The Eoligarry peninsula is located in the northern region of the Isle of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
This enchanting area is a spectacle of natural beauty as well as a treasure trove of history. The peninsula offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Fuday and Fiaraidh islands from Eolaigearraidh Beach, and the 1.3-mile Traigh Eais Beach is regarded as one of the finest in the Outer Hebrides.
In this article, you’ll embark on an unforgettable journey through the Eoligarry Peninsula to uncover exactly what makes it such a must-visit destination.
|Address:||Isle of Barra, HS9 5YD|
|Opening Hours:||The Eoligarry peninsula is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.|
|Parking:||Free public car parking area next to Barra Airport, Eoligarry harbour, and St. Barr's Church.|
|Facilities:||Vending machines, toilets, and cafe in Barra Airport.|
The Isle of Barra on the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides is one of Scotland’s most underappreciated gems. Covering just 8×5 miles, this pretty wee island is home to some of the country’s finest beaches as well as a stunning rugged coastline and a surprising number of hills and even a couple of woodlands – something that’s virtually unheard of elsewhere in the Western Isles.
Though many visitors arrive simply to pass straight through it on a tour of the Hebridean Way, there’s one particular area that’s more than worthy of spending a little extra time on Barra, and that’s the Eoligarry peninsula located on the far northern tip of the island.
Eoligarry is accessed from the main A888 ring road not far from Ardmhor where many tourists head for the ferry that’ll take them on their next leg of the Hebridean Way.
Continuing past Ardmhor is a must-do for visitors to Barra as this is the start of the Eoligarry peninsula which is marked by the jaw-dropping expanse of Traigh Mhor Beach.
If you don’t already know, Traigh Mhor is the location of Barra Airport which is famous for being the world’s only beach airfield for scheduled flights. That makes it a tourist attraction in its own right, drawing crowds of people throughout the day who wait patiently to snap a photo of the aircraft each time it makes an inbound flight from Glasgow.
Though the beach is nothing short of spectacular, it’s only possible to walk on it when there are no flights incoming so I personally recommend heading across the machair to the western side of the Eoligarry peninsula to walk along Traigh Eais beach instead.
Once there you’ll find 1.5 miles of pristine white sand backed by shallow turquoise waters, all behind grass-covered dunes that are bordered on either end by sea caves and cliffs.
Those visitors who want to continue further north past Traigh Eais will be able to do so by car and bicycle thanks to a minor road that winds its way almost to the far northern tip of the peninsula, though it should be noted that parking spaces are few and far between.
The road is narrow and so are the verges, so the best option is to leave the car either at one of the campsites at Scurrival which have paid parking, or at one of the free spaces at Eoligarry Harbour, St. Barr’s Church, or at the designated public parking area at the airport.
Of these options, I recommend heading to the harbour as although there’s only space for around five cars it’s close to the beautiful Eoligearraidh Beach which is one of the most scenic coastal areas I’ve found to date in the Western Isles, rivalling even Luskentyre beach on Harris, in my opinion.
From the jetty at the harbour, you’ll have great views of Fuday to the north with Eriskay and South Uist on the horizon, while heading around the sweeping expanse of the beach heading west offers amazing views of the islet of Fiaraidh.
It’s difficult to describe exactly where these islands are without going into unnecessary detail so I recommend taking a look at the Google map further up this page to get your bearings.
Walking through Eoligarry
The best way to explore Eoligarry is on foot. A walk through the peninsula allows you to fully appreciate the scenic beauty and historical significance of the area, so the following section will provide a recommended route through Eoligarry after enjoying the beaches of Traigh Mhor and Traigh Eais.
1: (1.5 miles) The Eoligarry walk begins at the airport on the peninsula’s east side. The initial part of the walk is along the road, which isn’t much of an issue as the roads in the area are extremely quiet.
There are a few inclines, but on the whole the road is easy to walk on and has great views of the sea across the fields. When you get to the top of the hill past the school, veer left and continue to St. Barr’s Church.
2: Spend some time looking around Cille Bharra, also known as St. Barr’s Church. This is the final resting place of Compton MacKenzie, the author of Whisky Galore and it’s also the location of the Kilbar Stone which is a Viking gravestone that’s unusual in having both Nordic runes and Christian symbols carved on it.
3: (1.5 miles) Continue along the road till you face a beach at the point where the road bends 90° to the north. A signpost points towards the Eoligarry Trail where a short climb up a hill takes you to Dun Sgurabhal which is the remains of an Iron Age fort. The fort offers breathtaking views across South Uist, Eriskay, and the Eoligarry peninsula’s beaches.
4: (0.5 miles) From the fort, the journey continues across some rough terrain before ascending to Beinn Eolaigearry, the highest summit on the peninsula. The view from the top is outstanding, especially if you’re lucky enough to arrive at the same time as the plane lands on Traigh Mhor.
5: (1 mile) The descent from the summit heading west leads to the white sands of Traigh Eais where you can walk along the beach, then cross over the machair to get back to the airport where you can enjoy a snack at the café.
1: The Eoligarry Peninsula is home to Traigh Eais, an awe-inspiring, pristine beach known for its vast expanse of white sand and crystal-clear waters.
The beach is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, so visiting with a pair of binoculars (link to reviews) is highly recommended. A stroll along this tranquil beach, especially during sunset, is an unforgettable experience and one of the highlights of any trip to Barra.
2: The Eoligarry Peninsula is steeped in history, and nowhere is this more evident than at Uamh An Duin (Scurrival Cave).
The cave is located halfway down the cliff between Dun Scurrival (the crumbling remains of an Iron Age fort) and the northern end of Traigh Eais Beach. The cave is believed to have been home to people in the Mesolithic era between 4,000 and 11,000 years ago.
3: Established in the 12th century, Cille Bharra Church is a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the Eoligarry Peninsula.
The church is dedicated to St. Barr, a 7th-century monk who gave his name to the island. Of particular interest is the graveyard which has a simple stone cross marking the grave of the famous Scottish author Compton MacKenzie.
1: The Eoligarry Peninsula is located in a remote part of the Isle of Barra, hence public transport options are limited. Hiring a car would be a wise choice for visitors flying into Barra Airport as it provides flexibility to explore the picturesque landscapes at your own pace. Barra Car Hire (01871890313) will deliver to the airport free of charge.
2: Eoligarry is known for its pristine beaches, especially Eolaigearraidh Beach which is a must-visit location for bird watchers. For breathtaking panoramic views, don’t miss the highest point on the peninsula, Beinn Eolaigearraidh Mhor, or the islet of Orosay which can be walked to when the tide at Traigh Mhor Beach is out.
3: As in any part of the Outer Hebrides, the locals on the Isle of Barra are proud of their Gaelic heritage. Many locals speak both English and Gaelic so learning a few Gaelic phrases is a good way to make new friends. The island is also predominantly Catholic, so be respectful of local religious customs, particularly on Sundays.
Things to do
Experience Eoligarry Beach: This impressive beach stretches around the northeast tip of the peninsula for 2 miles from the harbour to the Croft Number 2 camp site. With its white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters, it’s the perfect destination for a leisurely beach walk.
Climb to the top of Beinn Sgurabhal: This viewpoint is located on one of the highest points of Eoligarry. Its peaceful setting and panoramic sea views make it a great place to go for a walk and it sees far fewer people than the more well-known Heaval Hill, so it’s a great destination for anyone looking for peace and quiet.
Birdwatching at Eoligarry Harbour: The jetty at Eoligarry is a haven for birdwatchers as it has a small car parking area with great views of the surrounding islands. View a variety of bird species including gannets, terns, and oystercatchers, or go for a walk along the sand dunes and keep watch for dolphins and otters.
Explore Dun Sgurabhal: This is the remnant of an Iron Age hill fort that offers breathtaking views across the sea to South Uist and Eriskay. A hike there can be extended by following marker posts across rough ground to Beinn Eolaigearry which is the highest summit on the peninsula at 345 feet.
Fishing in Eoligarry: The waters around the Eoligarry peninsula are teeming with different types of fish so it’s an ideal destination for anyone who loves fishing. There are plenty of areas that are suitable for pitching a tent and the shoreline offers lots of places to dig for bait.
Eoligarry’s Holy History: Eoligarry is steeped in religious history, with remnants of an ancient Christian monastery dating back to the 6th century. It’s known as St Barr’s Church, named after the patron saint of Barra.
Airport On The Beach: The Isle of Barra hosts the world’s only airport where scheduled flights land on a beach. In Eoligarry, you can watch Twin Otter aircraft landing and taking off from Traigh Mhòr beach.
Intriguing Name Origins: The name ‘Eoligarry’ is derived from the Old Norse language, which suggests the area was once inhabited by the Vikings. The name translates roughly as ‘Eola’s farm’.
A Geologist’s Paradise: The area is renowned for its unique geology, with rocks dating back to the Neoproterozoic Era. The Barra Greenstone Belt, a geological formation, provides a window into Earth’s ancient past.
Important Bird Area: Eoligarry is recognized as an Important Bird Area due to its habitat for breeding waders, including the dunlin and the ringed plover.
Stunning Landscapes: From the sandy beaches to the rugged hills, Eoligarry offers breathtaking scenery. The highest point, Beinn Eolaigearraidh, is 105 metres and provides a panoramic view of the surrounding islands.
Things to do nearby
1: Sea Kayak to Fuday and Fiaraidh.
These two uninhabited islands are located to the east and north of Traigh Mhor Beach. Of the two, Fuday is the easiest to paddle to as it’s just 0.7 miles from a jetty on the northeast corner of the Eoligarry peninsula.
Fiaraidh can be accessed from the northern tip of the peninsula from Eoligarry Beach, opposite the Scurrival campsite. It’s possible to park at the campsite for a fee if you’re not a guest.
2: Barra Island Tours. Tel 01787 810255 or 0797 2375494
Visitors flying into Barra Airport can book a tour that will pick them up directly from the terminal and then take them around the sights of Barra and Vatersay to see both island’s highlights, from the castle at Castlebay on Barra to the WWII ‘Catalina’ weck on Vatersay.
3: Northbay. Address: Isle of Barra, HS9 5YQ.
A picturesque footpath starts near Loch an Duin on the northeast corner of the A888 which passes through open moorland before taking a detour over hills and finally finishing back on the A888 south of Northbay.
Walking back to Loch an Duin on the A888 takes visitors through the quaint coastal village of Northbay which is home to a cafe (ideal for a post-walk cuppa) and the island’s community garden centre.
4: Hebridean Way.
The Hebridean Way is a 185-mile touring route that spans the inhabited islands of the Outer Hebrides, starting on the Isle of Vatersay and finishing on the Isle of Lewis.
Visitors to Barra can complete the first stage by setting off from Vatersay, crossing the causeway, and following the A888 around Barra to the village of Ardmhor where they can then catch a ferry to the Isle of Eriskay.
5: Day Trip to Eriskay. Address: Ardmhor, HS9 5YB.
From the ferry terminal at Ardmhor on Barra, it’s possible to hop on a Calmac ferry and take a short sail north to the beautiful Isle of Eriskay which is famed for its wild ponies and rugged coastline. For travellers making the voyage with a car or a bike, the causeway on the northern end of the island allows access to South Uist which has some stunning beaches on its western side.
Frequently asked questions
How do you get to the Isle of Barra?
There are two travel routes to get to the Isle of Barra.
The first is to take a scheduled flight from Glasgow to Barra Airport with the carrier Loganair.
The second travel route is to take a Calmac ferry which operates from Castlebay on Barra to Oban on the mainland and the islands of Tiree and South Uist.
An alternative Calmac ferry operates between the Isle of Eriskay and Ardmhor on Barra.
What is the main town on Barra?
The main town on the island of Barra is Castlebay. The village is the largest settlement on the island and is home to Barra’s only supermarket as well as a distillery and a harbour.
Do you need a car on Barra?
No, you don’t necessarily need a car on the Isle of Barra. The island is relatively small, about 8 miles long and 5 miles wide, which makes it perfect for exploring on foot or by bike. It also has a local bus service that can take you around the island. However, having a car can provide more flexibility to visit remote areas at your own pace. It’s also worth noting that car hire is available on the island if you decide you need one once you’re there.
Which Scottish island do you land on the beach?
The island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland has the world’s only scheduled plane landing at Traigh Mhor Beach.
Due to the fact that Traigh Mhor is tidal, planes can only land twice a day when the tide is out.