|To:||Lochboisdale (Loch Baghasdail) (NF795192)|
|Former Number(s):||B888, B889|
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
|Route outline (key)|
Route: South Uist (Uibhist a Deas)
South Uist is the largest of the Uist chain of islands, but not as densely populated as Benbecula to the north. The west coast of the island is largely flat, with long sandy beaches backed by dunes and lochan-studded machair. The east is very different, with a range of hills climbing up to the summit of Beinn Mhòr, at 620 m the highest point in the Uists.
In 1922, the main road south across the island was numbered as the B888, with the B889 turning east into Lochboisdale at Daliburgh. However, the lack of an A road in the Uists was soon seen as a mistake, and the A865 number was quickly allocated, perhaps as early as 1923, to connect Lochmaddy on North Uist with Lochboisdale on South Uist, leaving a very much shorter B888 on its present route south from Daliburgh.
Iochdar - Loch Eynort
The S2 A865 makes landfall on South Uist at Càrnan, near Iochdar, after crossing the South Ford Causeway. The old single-track road is clearly visible to the west of the modern road, paralleling it for roughly a mile past the turning to Iochdar proper. The landscape of the north of the island is one of a mass of lochs and lochans, almost more water than land, and the A865 has to cross Loch an Os before the left turn to Loch a' Charnain, and the scattered settlement beyond.
After about a mile of single track, the much longer Loch Bee Causeway is crossed. This is S2, with car parks at the northern end of the causeway. Beyond, the village of Gerinish (Geirinis) lies off to the right, and then the road drops back to single track as it curves around the low hill of Ruabhal, with the prominent 'Our Lady of the Isles' statue on the western flank. More observant travellers will also notice a number of roadside shrines on South Uist, highlighting the strong Catholic heritage of the island.
The B890 heads east just past the hill on its lonely, and almost pointless journey to Loch Sgioport. Continuing south, there are now several miles with only right (west) turns, leading to the scattered communities of the Machair. These include Stilligarry (Stadhlaigearraidh), Dramsdale (Dreumasdal), Howmore (Tobha Mòr) and Howbeg (Tobha Beag), all of which just about stretch east to the A865.
The road has alternated between single-track and S2, with a few more short causewayed sections across or around lochans. However, about a mile south of Howbeg the road opens out to a good modern two-way alignment, again with evidence of the old single-track road to the west, particularly at the turning to Stonebridge (Staoinebrig). Another mile or so to the south and a crossroads is reached, right to Ormacleit and left to Loch Eynort (Loch Aineort), which almost bisects the island.
Loch Eynort - Lochboisdale
Loch Eynort separates Beinn Mhòr from the lower hills to the south, and also roughly marks the halfway point of the island. The road remains S2 for another mile or so to Bornish (Bornais), where it reaches a very new section (under construction September 2013) which unusually sees the old road off to the east of the new road. Dropping back to single track at Kildonan (Cill Donnain), Flora MacDonald's Birthplace, with a small museum nearby, the road continues through Mingarry (Mingearraidh) and Askernish (Aisgernis), where it once more becomes wider.
Then at last we reach something approaching a village at Daliburgh (Dalabrog). Here are a school, supermarket, hotel and a former hospital. The B888 also turns off here or, to be more precise, continues southwards while the A865 turns left, heading east through North Lochboisdale (Ceann a Tuath Loch Baghasdail) for Lochboisdale (Loch Baghasdail) itself. Lochboisdale is the island's Ferry Port, connecting to Oban, and possibly in the future to Mallaig. There is a tourist office, bank, shops and hotel.