An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

58.104571, -6.437676
Distance: 4.7 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 6 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: East coast of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
  • Size: 110 ha
  • Terrain: Free-range grass paths; animal tracks through bracken
  • Access: Tidal (2 hours either side of neap high tides; 1 hour either side of spring low tides)
  • Height gain: 186 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 457
  • Starting point: Cromore (GR 58.102536, -6.414931)
  • Accommodation/food:

    The Loch Erisort Inn is located midway between Stornoway and Tarbert, about 1.5 miles along the B8060 at Balallan from the A859. Surrounded by croft land and with views over Loch Erisort, it occupies a peaceful and tranquil setting. Don’t be put off by the jaded exterior – there is a warm welcome, a friendly and well-stocked bar, good home-cooked food waiting and clean, comfortable basic rooms on offer. The owners are great sources of local information.

  • Island Summary:

    Eilean Chaluim Chille is an uninhabited island that lies off the east coast of Lewis at the mouth of Loch Erisort. At low tide it is connected by a causeway to the mainland of Lewis at Crobeg, just west of Cromore.

    On the south-eastern shore the remains of medieval St Columb’s Church stand in a graveyard. The island is thought to be the site of the first arrival of Christian, Columban, monks in the northern Western Isles and the structure of the church is likely to have been similar to one identified on Iona. The graveyard around the ruins of the church was used by local people until the 19th century. A more recent enclosed burial ground lies between the causeway and the church ruins.

    The rest of the island is wild and grazed by sheep. There are two lochans in the centre of the island with great views of the hills of Lewis across Loch Erisort.

    The island can be accessed on foot at low tide via a gravel and stone causeway.

  • Look out for:
    • Ruins of a medieval church
    • Huge variety of seaweeds to explore along the causeway
    • Great views across Loch Erisort
  • Route description:

    In Cromor there there is space for a couple of cars if parked carefully opposite the telephone box. From here walk south, back along the road, then turn almost immediately turn right onto the minor road that heads uphill. Pass a number of houses, through two gates gate onto a good quality track towards a bungalow at Crobeg. Just before reaching the bungalow take the right fork through a further gate. Turn right along the shore to reach the island’s causeway.

    Cross the causeway and follow the grass track to the left to reach the church remains. Continue along the unmarked grass path, past more ruins and continue around the coastal route using the animal tracks that are available through the grazed areas. On the north and east coasts the landscape is ungrazed and wilder and requires some route finding and bracken-bashing -although there are animal paths to follow. Return to the causeway.

  • Getting there:

    Car: leave the A859 and follow signs for Pairc and South Lochs on the B8060. At Eishal Junction turn left and follow signs to Cromor.

    Bus: it is possible to connect the W9 bus from Stornaway to South Lochs with the W10 Stornaway bus – but best to contact the operator to check current days and times of operation (A. Macdonald, 01851 830327).

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