|Distance:||28 miles (45.1 km)|
|Meets:||A859, B8011, A857|
|Former Number(s):||A859, B896|
|Route outline (key)|
The A858 is a C-shaped road on the Isle of Lewis (Leodhas in Gaelic).
The road is approximately 28 miles long and, following an apparent rerouting in 2005, is now two lanes wide throughout. Whether or not the A858 was re-routed does seem uncertain, however. Differing scales of OS maps show the A-road in different places, as do other maps, and none of the signage on the ground seems to have been updated, making it difficult to know the precise route of the A858 east of the fork at Acha Mòr. Perhaps both routes are now the A858, one being a rather lengthy spur. Signage along the route is mainly in Gaelic, although some signs are bi-lingual.
Before the re-routing in 2005, the road commenced in Stornoway, but even this start is disputed. Historically the A858 seems to have started on the A857 at what is now the roundabout on MacAuley Road. However, an old, tatty RCS further down the road suggests that the start had been moved back, and the A859 extended to the A857, leaving the A858 starting in the Marybank district of Steòrnabhagh (Stornoway), from where it headed west as a single-track across open moorland covered with numerous lochans, meeting the Pentland Road (Rathad Phentland, at one time this was the B8010), and then turned to head south west to Acha Mòr.
Liurbost - Carlabhagh
Assuming that the re-routing did take place, the road 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, after 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 was 'single track with passing spaces'. The A858 therefore no longer has a TOTSO in Acha Mòr!
From Acha Mòr we are now definitely on the A858, which 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 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 the A858 passes two entrances to the village of Breascleit (Breasclete), and meets the Pentland Road (Rathad Phentland, at one time this was the B8010). Continuing north it passes two entrances to Tolastadh Chaolais (Tolsta Chaolais) and an unclassified road to Dun Chàrlabhaigh (Dun Carloway), home to a remarkably well preserved broch in a stunning location overlooking Loch Roag.
Carlabhagh - Barabhas
Turning now to head north east it passes through Cirbhig, and then Càrlabhagh (Carloway), Lord Leverhulme's proposed fishing port, a branch road from here leads to the formerly ruined and deserted blackhouse village of Gearrannan (Garenin), now an interesting museum and holiday cottages. Continuing north east it meets another junction with the Pentland Road (Rathad Phentland, at one time this was the B8012), which is technically a small GSJ, as the Pentland Road passes underneath the A road, and has links on both sides. This is down to the lower road running along the line of a proposed Railway Line from Carloway to Stornoway.
Continuing through Carloway the A858 passes an unclassified road to Dail Mòr (Dalmore), an unclassified road to Dail Beag (Dalbeg), then passes through Siabost bho Deas (South Shawbost), and Siabost (Shawbost). Continuing north east it passes an unclassified road to Siabost bho Thuath (North Shawbost), an unclassified road to Labost, and through the village of Bràgar, where the remains of a broch lie in the loch to the right, and then a 20-ft-high arch made from the huge jaw bone of a giant Blue Whale forms an impressive entrance to a local house on the left.
Heading still north east the road passes through Arnol, with its Black House Museum (an unmissable visit for anyone wanting to understand a way of life once widespread in Lewis), passes an unclassified road to Brù (Brue), 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 A857 actually turns a little to the west of the junction.
The original route of the road in the Stornoway area is explained above.
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 along what had become the B896 to Barabhas in 1935.