Rhenigidale Post Road
Start location: road to Scalpay, east of Urgha Beag, North Harris (NB 184 004)
End location: Rhenigidale, North Harris (NB 228 017)
Geographical area: Western Isles
Path Type: Rural Path
Path distance: 6.5km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Newsflash (September 2016): the post road featured in BBC Alba's series Kerry 's Kirsty: Rothan gu Robhanais - the story of a mountain biking trip from Vatersay to Lewis. It includes an interview with Kenny MacKay, the last Rhenigidale postman to use this route. Despite the route featuring in this mountain biking documentary, cycling the route is not recommended for the inexperienced - Kerry and Kirsty MacPhee are competition standard mountain bikers! If you'd like to watch the programme, be quick, it's being repeated, but is only back on the iplayer until 4th October.
This is a good graded path climbing steadily from Urgha Beag then descending to Loch Trollamarig by a series of very steep zigzags where care is required. There is some erosion on the steep parts on either side of Loch Trollamarig, but otherwise this is a good path and well used - mainly these days by walkers accessing the Gatliff Hostel at Rhenigidale.
A spur to Molinginish, an abandoned village with two restored holiday cottages, leads off at NB205008. This steadily descends to sea level, but is slightly boggy in places. The alternative, the "sheep track" which runs from Molinginish to Loch Trollamarig to rejoin the Rhenigidale track, is over steep slopes and is wet and slippery - it is not advised, especially in or after wet weather. Instead, ascend via the spur to NB205008, then descend the steep zigzag path to Loch Trollamarig as described above in order to head towards Rhenigidale.
OS Landranger 14 (Tarbert & Loch Seaforth)
This route is known as the post road because the Rhenigidale postie used this route to get to Tarbert to fetch and deliver the mail three times a week. It was the only land access to Rhenigidale until 1990 when the new tarmac road came in from Maruig. The teacher used to be brought in daily by boat. Mains electricity only arrived in Rhenigidale in 1980, the wooden pylons had to be lifted in by helicopter.
The hostel at Rhenigidale was the first set up by Herbert Gatliff, in 1962. The owner and first warden was Roddy MacInnes, he and others dreamt that the public road would one day reach Rhenigidale and so save the settlement from desertion. He lived to see work on the road start.
For more information about the Rhenigidale Hostel and the work of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust, visit www.gatliff.org.uk. A fascinating book Walks From The Gatliff Hostel at Reinigeadal (Neil Pinkett, 2000) is highly recommended.