Walking - Exploring the white sands of the Udal peninsula

On this walk you will encounter many fine beaches.
On this walk you will encounter many fine beaches.

This summer I am going to be leading lots of walking tours on the Uists and Barra. The walking on the Southern Isles is every bit as good as that on Lewis and Harris and the following route, exploring the Udal peninsula on North Uist, is one of the best.

Start at the picnic area by the shore at Grenitote. Head down to the river, then walk upstream to a track and a small bridge.

� Crown Copyright 2014 Ordnance Survey Media 013/14

� Crown Copyright 2014 Ordnance Survey Media 013/14

Once across, follow the track through the machair for a few hundred metres, before a gate in a fence allows you to drop down to Tràigh Ear, the first of many fine beaches on this route.

Make your way across this exquisite tidal bay, where your only company is likely to be a few sanderling and ringed plovers.

At the end of the beach a long spit of sand stretches out to the south, almost enclosing the bay.

This is Corran Àird a Mhòrain, and where it joins the main beach a metal marker post indicates the rough track across the machair that you now need to follow.

Follow this track for 700m or so, then head through a gap in the dunes back down to another beautiful silver beach.

Continue north admiring views across the turquoise waters to the hills of North Uist and South Harris, until the sand is replaced by rounded beach boulders and shingle.

At this point it is time to head inland, clambering through the dunes before joining another sandy track.

After a short distance branch off to the right along another path, following this to one of the most scenic graveyards in the Hebrides - the burial place of the MacLeans from the nearby island of Boreray.

From the graveyard head uphill across the short-cropped machair, threading your way through the grassy hummocks and hollows to the trig point.

It may be a mere 40m above sea level, but the views from here are magnificent.

The islands of Boreray, Pabbay and Siolaigh sit in splendid isolation, with the hills of Harris forming a dramatic backdrop.

Turning round to the south, the whole length of this narrow peninsula stretches out before you, jutting out improbably from the North Uist coastline.

Once rested, it’s time to start making your way back. Drop down from the trig point, heading south through the machair and dunes, then scramble down onto the enticing sands of Tràigh Udal.

Walk the length of the beach, passing the small tidal island of Rubha Huilis, then pick up an obvious landrover track.

After about 300m you will see a fenced enclosure on a small rise on your left.

This is one of the finest archaeological sites in the Uists – the complex and incredibly well preserved remains of a large Iron Age wheelhouse.

These ingenious round houses are only found on the Outer Hebrides and Shetland, and are beautifully adapted to our treeless landscapes. Sturdily built and divided by radiating stone piers, like the spokes of a wheel, the wheelhouse design minimised the need for scarce timber.

After admiring the tenacity and construction skills of our 2,000 year old ancestors, return to the track and enjoy a leisurely ramble back across the Udal machair.

If your appetite for beautiful beaches has not been sated, you can clamber across more dunes and drop down to the curving, silvery expanse of Traigh Iar.

Otherwise, keep following the track and it will eventually bring you back to the start.


Udal walk

Distance: 5.7 miles/ 9.2km Height Climbed: 210 ft/ 64m Time: 3 hours, with plenty of time for stops.

Start point: Drive or catch the bus to Grenitote in North Uist. At the telephone box branch off onto a small road that finishes at a picnic area by the shore.

Footwear: Boots or walking shoes recommended Map: OS Landranger Map 18 - Sound of Harris

Scottish Outdoor Access Code

In Scotland we have some of the best access laws in the world - we have the right to walk on most land provided we behave responsibly and respect the rights of others. Full information can be found at www.outdooraccess-scotland.com.

If you keep to the following guidelines you won’t go far wrong:

- Do not disturb livestock or wildlife

- Keep dogs under control, especially at lambing time

- Leave gates as you found them

- Take all litter home

Get in Touch

Do you have a favourite walk you think other people should know about?

If you have a wonderful walk in your area that you would like to see promoted in these articles, drop me an email mickblunt@hiddenhebrides.co.uk and I will see what I can do!

Hidden Hebrides

Mick Blunt runs the island based company Hidden Hebrides, offering specialist walking holidays and customised day or half day tours.

Visit the Hidden Hebrides website for more information at www.hiddenhebrides.co.uk.

Mick can also be contacted by phone on 07724150015 or email: