ISLE OF BARRA
Tangasdale
© Siar Media 2012
A walk of approximately 3 hours of easy to medium going. The walk begins at the stile onto the machair across from the telephone kiosk, about 2.5 miles west from Castlebay. There is an area of ground outside the fence suitable for parking.   Stout footwear should be worn.   Post 1. The remains of a bunker is all that is left of the military camp that was here during the Second World War. The personnel were responsible for the radar station at Grean Head. Post 4.  From the shore of Loch Tangasdale ( also called Loch St. Clair, Loch Sinclair and Lochan Eas Dhuib (Small Loch of the Black Cascade)), you can see MacLeod’s Tower. It was built in 1430 by John the Rough, son of Marion of the Heads. It was originally three levels high. The building itself is built on top of an even earlier structure, probably an Iron Age Crannog. Towering steeply above the loch is Ben Tangaval. At 333m it is only 50m less in height than Ben Heaval. Post 8.  The remains of several structures are visible from here.   It is thought that the one furthest to the left was the home of Roderick the Dove ( MacNeil of Barra), after he abandoned Kisimul Castle in 1748. The other structures are probably various out-buildings and enclosures from the same period. Posts 13/14.  Between these posts and slightly downhill to the right is what is thought to be the remains of a Bronze Age burial cairn. Post 15.  From here, walk to the cairn straight ahead. These cairns were often built by local fishermen so they could plot their position while fishing amongst the rocks. Cairn.  A panoramic view of the west coast of Barra is seen from here. To the north, Grean Head, with the Borve headland in the foreground. It should be mentioned here, that there was another Dun, Dun Cille, standing where the cemetery is now (situated on the Borve headland). Part of the structure is still visible at the corner of the cemetery. To the south, the remains   of Dun Ban are clearly visible on a rocky headland. The marker posts head inland slightly to avoid the steep coast.   Dun Ban Built around 2,000 years ago, this  Iron Age fort is a fantastic monument to the past. The defensive position, the promontory wall and the Broch (circular tower) set back from the wall, would have made Dun Ban an almost impregnable fortress in its time. Its dramatic location is almost unrivalled. From the Dun, retrace the path back to post 15.  The route branches here, giving a choice of returning by the original path or going by an alternative route via the beach. Posts 20/21.  In between these posts is a pebbly inlet (doirlinn in Gaelic), with what is probably a fisherman's hut set back from the shore. Stile.  Just across the fence and to the right is the remains of another black house and further on Loch na Doirlinn.   To the left is a small bay, which often has a variety of waders, and occasionally a heron, feeding there. The path leads onto the beach, with a small stream to be crossed. It is advisable to avoid the beach area immediately to the south, as the sand there can be quite soft. A direct line from the last marker post back to the kiosk will avoid any soft/sinking sand.   Birds. There are a large number of shore birds to be seen on this walk, as well as other sea birds. The two lochs are home to a pair of breeding swans, and this is also a stopping off point for migratory geese, ducks and other swans. Inland there are snipes, pipits and other birds to be seen.   Flora. While there is a large variety of wild flowers, there is nowhere near the abundance that can be found in Vatersay and Eoligarry. This is mostly due to the land being used for grazing sheep as opposed to cattle. As if to compensate, from September through to January the ground is covered in various types of fungi.   Follow the crofting code. Please ensure that dogs are kept on a leash at all times.   Park your car with consideration for others and do not block gates. Fasten gates and use stiles provided to cross fences.   Leave no litter. Try not to disturb breeding birds and animals. Protect wildlife and plants. Avoid damaging archaeological sites.     Permission to construct the heritage trails has come from the local crofters. Please remember that this ground is still used for crofting purposes.
ISLE OF BARRA