North Ford Causeway
|North Ford Causeway|
|Location Map ( geo)|
|Comhairle nan Eilean Siar|
|Crossings related to the A865|
Crossing from Benbecula to North Uist, this causeway is touted as the longest in the Western Isles. However, as it jumps between islands, it is not a continuous causeway! The full route between the two main islands is about 4 miles, linking about 7 islands of varying sizes, and crossing three bridges along the way. Two of the bridges are large enough to allow small boats through.
The North Ford
Before the causeway opened, boats plied the channel at High tide, and at low tide it was possible to walk across.
However, with four miles of potentially treacherous sand to cross in at most 2 hours, it was a risky business. A number of local men worked as guides, tracing the route between cairns, but after winter storms they often had to find a new route.
Opened by the Queen Mother in 1960, the Causeway brought new hope to the communities that it served, and meant that vehicles could now cross with ease, rather than relying on ferry boats. This was probably the first step from boat to car as the main transport method in this part of the Western Isles.
When opened, the causeway was entirely single track, with 9 passing places per mile. However, work is has recently been undertaken to upgrade several sections to full S2, the remainder due to be improved in the coming years. Much of the route across the intermediate islands is now complete, and some of the causeway sections have also been done.
Starting at Cairinis on North Uist, the A865 heads south east along a finger of land before reaching the first causeway section. This stretches over to Garbh-Eilean, using a midway rocky islet along the way. A very short causeway then links to Eilean a'Ghiorr, and so far there have been no bridges, or even culverts through the causeway as far as can be ascertained at high tide! The next section, across to Grimsay does, however, include a bridge which, despite improvements to either side, is still currently single track.
The Island of Grimsay is a sizeable island, and the ring road around the island is about 5 miles long. However, the A865 just cuts the corner of the island, crossing in about 700m! A series of very short causeways link across the rocks to the small island of Eilean na h-Airigh. This is the last of the proper islands used by the Causeway, and so the last half mile or so is mostly causeway, using just a couple of rocks as it turns the final corner to approach Benbecula. There are two more bridges on this section, and again both remain single-track despite upgrades to either side.
|North Ford Causeway|