Licensed mini-marts are available at the Clachan Stores (1 mile), and Bayhead Shop (2 miles). Larger self-service food stores include the Co-op at Sollas (open until 10.00 pm Mon-Sat) and MacLennan’s and Lovat’s (the former NAAFI / SPAR) situated in Balivanich (5 miles) on Benbecula. There is also a large Co-op in Broadford Isle of Skye.
Things - to - Do
Four freshwater rods are provided in Tigh-na-Mara. There are two estates under the control of North Uist Angling Club – Balranald Estate and Newton Estate. Balranald Estate has Brown Trout, Sea Trout and Salmon; Newton Estate has Brown Trout only For further information on the North Uist Angling Club please contact Mr Philip Harding, Secretary (tel. 01876-580 341).
Archaeology and History
The Uists have been occupied for over 8,000 years. Langass has one of the best-preserved Neolithic chambered cairns (4,000 years old) and stone circle. There are other sites at Udal (near Sollas - 3,000 years old) and Carinish. Other interesting archaeological sites include Teampull na Trianaid (Trinity Temple) in Carinish – a centre of ecclesiastical learning in mediaeval times and arguably Scotland’s first University – and Scolpaig tower (1830) and Dun Torcuill.
For a perfect day trip and visitors willing to take the short car-ferry journey from Berneray to Harris & Lewis, you must visit the fabulous fifteenth centure St.Clements Church in Rodel, Harris, or Eaglais Roghadail in Gaelic (Eaglais being Gaelic for church). We ourselves have ancestors who were the tax officers there back in the mid 1800's, not popular perhaps? Then drive to Lewis to see the mysterious standing stones at Calanish ' An Ancient Center of Power'. This is the Hebrides’ Stonehenge but older, having been constructed in around 3,000 BC and pre-dating the Egyptian pyramids, the nearby well-preserved 2,000 year-old Carloway Broch is also worth a visit. The distance from Leverburgh ferry port to Carloway is about 60 miles so a one-day outing is possible. We have done this 1 day trip ourselves and recommend.
North Uist is a haven for bird enthusiasts; the machair is home to many breeding birds, the elusive but vocal corncrake, dunlin, ringed plover, redshank and curlew. Further inland white-tailed sea eagles, owls and snipe can all be seen. If you are very lucky, you may see a golden eagle high in the sky. The internationally-renowned RSPB reserve is located at Balranald about 7 km north of Tigh-na-Mara. Closer to home in the field which is just across the street from Tigh-Na-Mara there are often short-eared owl sitting on the fence posts or flying around. Last spotted April 2017!
The “Lady Anne” is licenced for up to 12 people and operates out of Kallin Harbour, Grimsay, HS6 5HY. Trips to east and west coasts of North Uist (inluding the Monach Isles, known locally as “Heisgeir”). Heisgeir is the largest seal breeding colony in the EU, home to around 30,000 animals including about 8,500 seal pups. Inside seating, toilet and free tea and coffee are available. Two-hour trips start from £20 (under 16s £10
The flat, sandy coastal plain, which stretches down the western fringes of the Uists is known as the machair. It is considered to be unique in terms of the rich plant and bird life it contains.
Canoeing / Kayaking
Available at the Uist Outdoor Centre in Lochmaddy. The Centre has been selected as a Nordkapp Trust Expedition Centre.
For kids wishing to experience the joys of camping under the magnificent stars visible from North Uist, a 4-person tent + 3 sleeping bags are provided for use in the secure environment of the rear garden. They are stored in the cupboard in the “MacDonald” bedroom.
Four mountain bicycles are provided – adult male & female + teenage/small adult male & female. Helmets are also available
People in the Hebrides are probably more conscious of their ancestry than almost any other community. This is the original home and heartland of many famous clans and records going back many generations have been meticulously preserved. In particular, North Uist was largely populated by a branch of the MacDonald clan. Visitors interested in family trees are welcome at the “Co Leis Thu” genealogical resource based in the Salaam! Visitor Centre in the neighbouring island of Harris - contact Bill Lawson, Northton.
Two full sets of golf clubs with trolley are provided. There are three golf courses within driving reach. (1) There is an 18-tee 9-hole par 6,431 yards course at Balivanich on the neighbouring island of Benbecula. Green fees are £10 per round or per day.
Riding, including lessons, is available from Uist Community Riding School near the airport in Balivanich on Benbecula. Tel. Stables: 01870-602 808, Yard Manager home: 01870-602 816.
The building housing Taigh Chearsabhagh Arts Centre & Museum, Lochmaddy, was built in 1741 on the site of a salt-factory - probably constructed in the mid-1600s to service the 400 herring fishing boats using Lochmaddy harbour
Painting & Photography
The scenery and lighting of the Hebrides provide wonderful components for both landscapes and seascapes. An easel is kept in Tigh-na-Mara. However, please bring your own pencils, pens, crayons and paints!
Sea-bathing is possible at the rear of the house. Generally the beach is safe but, like all flat beaches in the Hebrides, the incoming tide can advance quite quickly over the sand. Two excellent beaches are located the west coast of North Uist. One – Tràigh Stir beach - is at Hosta (turn left when leaving Tigh-na-Mara. The other beach is at Baleshare. There is an indoor swimming pool at the Liniclete Community School (Sgoil Lionacleit), Benbecula. An inflatable children’s paddling pool is stored in Le Garage for supervised use in the back garden.
It is possible to take a day trip to visit the 5,000 year-old Calanais standing stones and Carloway Broch in Lewis by taking the Berneray-Leverburgh ferry. The drive from Leverburgh to Calanais Visitor Centre / Tearoom will take about 1¾ hours. Carloway Broch is about 10 minutes further. It is also possible to take the new causeway from South Uist to Eriskay and then the small car ferry to Barra. In summer, booking is again strongly advised.
North Uist’s varied terrain makes it a wonderful place for walking for people of all abilities. Explore alone or guided by the Countryside Ranger on set walks. Contact the Ranger at 07771-729 4159 (mobile). There are established trails in Berneray, Balranald, Langass and Lochmaddy – all suitable for beginners. Langass Woods hosts the monument to Hercules the Bear who roamed free in North Uist for three weeks in 1980 while filming a Kleenex TV advert.
Water and Adventure Sports
The Uist Outdoor Centre in Lochmaddy (tel. 01876-500 480) offers sea kayaking, rock climbing, abseiling, boat trips, hill and coastal walking, wildlife watch, scuba diving, coasteering, surf kayaking, rubber tubing & power boat courses. There are also active sailing and canoeing clubs in North Uist.
Otters can be seen around the coast particularly on a rising tide. “Otter Walks” are arranged during the summer months. (Usually meet Langass Lodge Hotel car park on Wednesdays at 10.00 – check local information or RSPB web-site.) Grey seals are very common; an excellent viewing point is from Berneray.
Available Indoor Leisure Activities at Tigh-na-Mara
“Le Garage” is an ideal hangout for young (and not-so-young) adults. Darts and table tennis are available, as is foosball (table football). For the less energetic, various board games e.g. Scrabble, Trivial Pursuits, Trivial Golf Pursuits, chess, draughts and jigsaws are supplied.
Essentials of Life & Other Things
There is a Pay Phone in Tigh-na-Mara
The nearest airport is at Balivanich (airline code BEB) on Benbecula about 9 miles from Tigh-na-Mara heading south on the A865. There are flights to Glasgow, Stornoway, Barra and Inverness (via Stornoway). The airport telephone number is 01870-602051. Arrival information is available on BBC1 Teletext (CEEFAX) page 456.
Banks (including ATMs) are located at Balivanich (Benbecula) and Lochmaddy.
Car Ferries to the mainland are located at Lochmaddy (to Uig in Skye) and at Lochboisdale (to Oban). A small car ferry to Leverburgh in Harris runs from Berneray. All three ferries are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne and detailed information can be obtained from Lochmaddy Ferry Terminal (01876-500 337) or from www.calmac.co.uk Reservations are a MUST during Summer months.
Shops and Mobile Shops
Small licensed mini-marts are available at the Bayhead Shop (2 miles) and Clachan Stores (1 mile). Larger self-service food stores include the Co-op at Sollas (open until 10.00 pm Mon-Sat) and MacLennan’s and Lovat’s (the former NAAFI / SPAR) situated in Balivanich (5 miles) on Benbecula. MacLennan’s is very price competitive with a good selection of wines & spirits and is also open until 20.00 on a Saturday and from 11.00 – 16.00 hours on a Sunday. Lovat’s is open 7.30 – 21.00 Monday – Saturday & from 10.00 – 16.00 on Sundays
Tourist Information Centre
The Tourist Information Centre is situated near Lochmaddy pier and is open from Easter to October. Tel. 01876-500 321.
Travel Times by Car
Tigh-na-Mara – Lochmaddy Ferry Terminal15 mins Tigh-na-Mara – Benbecula Airport20 mins Tigh-na-Mara – Berneray Ferry(for Harris/Lewis)30 mins (via “Committee Rd”) Tigh-na-Mara – Lochboisdale Ferry (for Oban / Mallaig)55 mins Tigh-na-Mara – Eriskay Ferry (for Barra)1h 15 mins
Wining and Dining
A portable outside B-B-Q (powered by bottled gas) is stored in Le Garage.
Hotels, Bars and Restaurants ( * = recommended for food quality & service)
Westford Inn: Just a mile or two down the road. Recommended for food and drink!
Benbecula: The Dark Island Hotel (tel. 01870-603 030) Bar meals and A la Carte.
*Stepping Stone Restaurant (tel. 01870-603377) Table licence and meals/snacks.
Claddach Kirkibost: *Conservatory Café (tel. 01876-580 390) Bistro meals & sandwiches.
Open 11.00-17.00, Mon-Sat, 11.00-15.00, Sunday
Locheport: *Langass Lodge Hotel (tel. 01876-580 285) A la Carte, seafood and game.
(Closed outwith tourist season)
Lochmaddy: *Lochmaddy Hotel (tel. 01876-500 331) Bar meals and A la Carte.
*Taigh Chearsabhagh (tel. 01876-500 293) Soups, sandwiches + local prod.
*Hamersay House (tel. 01876-500 700) Four--star Hotel + bar meals .
The Chinese Take Away is located next to the Low Flyer pub in Balivanich. See the Menu in the House Guide. Phone 01870-602 993 for opening hours. Currently, no cheques or credit cards (but ATM nearby) and no delivery service.