Borve or Borgh lies about half way up the west side of the main part of the island of Barra, where a deep valley leads into the heart of the mountains at its centre.
Borve itself is a relatively small settlement. We've used the name to apply to a slightly wider area, essentially the west facing coastal parts of Barra, an area that is quite different in character from the east of the island and which is typified by rocky outcrops separated by broad sandy beaches: all backed and topped off by machair (dunes and sandy grassland).
The centre of this stretch of coastline is Borve Point. This is the site of a burial ground. To its north is one of the most spectacular beaches on the west side of the island. Between the main road and Borve Point are the Borve Standing Stones, two of just seven standing stones on Barra and the surrounding islands. Well, actually, to call them "standing" is a slight exaggeration. One is leaning, the other lying down.
Inland from the main road, two minor roads lead into the valley to the east, one along the north side and the other along the south side. The settlement here is scattered, with a mixture of traditional cottages and newer bungalows. In a couple of places on the south side of the valley, traditional blackhouses have been re-roofed with more modern materials and used as outhouses.
The north side of the valley is home to St Brendan's Church. You may also see signposts (and tourist guides) telling you that a fifteen minute walk from the end of the road along this side of the valley is a restored blackhouse used as a museum. The walk up the track into the head of the valley is well worth while, but the blackhouse is no longer open and the restoration work seems to have been comprehensively undone by the hostile climate.
To a visitor a striking feature of these settlements (and others on Barra) is the number of old vehicles left to decay in gardens or in the surrounding landscape. Vehicle disposal on some Scottish islands has long been a problem, and it is clearly one that has yet to find a solution on Barra.
South of Borve you find the Isle of Barra Hotel in a superb coastal position at the north end of Halaman Bay. The sand here forms one of the most steeply shelving beaches we've seen anywhere: and possesses waves that seem to delight in soaking passing walkers. Above the south end of Halaman Bay is the freshwater Loch Tangusdale. An islet in the loch is home to the remains of Castle Sinclair, another stronghold of the MacNeils.
North of Borve, and past yet more dunes, a side road turns off near Cuidhir and leads to Barra Golf Club. This nine hole golf course has a particular claim to fame: all the greens are surrounded by electrified fences powered by solar panels to keep out the sheep that access every other square inch of the island. The golf club is also one of the most easily accessible places from which to gain an overview of the whole west coast of Barra.
Back on the main road, at Cuidhir you find a fascinating group of houses built with rounded ends, while nearby is the Church of Scotland Barra Parish Church. Also nearby, and close to the main road, is a large stone farmhouse, one of the most imposing on Barra.
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