An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

57.661747, -7.405838
Distance: 15.7 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walking
Wow Factor: 10 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Off North Uist, Outer Hebrides
  • Size: 260 hectares
  • Terrain: Tidal sands; grassy foreshore and dune tracks
  • Access: Tidal sands
  • Height gain: 251 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 454
  • Starting point: Pull-in at Aird Glas Lat/Long 57.6361, -7.3972; GR NF 780 735
  • Accommodation/food:

    No facilities on the island; café and shop in nearby Sollas

  • Island Summary:

    Vallay sits off the northwest coast of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. It was first settled in Neolithic times and inhabited until the middle of last century so there are plenty of ruins to discover. To the south is a sheltered lagoon, to the north are wild Atlantic beaches with views extending to St Kilda and Harris. This is definitely a coastline of contrasts. Inland, horned Highland cattle bring to mind the Vikings that once invaded these shores. Vallay is a remote and secret destination for nature lovers and pioneering outdoor enthusiasts – walkers, swimmers, surfers, kite-surfers, and windsurfers – although you’ll rarely see another soul.

  • Look out for:
    • Deserted white-shell beaches for swimming or surfing
    • Panoramic views to distant St Kilda
    • Wild camping or marooning yourself to spend more time here
    • Surprising an otter who rarely sees any visitors
    • Epic crossing over vast tidal sands
    • Extraordinary machair with abundant wild flowers and wildlife
  • Route description:

    The walk starts with an epic two-kilometre crossing of vast, tidal Traigh Bhalaigh – Vallay Strand. Once on the island, the free-range route follows animal tracks through the machair alongside the sandy foreshore of the south and east, before continuing on an undulating path over the dunes that back the white crescent beaches of the north coast.

  • Getting there:

    Drive W from Sollas on the A865 and about 2.5km beyond Malacleit find Aird Glas, opposite a forestry plantation, with parking space for 2 cars to the side of the track. Cross Vallay Strand towards the mansion.

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