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December 13, 2017
While the rest of the UK was snow and ice-bound last week, our guests took advantage of a clear sunny day to explore the tidal island of Erraid, and walk to Balfours Bay (Traigh Gheal) , surely one of the most beautiful coastlines in the UK. Balfours Bay is named after the fictitious character David Balfour in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Kidnapped”, who is washed ashore there in the story.
To reach Erraid from Achaban House, take the road to Fionnphort, then Fidden and follow the road to Knockvologan Farm. Most people elect to drive this part of the journey to allow as much time as possible on Erraid which is cut off at high tide. Park at Knockvologan Farm which is at the end of the road, making sure not to block any access.
See the google earth map of Erraid on the right to follow the route our guests took and be sure to check the tide times. Take the footpath from the farm down to the beach which is a vast expanse of white sand, with the sea a deep turquoise. (1) There are numerous offshore islets and coastal outcrops of the local red granite, providing a dramatic setting. To the south, the Paps of Jura can be clearly seen, topped with snow.
The next stage of their walk followed the coastline on the beach to reach the tidal channel, which at low tide can be easily crossed (2). Our guests decided to head to the north end of the island of Erraid and walk over the top to arrive on lower ground on the north east of the island. This is not a clear path to begin with, but heading approximately south west, keeping an eye out for the pass through to Balfours Bay, (3) the path gets increasingly more obvious. This part of the walk takes around 30 minutes from setting foot on Erraid, if not tempted to explore off the track. Soon Balfours Bay comes into view below in its stunning setting of pink granite cliffs (4). In the summer this is an ideal swimming place fringed with flowering machair, but very pretty in winter too.
From Balfours Bay (5) our guests explored the coast to the north (6), where seals could be seen hauled out, with lovely views of the small islands in Sound of Iona and to the Isle of Iona itself. They took to some higher ground for great views of the Burg and Ben More topped with snow and north to the Rum Cuillin, before heading back in the same direction.
Walk Highlands website provides two walks on Erraid with a slightly difference route, taking in the Findhorn Community. Click here for walk 1 and walk 2. The walks have lots of useful information, guidance and photos.