Monday, January 6, 2014

Aird a' Mhorain

The hike out to Aird a' Mhorain is a classic Hebridean walk, one I have done four times now. The round trip to its end and back is about seven miles, as the narrow peninsula extends some three miles out into the Sound of Harris. To get there drive to Grenitote, the northernmost point on the North Uist ring-road, find a place to leave the car, then set out to the north.

There are several aspects to the walk that make it a must-do. First off are the two amazing beaches that cover each side of the peninsula (first and second photo), and if the tide is out you can do much of the walk on the hard-pack sand. Along the way you will enjoy unobstructed views to the many nearby islands in the Sound. 

East Beach - Aird a' Mhorain
West Beach - Aird a' Mhorain
There are also historical aspects to the walk that make it worthwhile. Near the tip of the peninsula lies Caibeal Bhororaigh, the burial ground of Boreray, an island that lies just a half mile offshore (next photo). The burial ground has only a few readable tombstones, most notably to the Macleans of Boreray. But there are over a hundred simple tombstones with no names on them. As described in chapter 14 (book 2) you will also find the beautiful Well of the Cross on the beach west of the burial ground.

Caibeal Bhororaigh on the tip of Aird a' Mhorain
Another historical aspect to the walk is to pay a visit to Udal, a ruined village at the centre of the peninsula. Lying in the sand are over 20 ruined buildings, including four wheelhouses. Udal was a major settlement in the 13th and 14th centuries. 

Udal ruins - looking towards North Uist
Udal ruins - looking towards Harris
After exploring Udal you can return to Grenitote by either walking on across the machair, or by returning to the east beach. The entire walk covers fairly level terrain, so it can be enjoyed by anyone. I'm looking forward to doing it again someday.

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