SOLAS AND MACHAIR, NORTH UIST
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From Skye — Take the A87(T) north, through Portree, to Uig. At Uig take the ferry across to Lochmaddy (you will need to book in advance to ensure a place). |
On arrival in Uist take a little time out to visit the Lochmaddy community centre (on the right, just after leaving the ferry) before continuing through the village for 1km (0.6mi). Take the turning to the right onto the A865. Solas is about 14km (9mi).
Photographs (click on thumbnails for higher resolution)
Solas (Sollas), Machair, and Traigh IarCommemorative and Picnic Area — Commemorates the repopulation of Solas in 1899 after the mid
C19th evictions cleared the area of its inhabitants in favour of sheep which were much more profitable.
Take the track opposite the Co-op store and continue in almost a straight line
heading towards the shore.
Keep walking across the machair, following the slighty indistinct track and you
will see the Traigh Iar sand dunes looming in the distance.
By the end of the track you can pass between two dunes and onto Traigh Iar
itself, a 3mi long, gently curving beach of fine sand, deserted and with breakers
rumbling in from the Atlantic.
Turning back on your tracks you can appreciate the fragility of the dunes, which
could be swept away so easily by a winter storm. However, attempts are being
made to stabilise them using old fishing nets.
You can now retrace your steps or, having passed back through the dunes, head over to the left toward Traigh Ear to pick up the Greinetobht township road.
From here you can walk back round to Solas (1.5km/1mi) by the road.
Note: Most of the above photographs were taken at about 9.45-10.00 in the evening at the end of May. However, the exposure has been adjusted to brighten tham up a bit.
Picts and Traigh UdalFrom Greinetobht road end, drive down the track to the parking/picnic area (seen here in a raging storm!). Leave your car at the parking place and carry on, across the ford, onto Traigh Ear. It is possible to follow this route on bicycle – though not a racing bike, I would suggest!
About 500m along Traigh Ear turn off onto a track going off on your left. about a mile on it will take you past the remains of a Pictish settlement.
Although 3000 year old, one can almost feel the presence of the Neolithic
peoples living here in the early days of Uist's history.
Beyond the settlement you can descend to Traigh Udal (Gaelic: Beach of the moving/flitting), a beach that in the Med. woudl be packed with sun woshippers! However, in the Outer Hebrides, on a fine day, in the shelter of the dunes it is a deserted paradise, a haven from the noise and bustle of our modern daily existance, and at its eastern end a suntrap.
Traigh Udal is backed by enormous sand cliffs, seemingly fragile and threatened by rising sea levels and ever more frequent storms.
At the far end of Traigh Udal you can thread your way 40m up Aird a' Mhorain to a trig point which commands a stupendous panorama. On the left is the view south with Traigh Ear (left) and Traigh Udal (right).
And in the opposite direction we can look across Caolas a' Mhorain to the island of Boraraigh (which is mentioned again below).
FlowersMaybe this is a fitting point to mention that the Machair is host to an abundance of widlife, including many species of flowers. So, here are pictures showing just four species that are found in abundance. They are eye-bright (some of the thousands on Rubha Caol), and Dwarf Milkwort, Small-flowered Cranesbill, and Field Wild Pansy (all found at the Pictish settlement).
MiscellanyI wrote earlier that I would mention Boraraigh again. The picture on the left must be of one of the most exclusive burial grounds in the UK as to be buried here one must be both a member of the Clan MacLean and to have lived on Boraraigh. The cemetry is still in use, the most recent burial there being in 1979. (The building is a clan chief's mausoleum.)
This is the farthest point of our journey and we can now walk back up to the track and, turning left, head back to Traigh Ear and Greinetobht.
If you would like a free full size copy (original 2560x1920 camera jpg file) of any of these pictures,