Berneray is an ideal island for a bike ride. Its undulating roads provide easy cycling and reasonable access to the sandy beaches, hills and machair (this is the fertile low-lying grassy plain by the coast). From Berneray, a day trip round North Uist is manageable on a bike, as is a day's cycling in Harris.
There is plenty of open unfenced land to explore on Berneray. The machair is very accessible, although from March to September walkers need to be aware of crops and ground nesting birds. There are also some great beaches. The Cockle Beach beside the hostel is home to a colony of waders, the Traigh Iair ( West Beach) is a three mile long sandy beach, and the East Beach has spectacular views of Harris. The three hills of Berneray - Beinn a Chlaidh, Cnoc Bhuirgh, and Beinn Shleibhe are well worth a climb, providing beautiful views of the Sound of Harris, North Uist, Harris and, on a clear day, St Kilda.
The coast of Berneray is popular for coastal kayaking and the bunkhouse is a good launching point to explore the outlying islands of Pabbay and Boreray, Killigray and Ensay. When the tide is in, the Cockle Beach is a perfect place to swim and paddle. Of late, this beach has become popular with windsurfers. A rowing skiff was built on Berneray last year and this year will be taken out on good summer evenings. Visitors are welcome to participate.
The colony of wading birds by the bunkhouse includes dunlin, turnstone, sanderling and ringed plover. In the Spring eiderduck and shellduck appear and in the Summer migrating birds like the artic tern and pied wagtail return. Resident birds include herons, oyster catchers, sandpipers, lapwings, curlews and snipe.
There is an otter run near the bunkhouse and on a lucky day they can be spotted. Throughout the year grey and common seals bask in the skerries and rocks around the island. There is a good viewing point for these near the Post Office. Further afield in North Uist red deer can be seen in the evening in summertime and owls and birds of prey are common.
Berneray has a rich and interesting history. On the hill behind the bunkhouse Beinn a 'Chlaidh, there is a standing stone and early monastic remains. On Seabaidh, the headland opposite the bunkhouse, are remains of a vanished community, which was evacuated in 1697 when a ferocious storm covered the area with sand, rendering it uninhabitable. At the east end of the island stands The Gunnery, birthplace of the illustrious 17th century Norman MacLeod.
Berneray Visitor Information Centre has a wealth of information on Berneray's history and its past.
Berneray is famous for its wild flowers. In the Spring primroses and yellow flag are prominent. In summer the machair is a mass of colour with poppies, corn marigold, harebell, ox eye daisies, orchids and clover. By the Cockle Beach sea pinks and sea asters appear at different times of year. On the wetter ground bog cotton, lady's smock and ragged robin are common and on the close cropped hillsides wild thyme and speedwell grow in abundance. All of these can be seen within walking distance of the bunkhouse.
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