3 amazing cycle routes on the Isle of Harris (Outer Hebrides)
Discover the Isle of Harris: A Cyclist’s Paradise
Published on 20 April 2023
The Isle of Harris is a stunning and captivating gem in the Scottish Hebrides, a true paradise for cycling enthusiasts.
Its unique combination of breathtaking landscapes, diverse terrain and rich cultural history creates an unparalleled cycling experience for riders of all levels.
Parts of Harris can be cycled as part of the Hebridean Way or enjoyed by itself in bite-sized chunks without completing all 185 miles.
Nestled in the Outer Hebrides off the Northwest coast of Scotland, Harris boasts a rugged and wild untamed beauty that begs to be explored by bicycle.
Dramatic coastlines, white sandy beaches, wildflower meadows and turquoise waters contrast with the striking, moon-like landscapes of the island’s mountains and peat bogs.
The diverse terrain offers cyclists a range of experiences, from challenging hill climbs to leisurely coastal routes.
Isle of Harris’ relatively low traffic and well-maintained single-track roads create a peaceful and safe cycling environment. As you pedal along these scenic routes, you’ll be immersed in the rich cultural history, marked by ancient stones, historic churches and traditional crofting communities.
Nature lovers will also be delighted by the abundant wildlife around the island. As well as lots of sheep and highland cows, keep an eye out for otters, seals basking on the shores, red deer roaming the hills and a wide variety of bird species, including golden eagles and sea eagles.
The warm and welcoming locals further enhance the cyclist’s paradise; with cosy accommodations, delicious local cuisine and a strong sense of community, you’ll feel right at home as you explore this remarkable island on your bike.
Several cafes and shops are dotted around for some much-needed food and drink.
Be prepared to encounter the full range of the Hebridean weather; even in summer, it can be challenging but very rewarding.
There are not many bike-related facilities on Harris and Lewis, so be prepared and take your spare tubes/air pumps/puncture repair kits just in case you are unlucky to get a puncture.
The one we found is Harris Bike Hire (electric bikes).
The Isle of Harris offers an unforgettable cycling experience, combining awe-inspiring landscapes, wildlife, diverse terrain, rich cultural history and warm hospitality.
Isle of Harris Cycle Routes
Here are some suggestions for bike runs on Harris. You can decide whether to make the complete loop or only cycle parts of these routes.
South Harris loop (38 miles, moderate difficulty, coastal roads and hilly terrain, 4 to 6 hours).
This route covers most of South Harris, going anti-clockwise through the Golden Road in the South East before heading West along the flatter sections and the main beaches of West Harris.
You will see many beautiful West Harris beaches (Luskentyre, Seilebost, Nisabost, Borve, Scarista, and Northon) and have a good chance to encounter some wildlife.
You can start the loop anywhere, but give yourself plenty of time to stop and take in the views, and there are several options for grabbing a bite to eat and keeping hydrated.
- Starting at the An Clachan shop in Leverburgh (the little supermarket in South Harris), you can top up on food/drink supplies and head South towards Rodel.
- After exiting Rodel, head East. You might get a good view of the Isle Of Skye to the South East.
- Continue heading NorthEast towards Finsbay and Flodabay, keep an eye out for seals basking on the rocks.
- Take a left when you reach Aird Mhige / Bays of Harris, heading towards the main A859 road.
- Take a left when you get to the A859 and head West down towards Luskentyre beach (there are toilets and a water tap at Luskentyre)
- After a wander around Luskentyre Beach, head South and then West towards Seilebost and the Nisabost before heading South, going past Scarista.
- Peel off right from the main A859 heading into Northton, the last beach on this cycle run is around a mile down the road (take a left after cycling through Northton)
- Head back to the A859 from Northton, and you will soon be back at your starting point in Leverburgh.
Tarbert to Husinish loop (34 miles, moderate difficulty, coastal roads and hilly terrain, 4-6 hours)
This route heads along some twisty single-track roads along the West Harris hills, but your efforts on the hills will be worth it as you arrive at the beautiful Huisinis beach.
It is single-track most of the way, so be careful, as there are several blind corners and a few hills to tackle.
- Starting at the main car park in Tarbert town centre, head North on the A859 towards Ardhasaig, then head down the hill and take a left onto the B887, which goes past the old whaling station chimney at Bunavoneader.
- Head West past the very remote tennis court at Bunabhainneader and enjoy the cycle downhill towards the North Harris Eagle observatory car park
- Keep heading West through the hilly terrain towards Amhuinsuidhe Castle and continue on the roller coaster roads towards the beach at Huisinish, where toilets and water taps are at the Huisnis Gateway.
- There is a little harbour to the North of the beach along a short sandy road worth exploring, and you will catch a glimpse of Traigh Mheilein beach to the North.
- Head back to Tarbert by doing the route in reverse.
West Harris beach loop (35 miles, easy difficulty, mostly main road with some small hills, time 4 to 6 hours)
This loop takes you along most of the spectacular West Harris beaches and you will be glad to hear that it doesn’t involve many hills.
It follows the A859 main road, with a few off road sections to get to the amazing beaches of West Harris.
- Starting at the An Clachan shop in Leverburgh, you can top up on food/drink supplies before heading North towards Northton.
- After cycling through Northton village, keep going straight at the T junction (through a gate) and cycle on the path which heads towards Ceapabhal mountain.
- You should get an amazing view of Scarista beach to the right, as well as getting to Traigh na Cleavag beach.
- If you are there in the late spring / early summer, be wary of nesting birds who are quite likely to dive bomb you if you get close to their nests,having a bike helmet is good protection just in case.
- Head back South through Northton and take a left when you get back to the A859, heading North towards Harris Beach club car park at Scarista, where you can stop to take a different photo of Scarista beach from the East side.
- Head down the hill through Scarista Mhor and Borve, you will eventually get to Nisabost (with Talla na Mara centre on the right hand side).
- A little climb up the hill and Horgabost campsite will come into view, there is a nice cycle downhill, take a left at the bottom of the hill into the campsite and follow the path, keeping to the right which will take you to the beach at Horgabost.
- Head back to the A859 East towards the car park viewpoint at Seilebost, it has one of the best parking bay views as you look over to Taransay, Luskentyre and Seielbost.
- Head down the hill towards Seilebost and take a left at the Seilebost school / West Harris campsite signs, you can cycle up to the sand dunes and take in an amazing view over towards Taransay.
- It’s time to head towards the last beach on this route, take the left hand at the A859 junction for Luskentyre (just before the bus stop) and meander along the single track road with some wonderful views of Luskentyre bay on the left.
- Keep heading West until you get to the 2nd cemetry, where the road ends at the toilet block, which has a water tap if you want to top up on water.
- You can go through the gate and after a few mins you will hear the waves as you arrive at the spectacular Luskentyre beach to take in the sights and sounds.
- Head back to Leverburgh on the A859, without peeling off the main road to visit the beaches you have already visited, you can grab a bite to eat, a drink or a well earned ice cream at the An Clachan shop (Mon to Sat)