bay's status as an area of unsurpassed attractiveness which must be conserved as part of our national heritage and gives the beach international recognition as a Category V Protected Landscape in the IUCN's World List of Protected Areas. At one time Uig Sands formed one of the most important centres of population on the Isle of Lewis. At least five townships were cleared in the early part of the 19th century to form the farm of Eadar Dha Fhadhail (Ardroil). The main access to the bay is from the village of Ardroil, where you will find a road down to a car park and small caravan site. Buried in the sandbanks at nearby Bealach Ban the Uig Chessmen were found in 1831. The chess pieces are the most important Norse artefact in existence, and have been housed for more than a century and a half in the National Museum in Edinburgh and the British Museum in London. Since 2016 some pieces are housed in the Lews Castle Museum in Stonorway. A giant 8 ft replica of one of the Kings has been installed on the machair by the road down to the beach at Ardroil, carved from wood by Stephen Hayward of Tain.
Traigh Mhangurstadh (Mangersta beach)
In 1896 a Danish schooner, the Grana, ripped her sails in the Atlantic and let out anchor to avoid being wrecked; the ship was too far out in the bay for the crew to come ashore. A farmer's wife, Christina Mackay, witnessed the disaster and waded into the wild seas with a rope and then helped the crew to haul the anchor lines ashore. Her bravery and quick response ultimately saved the entire crew. The grateful men presented their heroine with a clock. The ship's anchor chain and other bits of wreckage can still be seen on the beach.
For surfers: Mangurstadh is definitely for experienced surfers only, serious rips make this a very dangerous but intense break but outstanding if the swell is right.
Traigh na Clibhe (Cliff Beach)
As this is open to the Atlantic, the bay is usually full of white-frilled rollers tumbling shore wards. These are excellent for surf-boarders and kayakers, but the beach is unsafe for bathers. The break here has been rated by former Scottish Surfing Champion, Ian Masson as the best he has ever surfed.
Traigh na Beirghe (Reef Beach)
Reef is a long sweeping glorious beach! Sheltered by the islands of Pabaigh, Bhacasaigh and Siaram, the beach is safe for bathing and ideal for wind-surfing and dinghy sailing. This area provides some of the finest scenery in Lewis, combining machair, beach and cliff, along with a marvellous spectacle of wild flowers in summer, including a wide range of orchids. There are numerous archaeological remains, which you are asked to leave undisturbed. Sand has been blown into the adjacent Locha Chuilc, and this is now the largest reedbed in Lewis and Harris. Unfortunately the machair here is suffering erosion from vehicles so cars should park in designated areas.
Traigh a' Chidhe & Traigh Bhoisiadar, Carnais
Carnais in the south-west is dominated by a gravel ridge - an esker - which is now being extensively quarried. There are two lovely beaches at Carnais. To reach them, it is requested that you walk across the common land and not through the crofts. At the Carnais road-end take a north westerly route in to the peninsula. The old dwellings are situated a few hundred yards from the road. The walk along the coast is beautiful. Remains of a pier at Traigh a' Chidhe - built in 1820 - are evidence of the importance of Carnais as a fishing village. Traigh Bhoisiadar is a good and safe beach for swimming.
Mealasta has three beautiful beaches, the first of which is almost always calm and good for swimming. However the second beach (approaching from Breanais), which is below Taigh nan Cailleachan Dubha, is vulnerable to change and to the severity of the weather, and is often covered with beach stones. The third beach is surely one of the most secluded on the island; it is tucked into the coast near the Mealasta road-end but is not visible from the road. It is possible to drive to Mol Linis, at the end of the track.
Camas Bostadh (Bosta beach)
Bosta Beach is made from sparkling white shell sand. This popular beach, with a much eroded machair, has good views of the cliff bound islands of Outer Loch Roag, notably Little Bernera, Flodday, Bearsay, the Old Hill and Campay. Campay is pierced by a natural tunnel about 120 metres long. There is an excellent reconstruction of an Iron Age House on the beach. A recent addition to Bosta is the Time & Tide Bell, one of a series of 12 being placed around the UK. The bells work with the rise and fall of the tides, with the water at high tide moving the clapper to strike the bell. Played by the movement of the waves, the bell creates a constantly varying musical pattern.