|From:||Garrynahine (Gearraidh na h-Aibhne) (NB237317)|
|To:||Timsgarry (Timsgearraidh) (NB059342)|
|Distance:||18.3 miles (29.5 km)|
|Meets:||A858, B8059, unclassified|
|Route outline (key)|
The B8011 is the longest B road on Lewis. It runs for 18 miles from Garrynahine (Gearraidh na h-Aibhne), near Callanish (Calanais) out to Timsgarry (Timsgearraidh) in the Uig district. From there, unclassified roads continue for a further 10 miles or so south down the coast, connecting up the other settlements in this remote and sparsely populated part of the island. Our road was originally unclassified but had gained its number by 1932.
A significant amount of work has been carried out in recent years to improve and widen the road, particularly around Gisla (Giosla) and Enaclete (Eanacleit); this has helped to shorten journey times to the Uig District, by replacing a twisty single-track road with a much better aligned S2 carriageway that runs through cuttings and over embankments. Throughout the improvements, the old road is frequently prominent alongside, or visible on the far side of a lochan.
Garrynahine - Timsgarry
This road starts at a junction with the A858 just southeast of Callanish, famous for its standing stones. It initially heads southwest around the head of Loch Ceann Hùlabhaig, crossing empty moorland and then looping around stream mouths as it finds a way through the boggy landscape. An old bridge on the right highlights a longer abandoned loop, with the further end of the old road retained as the start of the minor road out to Linshader (Linsiadar). Half a mile further on the junction with the B8059 is reached.
Continuing south westerly, the B8011 crosses the narrow finger of land between Loch Sgàire and Loch Faoghail am Tuim before resuming its bleak moorland journey. After nearly 3 miles relieved only by some shallow rock cuttings, the road drops sharply to single track - heralded by a black and white chevron sign. Despite the old road running alongside, the road remains single past the turning to Saliscro Lodge and around the bend at Loch Stùrsabhat before reverting to S2.
The road then drops steeply down to cross the Abhainn a Loin at the head of Loch Ròg Beag, while the old road loops to the south, partially retained as an access to the estate. The road now heads north up the west side of the loch, dipping across streams and climbing over low hills before reaching Enaclete, where the village is bypassed by a very recent, high quality stretch of road. Beyond the bypass, however, the road drops quickly to single track again.
A couple of right turns lead down to coastal settlements, and then the road drops into the steep valley running down into Carishader, where it reaches the coast itself. The open sea is hidden by the mass of islands scattered around Loch Ròg, but the views are quite stunning most of the time. Beyond the village, the B8011 briefly climbs inland, before returning to the shore at Miavaig. Here a right turn leads to a very scenic loop around the peninsula, past vast beaches, through scattered villages and over rocky hills.
The turning itself is a modern junction, with the old junction being 200-odd yards further up the chasm-like Gleann Bhaltois - the old road can still be seen on the far side of the stream up to the old bridge. After so many miles of bleak moorland and expansive views, the last couple of miles of the B8011 come as a real surprise. The road twists and turns up a narrow valley, similar to the top of Cheddar Gorge or Burrington Combe, and completely unexpected in this barren wilderness. The Glen tightens, the stream disappears into the peat bog, and then, as a fork in the glen is reached, the road twists off right, winding up and out onto the plateau above - although plateau is not quite right as the landscape is never that flat but after the deep trench of Gleann Bhaltois it feels like a plateau.
There isn't long to enjoy it, however, as the B8011 comes to an end at the first junction, just a couple of hundred yards away. Turning right leads to the various settlements of Uig, whilst right leads south, for 10 or more miles to the very end of the road at Mealasta. If you've come as far as the end of this road, it is highly recommended that you continue and explore these unclassified roads, and all of the surprises that they yield to the visitor.