island off the Isle of Lewis, Scotland

Not to be confused with Berneray, the island connected to North Uist along the Western Isles bus / ferry route.

Great Bernera (Gaelic Beàrnaraigh Mòr) is an island in the Outer Hebrides or Western Isles of Scotland. It lies just off the northwest coast of Lewis and is connected by a bridge. The only village is Breaclete - or in Gaelic Breacleit, the island's road signs are primarily in Gaelic.

Landscape between Bostadh and Tobson

Get inEdit

 
The narrow lane to Bostadh

Great Bernera is about 23 miles west of Stornoway. See Lewis for connections from the rest of Scotland.

By car from Stornoway take A859, turn right onto A858 (direction Achmore) until Garynahine (Gearraidh na h-Aibhne) then left onto B8011. Follow this to the junction with B8059 - turn right and it leads to the island.

Bus W3 runs from Stornoway to Great Bernera, via Lochganvich and Garynahine then across the bridge to Barraglom, Breaclete and Croir. There are 6-7 M-Sa, taking 2 hours 30 min, fare £3.70. You may have to start out on the W2 west coast circle bus and change at Garynahine. Bus W4 also runs towards Valtos and Mangersta along B8011 passing the B8059 turn off, but from there it's a five mile hike to reach Great Bernera.

Get aroundEdit

The island is about five miles long by two miles wide. You can do it all on foot but will appreciate having your own wheels. The roads are single track with passing places, standard courtesies apply.

SeeEdit

 
Callanish VIII and Loch Roag
  • 1 Callanish VIII (Cleitir) (Tursachan - Gaelic for "Standing Stone") (Use parking lot at end of bridge). Always accessible. The name is because it's the 8th site associated with the Callanish standing stone complex. It's four stones in a semi-circle on a cliff edge overlooking the channel of Loch Roag. This is believed to be the original layout, it's not that four from a circle of eight fell over. The Callanish complex was erected circa 2900-2600 BC, and remained in use for 1500 years. Free.    
  • You can also see the bridge itself from here. Don't pull up for photos on the bridge, it's a narrow single-track.
 
Bostadh Iron Age House with the dry stone wall
 
The house with beach in the background
 
The main room with turf fire
  • 2 Bostadh Iron Age House (Take road north to Croir, follow signs for Bostadh then walk from road's end). mid-May to mid-Sept M-F 12:00-16:00. In 1992 a storm eroded the coastline and exposed 5 buildings, with traces of a larger village having been here from approx 500 BC to 800 AD (ie Late Iron Age or Pictish Age). Only limited stabilisation and preservation were possible so one house was removed piece by piece and rebuilt on firmer ground; the rest was reburied. You wriggle in by the passage into the main circular room, which surrounds a stone hearth with a peat fire. There are recesses for beds and storage. The layout and circumstances of discovery resemble Skara Brae in Orkney, but that structure is twice as old. £3.
 
Sandy beach at Bostadh
  • Bostadh Beach nearby is an attractive white sand beach. The Time & Tide Bell is an art work by Marcus Vergette, installed in 2010; the high tide rings the bell clapper. It's part of a series, with five other bells installed around Britain by mid-2019 and three more planned.
  • Little Bernera is the island just north. It's long been uninhabited but was traditionally the local burial ground.
  • 3 Norse Mill and lobster ponds (at Breaclete). Loch Breacleit drains out through two smaller freshwater lochs, and water-powered mills have long been set in the stream where it reaches the sea here at Loch Riosaigh. The present Norse Mill was rebuilt in the 1880s, functioned until after the First World War then fell into disuse, but was again restored in 1995. It's so called because it uses centuries-old Norse technology, with its prime mover a horizontal wheel set in the flow. The remains of much older dams and millstones can also be seen. The site's other advantage was that farmers could bring their grain by boat to the mill. The nearby lobster pond has also been restored. It was built in the mid-1800s to keep catch alive until market.
  • 4 Bernera Museum, Breaclete HS2 9LZ, +44 1851 612285, fax: +44 1851 612331. mid-May - Sept M-F 12:00-16:00, Oct-Apr Tu Th 13:00-15:00. Local history, from the Iron Age village, lobster pots and land riots to the building of the bridge. Adult £1.50.

DoEdit

BuyEdit

Breaclete has the island's only shop, post office and filling station all in one, open M-Sa 09:00-18:00 and Su 12:30-17:00. The community hall has a cafe, a small museum and a medical practice.

EatEdit

Bernera Community Cafe is in the Community Centre along with the museum and keeps the same hours. Has internet access.

DrinkEdit

Bring your own, there isn't a pub.

SleepEdit

  • 1 Threeways B&B, 25 Kirkibost HS2 9LX (Turn right after crossing bridge), +44 1851 612360, . Modern rooms looking south over Loch Barraglom. B&B double £90.
  • Self-catering cottages usually let by the week Sat-Sat, but may let single nights in winter. These are:
2 Lochan View Cottage at Breaclete, £500 / week.
3 Atlantic View Cottage at Hacklete, £800 / week.
Valasay Cottage and 4 Valasay Croft House at Valasay.
5 Loch View at Croir, £1,000-£1,250 / week.
6 Taigh Solas at Hacklete, £600 / week.
Bernera Self-Catering next door, £300 / week.

ConnectEdit

There is no mobile phone reception anywhere on the island.

Stay safeEdit

  • The nearest hospital is in Stornoway (Western Isles Hospital, MacAulay Road, Phone: +44 1851 704704). There is a medical practice in Breaclete.

Go nextEdit

Back to Lewis is your only option.

This city travel guide to Great Bernera is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.