Cycling in Pairc — three routes from Gravir, South Lochs, Isle of Lewis

In Cycling, Isle of Lewis, Walking
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Cycling UK may have fled the Western Isles but, in addition to the excellent Bespoke Bicycles in Stornoway, here at Croft 37 Gravir we’re helping to serve folk on two wheels in the islands. I’m a Level 2 qualified bike mechanic, a trained Ride Leader and have a fully-equipped workshop on-croft.

Gravir is around 12 miles from the Hebridean Way at Balallan. If you experience the wilderness of Pairc (South Lochs) by bike, you’ll be very glad you made the detour. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that it might end up being the highlight of your Hebridean tour. For bikepackers, we have a unique pop-up campsite with staggering 360-degree views over Loch Odhairn. Why not stay with us and do some, or all, of the bucket list rides below?

Marvig and Calbost; ‘The Loop’ and optional extension to Cromore

My go-to road ride and one of my favourite places on Earth, this is cycling Nirvana. Clockwise is the easier direction so that the steep hill between Loch nan Faoileag and Gravir on the north shore of Loch Odhairn is a descent.


Leaving Gravir by climbing past the fire station, continue on the single track road to Eishal Junction and take the right fork. You can bear left and visit Cromore, where there’s a lovely circular walk, or right toward Marvig. The road rollercoasters through a complex of moorland and lochs with views across the Minch to the Point peninsula east of Stornoway, and to the mainland.

The images in this collection were taken on Boxing Day, 2023. It’s quite nice in summer also

You can blast around in 45 minutes or less on a road bike or cruise along with a camera, binoculars and picnic and make a day of it. Take care on the steep singletrack descent back into Gravir.

Lemreway and Orinsay; optional hike to Steimreway

These chocolate box fishing and crofting villages, a short ride from Gravir, are tied by history, along with the now deserted Steimreway. The route climbs over Gravir’s common grazings to the southernmost extremity of the inhabited Pairc peninsula with breathtaking views across to the hills of Eisgean and South Pairc (not that one), the Shiant Islands and Skye.

Shiant Islands

You can obviously visit the villages in either order. The out-and-back route on the map below takes you to the picnic area in Orinsay, where the short-but-tough hiking path to Steimreway begins. I’d recommend stout, waterproof off-bike footwear if you elect to do the walk.

Loch Sealg from the Steimreway path
Road between Orinsay and Lemreway
An e-bike helping this 72-year-old friend tackle the climb out of Lemreway

Balallan, Eisgean (Eishken) and Glen Gravir

A rough-stuff classic for those with the stomach for some bog-trotting hike-a-bike. As with any circular route, this amazing circuit may be completed in either direction. I prefer the anticlockwise variant to enable prompt post-ride attention for the inevitable wet feet. This option also allows for a more comfortable picnic accompanied (usually) by eagles overhead in the Eishken estate. We first did it in deep winter, when the frozen ground made the going easier underfoot. Allow most of a day to enjoy this world-class nano-adventure in full.

Calleach na Mointeach from Sildinis, Pairc

In this direction, leave Gravir for Balallan and stop off at the Páirc Deer Raid Monument before turning left to climb the stunning Eishken singletrack to Kinloch Seaforth (Loch Seaforth Head). Take in the incredible view over to the Cailleach na Mointeach (Sleeping Beauty or Old Woman of the Moors) and Harris from the Clan Mackenzie monument. This is the heart of Europe’s densest golden eagle population and you’d be unlucky not to spot at least one, along with their white-tailed cousins, outside the incubation and brooding period, when 50% are tied up at nesting sites.

Kinloch Seaforth, Eisgean
Golden eagle and raven
Old schoolhouse, Eisgean

At the eastern end of Loch Sgiobacleit, work your way along the stock fencing and manhandle your ride over it to cross the burn (with care!) via the tiny bridge as indicated on the route map. You’ll see the first and last house in Glen Gravir around three miles away. Follow the burn due east using deer, sheep and ATV tracks as appropriate, sometimes resembling a footpath. At Glen Gravir, the tarmac road begins again. Follow it back into the township past the church.

Easy hike-a-bike
A lochan east of Eisgean
Glen Gravir

Tom an Fhuadain pop-up wild campsite flyaround

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