The Great Bernera Walk

One of the most beautiful walks on Great Bernera (and featured on the Visit Outer Hebrides website) is a circular route around the northern part of the island.

As the map below shows, the walk starts in Breaclete (the ‘hub’ of the island community, with museum and café) and goes in a clockwise direction to Bosta beach at the northern tip of the island and back again.

Map source:

What the guidebook only briefly mentions, however, is that half of the route involves walking on the main (single-track) road, which in peak season can get somewhat busy with cars, buses, motorhomes and the like.

By far the best way to do the walk (if you can arrange this), is to leave your car at Bosta and start the route in Valasay. This post describes the Valasay-Tobson-Bosta section of the route, which takes in some of the most stunning scenery on Bernera and beyond. Allow 2–2½ hours for the walk, plus time at the end to enjoy the beach and a visit to the Iron Age House.

The walk starts at the footbridge at Valasay, where a signpost informs you that the next village, Tobson, is 2¾km away (see picture above). A tidal loch flows under the bridge so, depending on tide times and weather conditions, you could be walking over a calm, shallow trickle or a raging torrent.

The footbridge in summer at low tide
The footbridge in winter with a touch more water

There are a couple of houses over the footbridge – there used to be more but, without vehicular access, getting larger, bulkier supplies to them proved tricky and they were abandoned. The remains of some of these dwellings can be seen dotted around the landscape.

Just before you reach the second house, turn right and follow the waymarkers in a northerly direction.

There are plenty of waymarkers to keep you on track. To the west you can see the hills of Uig and the beaches of Valtos.

The path is pretty well-defined but can be boggy in places, although diversions can be taken over craggier areas. Here are a selection of photos from the section between Valasay and Tobson:

Looking north from Valasay to Tobson
Looking west towards the beach at Reef, Valtos
Looking south towards Harris
Possibly the remains of curing houses (where fish were dried and salted for export)

At Tobson, follow the signposts to the next part of the route towards Bosta beach. There you can dip your feet in the refreshingly cold ocean, enjoy a well-deserved picnic or take a tour of the Iron Age House.

And if you are visiting Bernera outside the summer season, don’t worry – the walk is just as beautiful at any time of the year, as the photos below can testify!

Looking south over Loch a’ Sgail near Bosta
A walk in the winter landscape
The dogs enjoy their walks whatever the weather!

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