|Location Map ( geo)
|10.5 miles (16.9 km)
|A857, B8027, Unclassified
|Route outline (key)
The A866 is approximately 10.5 miles long and heads east from Stornoway, past the airport and on to the Eye Peninsula of Lewis. Road signs are bilingual, in English and Gaelic.
The road commences in Stornoway (Steòrnabhagh) at the roundabout near the ferry terminal where Caledonian MacBrayne ferries sail to Ullapool. It heads east as James Street, changing to Sandwick Road at the mini roundabout at the south end of the B8027. The road now passes between the High School and a large industrial area, before crossing another roundabout and finding open fields to the north at least. Induistrial units, houses and then a cemetery continue to line the south side of the road all the way to Sandwick (Sanndabhaig), a village which is now almost a suburb. Beyond Sandwick, the road skirts the southern perimeter of Stornoway Airport, with side turnings to the coastal villages of Holm (Tolm) and Melbost (Mealabost).
Ahead lies what is perhaps the most exciting part of the whole A866 as it becomes the Braigh Road and crosses the narrow isthmus to the Eye Peninsula or Point district of Lewis (An Rubha). The road curves around the back of the beach on the south side of the isthmus, protected by a concrete sea wall, while a narrow strip of lumpy fields obscures the bay to the north. However there are large parking areas allowing visitors to stop and experience this unusual natural landscape. The narrower, eastern end of the isthmus is surmounted by a cemetery, and then the road kinks left to head inland once more.
Entering the Eye Peninsula unclassified roads lead off to the straggling settlements of Eagleton, Aignish (Aiginis), Knock (An Cnoc) and Swordale (Suardail). The houses can be seen strung out in long lines across the hillside on either side of the road, originally laid out in their long crofting plots and with only limited subsequent development away from the long straight roads. The road then passes through awide expanse of marshy moorland, never really rural as there is a scattering of farms and houses along the roadside, as well as a sports pitch. The road then reaches the village of Garrabost, which is sturng along the roadside for about a mile, the long crofting plots stretching off to the north coast, while a side turning heads to Bayble (Pabail) on the south coast. Continuing north east the road climbs to its summit at 74m before dropping into Shulishader (Sulaisisdar).
Beyond the village, an unclassified road heads south east to Seisiadar, and another turns north to Flesherin (Fleisirin) as the A866 enters the village of Aird, and continues on to Portvoller (Port Mholair) Here it turns sharp left, a side road continuing ahead to Tiumpan Head (Rubha an t-Siumpain). There is only a short distance left to go on the A866, as it ends at the edge of Portnaguran (Port nan Guiran), about 500m further north, apparently at the junction with the road to Broker. The road ahead narrows to single track as it continues along the coast. Some older maps suggest the A866 once reached the coast here, but this seems to be an error, as the current end point is more frequently shown.
The A866 is S2 throughout, and seems to have been so for many years. However, there is evidence of improvements in the past, particularly either side of Shulishader, where evidence of an older road can be found in the moorland alongside the current line. West of Shulishader, the road now runs through a shallow cutting with the old road at the top of the bank to the south, while the situation is reversed to the east of the village, with the old road found to the north. In both cases, the old road seems to be overgrown and out of use, and only wide enough for single track traffic. However, whether this is the full width of the old road, or whether it was reduced in width to allow the new road to be built is uncertain.