C79 (Eilean Siar)
|Distance:||20.6 miles (33.2 km)|
The C79, much more commonly known as the Golden Road, runs down the east coast of South Harris, and was built way back in 1897 to connect most of the scattered villages and settlements that lie on the east coast of the island. It gets its name from the significant cost of its construction.
Miavaig - Loch Stockinish
Starting at the northern end, the Golden Road turns off of the A859 a couple of miles south of Tarbert. Whilst single track from the start, there is an older alignment running alongside for the first 500m or so, before the road enters the tiny settlement of Miabhaig. The road gets very close to the shore here, before climbing back up and turning inland past a scattering of lochs and returning to the shore at Drinisiadar. This is a slightly larger village, clustered around a small bay, but houses continue to dot the roadside as we pass through the next village, of Polcropol on the narrow finger of land between the coast of Loch Tarbert and the freshwater Loch Phlocrapoil.
The road follows the loch south, and then curves through the hills as it turns back to the opposite shore, and the village of Scadabhagh. Heading north west and then west through a barren landscape of moorland dotted with small lochans, the road eventually drops into Ghreosabhagh. Here it comes to a give way line, where the right turn leads back, in around 2 miles, to the A859. The Golden Road itself turns left along the shore of Loch Grosebay before climbing inland and dipping into the tiny settlement of Collam. Over more hills, but with stunning views out across the ragged coastline, and the road drops into Cliuthar.
Caolas Stocinis comes next, with a side road leading down to the pretty harbour, still a working fishing port, sheltered by an island. The main road runs north up the coast of Loch Stocinis, home to Seals, who enjoy basking on the rocks. At the head of the loch, another give way line is reached, as another road comes down from the A859. Technically, it is this road and not the coastal road which is the northern part of the C79. The Golden Road then winds around the head of the loch, with a couple of minor improvements, including the substantial new bridge across Loch Saile. Heading south again, the road passes a side turning to Liceasto, before climbing over the hills once more.
Loch Stockinish - Rodel
The road returns to the shore in the village of Geocrab, marking the start of a more built up stretch of coast, running through Beacrabhaic, Aird Shleibhe and Manais both of which straggle down side roads on either side of the picturesque Ob Leasaid a large bay with not a tiny inlet. Curving round Loch Fleoidabhagh, the village of the same name is the last settlement for a while as the road once more climbs over the hills. The landscape is increasingly wet now, with the road winding between a lot of pools, lochans and the sizeable Loch Huamnabhat.
Dropping to the shore once more, a long left turn leads through the village of Cuidhtinis and then the road winds round the head of Loch Fhionnsabhaigh and into Ardvey. Here a right turn leads around the back of Roneval, the highest hill in South Harris, through some deserted glens, but the Golden Road sticks closer to the coast, running through Finsbay, where another side turning leads to Boirseam. Over the hills again to Lingreabhagh which strings out along the final side road along this stunning coast.
There's less than 2 miles left now, winding over the hills for the last time and actually reaching a summit at 68m along the way. After passing a transmitter the road drops steadily, remarkably opening out to S2 for the final sweep down to the A859 at Rodel. Here the A road TOTSOs, so the Golden Road forms the mainline into the A859 and on to Tarbert!
|C79 (Eilean Siar)|