South west Lewis has a complicated coastline, especially where the island is deeply bitten into by Loch Roag. As the B8011 to Uig turns west into the dark jaws of Glen Valtos, a neck of land no more than a mile wide leads to a much wider, anvil-shaped, peninsula, part of which is home to the crofting township of Valtos.
You reach this via a single track road that leads you past the white Uig Parish Church to a loop of road that stays fairly close to the coast of the peninsula. Following the loop in a clockwise direction gives you a fascinating insight into a beautiful part of Lewis.
You start your circumnavigation of Valtos by heading north west towards Cliobh. Here the road turns north east to cross the hillside above a wonderful beach defined on both sides by a rocky headlands and backed by a broad grassy margin. A second road from a junction in Cliobh leads down across the grassy area to the beach.
When we were there, this was home to a remarkable sight. All the sheep had been rounded up from the area's common grazing land and penned, and lambs were being marked to show their ownership, depending on which sheep they attached themselves to.
A climb and a descent brings you to the conjoined townships of Valtos and Cnip. The latter has a pier and the views extend to a number of Loch Roag's islands including Pabay Mor. Here, too, you find another beach. There comes a point in any visit to the Western Isles when you start to become blase about superb beaches. Anywhere else the beach at Cnip would be worth travelling to visit in its own right. But in south west Lewis it's not particularly outstanding.
The most striking of Valtos's beaches lies a little to the south east of Cnip. Tràigh na Beirigh is a mile long arc of white shell sand facing north east into the loch. It is backed by one of the more organised camping and caravanning areas on Lewis and there can be few more idyllic places to spend your time.
From Tràigh na Beirigh the road heads first south then west around the Valtos peninsula. You meet your outward route back near the parish church. Also nearby is the area's main harbour, at Miabhaig. This is home to a mix of fishing, leisure and excursion craft
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