Tolsta to Lional Heritage walk (Bridge to Nowhere)
The bridge to nowhere, also known as Garry Bridge, was build whilst the Isle of Lewis was under the ownership of Lord Leverhulme.
Lord Leverhulme owned Lewis and Harris between 1918 and 1923 and the bridge was part of a plan to create a new road between Tolsta and Port of Ness.
The road was never completed and beyond the bridge only a few kilometres of rough track extend as evidence to the project.
The Bridge to nowhere also marks the starting point for a challenging but delightful trek.
The walk is not particularly difficult it is the terrain that provides the challenge. Much of the route is primarily over peat bog with many water courses. Highlandwalks rate the bog factor on this walk as a 5 (It’s a swamp. Snorkel recommended) which is probably acurate, particuarly on the south end of the route. See link: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/outer-hebrides/heritage-trail.shtml
I have covered the full walk on a few occasions and frequently in part, particularly from the Tolsta end.
The walk, one way, is approximately 17 – 19 km taking about 6 – 7 hours, but this can be shortened if you start from the north side at Sgiogarstaigh car park and don’t adhere rigidly to the way markers.
Starting from the north side markers are fairly well placed and form a reasonable route. The track and path disappears a short distance south of Cuidhaseadair with the terrain becoming increasingly boggy between here and Dhiobadail. From the path end there is little evidence of any trail with only occasional green markers to indicate a route. The route splits at Dhiobadail due to a small river which often floods. At this point an inland diversion around is provided for when the river is in spate. If using the spate diversion route take care, particularly if coming from the south, as the markers are neither frequent nor easily visible.
South of Dhiobadail the terrain can be particularly boggy even in high summer and markers are occasional and poorly placed.
A word of warning should you consider starting this walk from the Tolsta end in the south. On a number of occasions I have seen walkers abort this walk when starting from Tolsta. The markers at the Tolsta end are misleading and cover some particularly boggy ground. The best way to avoid this is to turn right, rather than follow what appears a rough track straight ahead, immediately after crossing the small river at the end of the track. From here you head towards a small bothie on a hill off to the right and just off the coast. The map below indicates a suggested route and way points to help compensate for the poorly placed markers. If you would like details or .gpx for way markers please email us through the contact form. (Here).
What you can expect to see?
The trail covers some spectacular, but isolated, scenery. The coast line is rugged with notable rock formations and stacks.
During the summer breading gulls populate many of the rock cliffs and Bonxies can be found in a few inland locations.
As much of the area is bog with a good cover of heather Red Grouse are commonly encountered and Eagles can often be seen overhead and around the shore cliffs. There are a few isolated beaches, but if you have started your walk from the north end to Tolsta and have not previously been to the Tolsta area the view of Garry beach is a wonderful end to a long hard hike.