|Location Map ( geo)
|28 miles (45.1 km)
|A859, B8011, A857
|Route outline (key)
The A858 is a C-shaped road on the Isle of Lewis (Leodhas in Gaelic). It is approximately 28 miles long and, following the rerouting in 2005, is now two lanes wide throughout as it serves the scattered communities of west Lewis.
Liurbost - Carlabhagh
Since the A858 was re-routed, it now starts on the A859 some seven miles southwest of Stornoway near the small settlement of Liurbost (Leorbost). From here it heads west along a previously unclassified road before meeting the old route about three miles later, at Acha Mòr (Achmore), the first real settlement on the route. The change of course is no great surprise as the new alignment was widened to two lanes some years ago whereas the old route remained as 'single track with passing spaces', and traffic had been directed along the wider road before it was renumbered. The A858 therefore no longer has a TOTSO in Acha Mòr!
From Acha Mòr the A858 follows the route assigned to it in 1922 as it heads west as an S2 road passing through Loch a'Ghainmhich (Lochganvich), and across roughly 3 miles of open moorland to Gearraidh na h-Aibhne (Garynahine). The road is reasonably straight, albeit rather bumpy, and offers some amazing views south across the barren wasteland of central Lewis, stretching across a tangle of lochs before the distant hills of North Harris start rising through the mist in the distance. At Garynahine the B8011 to the Uig district of Lewis and Bearnaraigh (Great Bernera) turns off to the south. Continuing north from here along the A858 it is just a short distance to the scattered village of Calanais (Callanish); the area around Calanais is home to over 20 monuments erected between 3000 and 4000 years ago, including the famous Callanish standing stones, and is a major tourist attraction on Lewis.
Heading north, now, the A858 is running along above the shore of the island studded Loch Rog an Ear (Loch Roag), with Great Berenera on the opposite side. In the village of Breascleit (Breasclete), it meets the Pentland Road (Rathad Phentland, formerly the B8010), before turning a little inland to pass the village of Tolastadh Chaolais (Tolsta Chaolais). Turning further away from the shore, the road passes through a lumpy bumpy moorland landscape, with small lochs filling many of the hollows, but only Loch an Dunain lies on the roadside. Shortly after the loch, the road enters Dun Chàrlabhaigh (Dun Carloway), home to a remarkably well preserved broch in a stunning location overlooking Loch Roag. After the turning for the broch, the road swings eastwards through Cirbhig (Kirivick) into the larger village of Càrlabhagh (Carloway)
Carlabhagh - Barabhas
Carloway was proposed to be a fishing port by Lord Leverhulme when he owned the island around a century ago, a branch road from here leads to the formerly ruined and deserted blackhouse village of Gearrannan (Garenin), now an interesting museum and holiday cottages. There is another junction with the Pentland Road (Rathad Phentland, formerly the B8012) alongside Carloway Bridge over the Abhainn Charlabhaigh, which is technically a small GSJ, as the Pentland Road passes underneath the A road. This is because the lower road runs along the line of a proposed Railway Line from Carloway to Stornoway.
Continuing north east from Carloway, the A858 winds across the moorland passing unclassified roads to Dail Mòr (Dalmore), and Dail Beag (Dalbeg), but there are only a handful of properties seen along the roadside. The approach to the Dalbeg junction is particularly dramatic, with the sea out on the horizon as the road is cut into the hillside of Ben Guidamol. Without reaching the sea, the road turns round the end of the hill to snake along the south shore of Loch Raoinebhat. The next few miles are almost urban in places, as the road passes through a long series of villages, with houses scattered along the roadside and more densely lining the side roads stretching north to the coast. The first is Siabost bho Deas (South Shawbost), then Siabost (Shawbost) and Siabost bho Thuath (North Shawbost). Then, as it meanders gently between lochs an unclassified road turn north to Labost, while the A858 continues east through the larger village of Bràgar, where the remains of a broch lie in the loch to the right. However, the most striking thing is Bragar is a 20-ft-high arch made from the huge jaw bone of a giant Blue Whale, which forms an impressive entrance to a house on the left.
Heading still north east the road crosses Arnol Bridge and passes through Arnol, with its Black House Museum (an unmissable visit for anyone wanting to understand a way of life once widespread in Lewis), and then passes the head of Loch Urghag as it leaves the scattered villages behind for a time. An unclassified road turns north to Brù (Brue), and soon after the A858 crosses Barvas Bridge and comes to an end at a junction with A857 at Barabhas (Barvas). Whilst this looks as if it should be a TOTSO on maps, the bend in the A857 actually lies immediately to the north of the junction.
According to the 1922 Road Lists, the A858 originally only ran from Stornoway to Calanais, from where the original course of the A859 continued to Barabhas and the A857. When the A859 was moved in the late 1920s, the A858 was cut back to Gearraidh na h-Aibhne but it was extended again, along what had briefly become the B896, to Barabhas in 1935.
The original start of the A858 was on the A857 in Stornoway, forking left along Willowglen Road. The actual junction doesn't seem to have changed much, but the first part of Willowglen Road is now one-way northbound. It is not entirely clear when the route was diverted along Perceval Road South, possibly it never was, and it was only when the A858 was re-routed in 2005 that the A859 was directed to the roundabout. To further confuse matters, an old, tatty RCS further down the road suggests that the start had been moved back much earlier, and the A859 extended to the A857. However, it is possible that the short section of Willowglen Road remained as the A858, or Perceval Road South was the A859 after a short multiplex.
The A858 then originally left Stornoway by cutting across the industrial estate in the Marybank district of Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway), to follow the eastern end of the Pentland Road (Rathad Phentland). This single track road is now unclassified, and cuts across the moors, forking off the Pentland Road (the continuation is the former B8010), and heading south west to the former TOTSO junction at Acha Mor.