Leverburgh is the main village in the southern part of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, with a population of about 200. The main road A859 follows the west coast, running from Tarbert through Seilebost, Borve, Scarista and Northton to Leverburgh, continuing south to Rodel. A narrow lane twisting along the east coast is known as the "Golden Road" for the expense of building it.
Until 1920 the village was called "Obbe" (Gaelic An t-Òb, from the Norse word for a bay), but was then renamed for William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme (1851-1925), the soap tycoon. He'd bought up all of Harris and Lewis and had grand plans for their industrial development, but he had no time for crofting or rural resettlement. On Lewis this caused a great falling out, and he pulled out of investment there. On Harris there were fewer such tensions and he established a fishing port and fish processing works in Leverburgh. The project stalled after his death in 1925, though Mac Fisheries continued in business until 1979.
Get in edit
Leverburgh is 20 miles from Tarbert along A859. Road signs use An t-Òb, but bus and ferry timetables call it Leverburgh.
By boat: most visitors arrive on the ferry from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris. No ferries 30 Oct-11 Dec 2023 because of construction at Uig harbour.
1 Leverburgh itself has Calmac car ferries four times a day from Berneray, taking one hour. Until end of March 2024, return fares are £29.70 per car, £7.80 per adult including driver, and £3.90 per child. Berneray is linked by road to North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist.
The other ferry route is from Ullapool on the mainland to Stornoway on Lewis then south by road.
By bus: There are five buses M-Sa between Leverburgh and Tarbert, taking 45 min. Most continue to Stornoway on Lewis, another hour.
A linked bus and ferry service[dead link] runs up the Western Isles through Barra, the Uists and Harris and across Lewis to Stornoway, so M-Sa it's possible to go the whole way in one day. To do so northbound you need to set off from Castlebay on Barra at 06:20, but for Harris you could leave it till 10:20, passing Lochboisedale South Uist at 13:20, Benbecula at 15:00 and Lochmaddy North Uist at 15:30 to reach Leverburgh at 17:00 and Tarbert at 17:30. Going south, you need to leave Tarbert at 10:45 to go the whole route, Leverburgh at 11:30, Lochmaddy at 13:45, Benbecula at 14:25 and Lochboisdale at 15:25 reaching Castlebay at 17:35.
Get around edit
Bus W10 is the Western Isles "spine route" from Barra. It runs along the west coast of Harris on A859, from Leverburgh via Northton, Borve, Seilibost, Luskentyre turnoff, and Golden Road turnoff into Tarbert, 45 min. It continues across north Harris to Stornoway. There are six per day M-Sa.
Bus W13 runs up the east coast lane from Leverburgh via Rodel, Ardslave and Geocrab then either direct to Tarbert or meandering through Grosebay and Drinishader. Two run M-Sa, another four are school buses.
Harris Cycle Hire is based at Sorrel Cottage, Leverburgh, see "Sleep".
- 1 St Clement's Church, Rodel HS5 3TW. Daily 10:00-16:00. Fine disused church dating from the 15th century. It fell into disuse almost as soon as it was built, because of the Reformation, but the graveyard continued as the burial ground of Clan Macleod. It's named for Pope Clement I, in office 88-99 AD and possibly the immediate successor to Peter. Free.
- 2 Seallam! Visitor Centre, An Taobh Tuath (Northton) HS3 3JA, ☏ . M-F 10:00-17:00. Small museum with exhibits on Harris history and wildlife, plus archives for genealogy research. Adult £3.
- 3 The Temple is the ruin of a chapel of 1528. The machair headland covers prehistoric settlements, which are being exposed by erosion then lost to the sea.
- 4 MacLeod's Stone is a tall prominent megalith at Nisabost. It's Neolithic, so it was already ancient when a 13th century fellow called Leod founded the kindred (Mac = son of) that bears his name.
- 5 Luskentyre is one of the best beaches anywhere on earth, pity the water's freezing. It's reached by a winding little lane that branches off A859 above Loch Fincastle.
- 6 Taransay is the island seen a mile west of Luskentyre. It's been uninhabited since 1974, but there are occasional campers, who need their own boat. It was the location for the BBC series Castaway in 2000 and for a sequel in 2008.
- Drive or cycle the Golden Road, the switchback lane along the east coast from Rodel up to Tarbert.
- 1 Isle of Harris Golf Club (Comann Goilf na Hearadh), Scarista HS3 3HX, ☏ . M-Sa. 9 hole course amidst glorious scenery, and they've finally shooed the sheep off it. Round £20, day £30.
- Hebridean Way is a way-marked hiking and cycling trail the length of the Outer Hebrides. Stage 8 northbound for hikers starts from the ferry pier and swings inland by Loch na Moracha, returning to the main road at Northton, then again over the moors to Seilbost. At 21.5km / 13.25 miles this is the toughest stage, reckon 8 hours. Stage 9 continues southeast across the moors to Stockinish, Plocrapool and Meavaig, finally by road into Tarbert; 23.5 km / 14.5 miles, 7 hours. Cyclists simply follow the main road all the way to get here.
- Visit St Kilda: Leverburgh is the closest port for day trips, sailing May-Sept but only in calm weather. Booking essential, reckon £270 pp in 2023. You need to make yourself available for a two day slot and the boats sail on the first suitable day of that slot. It's a 3-hour crossing in a small but covered boat, giving you 4-5 hours ashore on Hirta the main island, plus a non-landing circuit of the other islands. No dogs, check the operators' websites for other rules eg minimum age, and take your own packed lunch. Operators are Sea Harris and Kilda Cruises.
- Harris Community Shop, Leverburgh HS5 3TS (on A859), ☏ . M-Th Sa 09:00-18:00. Community-owned co-op in Leverburgh village centre. They sell groceries, newspapers, fishing rods and flies, DIY supplies and crafts. Filling station 24 hours.
- Hebridean Mustard is sold from a roadside kiosk near Sorrel Cottage.
- Butty Bus, Pier Rd HS5 3UF, ☏ . M Tu Th 07:30-15:00, F Sa 07:30-15:00 & 17:00-19:30. Friendly mobile cafe next to the ferry pier.
- The Bothy, Leverburgh HS5 3TX (towards Taylorhill B&B), ☏ . M-Th 11:00-21:00, F Sa 11:00-00:00. Licensed cafe and gift shop north edge of village.
- Croft 36, 36 Northton HS3 3JA (on lane near Seallam! Centre), ☏ , email@example.com. M-Sa 11:00-15:00. Bakery & takeaway hut selling hot pies, pastries and soup. Fillings include local seafood, rabbit, mutton and venison, with some gluten-free and vegetarian.
- 1 Temple Harris, 22 Northton HS3 3JA, ☏ . Locally produced food and drink.
- 2 Skoon Art Cafe, 4 Geocrab HS3 3HB (on back road between Tarbert and Rodel), ☏ . Mar-Sept Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00. It's meant to be an art gallery, but visitor reviews suggest the coffee & brownies are selling better than the oils.
- There are no free-standing pubs on Harris. The distillery in Tarbert makes whisky and gin.
- Isle of Harris Brewery is a micro-brewery on a croft at Borrisdale near Rodel. The shop is open M-Sa 10:00-18:00.
- West Harris Trust run six sites across the island suitable for caravans or motor-homes but not tents.
- Horgabost Campsite is by the beach near MacLeod's Stone.
- Am Bothan, Ferry Road, Leverburgh HS5 3UA (Red building on the old ferry road south of the new one), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. This hostel is temporarily closed for renovation.
- 1 Lingay House, Leverburgh HS5 3TS (by junction of ferry road), ☏ . Cosy B&B with three rooms open May-Sept, evening meals by arrangement. It's on a slope with no step-free access and can't accept pets. B&B double £120.
- Grimisdale Guest House, Leverburgh HS5 3TS (behind Lingay House), ☏ . Pleasant little B&B open May-Sept.
- 2 Taylorhill, 18 Kintulavig, Leverburgh HS5 3TX (1.5 miles north of pier), ☏ . 2 room B&B, welcoming helpful owner. B&B double £110 cash only.
- 3 Sorrel Cottage, 2 Glen Kyles, Leverburgh HS5 3TY (2 miles north of ferry pier), ☏ . Friendly comfy B&B with just two rooms, dogs welcome, does bike hire. B&B double £120.
- 4 Scarista House, Sgarasta Bheag HS3 3HX, ☏ . 6-room elegant but informal hotel, dog-friendly. Has WiFi, but no TV. Excellent dining, open to non-residents but reservations essential. B&B double £280.
As of Sept 2023, you might get a 4G signal in Leverburgh from EE, but there's otherwise virtually no mobile coverage of Harris south of Tarbert. 5G has not yet reached Lewis and Harris.
Go next edit
- Cross the Sound of Harris to Berneray, which is connected by road to the Uists.
- Go north to Tarbert and on into Lewis.