There are only two decent off-road trips on Harris/Lewis, and this one is superb, if you want wilderness, mountain scenery of the highest order, and eagle spotting (golden and sea, if you’re alert). It’s a round trip of nearly 30 miles from Tarbert, therefore could be done between ferries from Skye, but why rush, take your time, there is 4500 ft of climbing, and it took me 5hrs.
Take the road west from Tarbert, turning left on the B887, and at the head of Loch Mhiabhaig go north on a good track for 7km. Just before the impressive cliff of Sron Scourst, tarry a while at the eagle spotting hut. The thing here is that there is a pair of Golden Eagles whose territory is hereabouts, which means you would only see either of them, if you’re lucky, as no other eagles stray into others’ territories. There is better spotting on the descent from Bealach na h Uamha later, where, especially in the mornings, it is no birds’ territory, so all sorts congregate to hunt, usually on the northern ridge. Sea Eagles are very like vultures, wider winged and shorter tailed. An RSPB person does a weekly walk up from near Ardvourlie, and on this, in the morning, we saw dozens of eagles of both types.
At the Loch after 7km, take the track off right just past the fishing lodge. Marked as a path on the map, this is actually a track, not as good as what you’ve arrived on, but rideable all the way if you’re fit enough, except for the first stream crossing. I walked some of the first ascent, and most of the second, from Gleann Langadall. There was a bridge there once, recently washed away, despite the map giving stepping stones. It will be there again soon, this year, according to two men who had been working on it, although the river was not a problem. The descent to the road is fast, so do stop occasionally to see the big birds.
Turn right on the “A” road for home, which involves a fair ascent, at a reasonable gradient, and if you want more off-road, turn left on the minor road to Reinigeadal and do the easy bit of the other Harris MTB loop. As the road curves left take the path, soon becoming a track, boggy in parts but becoming good at the col, which comes out at a “B” road at Urgha, a mile and a half from Tarbert.
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