Machair Path, South Uist
Start location: A865 (NF 795 459)
End location: Crossdougal (NF 754 201)
Geographical area: Western Isles
Path Type: Rural Path
Path distance: 35km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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We don't have a full survey of this route, but it should be straightforward and accessible for the most part. However the north section is part of a Ministry of Defence firing range, so access is restricted from time to time. Red flags will appear at path ends and red lights will flash when in use - notices are also placed in local settlements.
South of Howmore, the machair path is being discovered by many more passers by as part of the Hebridean Way, a newly funded long-distance route for walkers and cyclists.
OS Landranger 31 (Barra & South Uist) & 22 (Benbecula & South Uist)
The great road engineer William Bald (1789-1857) surveyed South Uist in 1805; the resultant plan showed this road as the main route through the island. On Bald's map, the route stops just short of Loch Bee as it approaches from the south, and then reappears at Cill Amhlaidh, but other than that missing section the old road is shown entirely - in fact it is drawn as continuing south to Kilbride, just east of Pollachar. However later that century, the Ordnance Survey surveyed South Uist and noted the current road as being more important than the old road of Bald's map. It is likely then that the 19th century saw the transition from this old track being the main road to the spinal road that is currently used.
The machair path passes close by the ancient ecclesiastical settlement of Howmore (Tobha Mor). Beside the ruins, the Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust has run a hostel in a thatched cottage since 1966.