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Dail Mor Beach (Isle of Lewis)

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The beach stretches along 4km along the Isle of Lewis, Scotland.

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      22.08.2009 11:51
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      A small beach on the Isle of Lewis

      If you find yourself driving along the A858 coastal road on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides and you fancy spending the day on a beach then you are very spoilt for choice. There really is a sandy beach more or less at the end of every minor road that leads off the A858 to the shore but don't expect to find a sign post pointing to the beach.

      I was staying at Shawbost on the north coast of the island and had been told by the locals that one of the best beaches nearby was at Dail Mor a couple of miles away. Dail Mor is sign posted from the main road but this refers to the hamlet of the same name rather than its beach, but when you see the sign for that follow it. This minor road falls steeply down to the shore and when you reach the end just over a mile from the A858 you will suddenly find yourself faced with a beautiful sandy beach.

      The sand, like that on all Hebridean beaches is exceptionally fine and a lovely golden white colour but the main attraction of Dail Mor is not its sandy beach but its waves. The bay is about 4Km wide and unlike the nearby smaller coves it is therefore not sheltered other than at its western and eastern fringes. With no land between here and Canada there is nothing to break the force of the waves and as they crash ashore they are truly huge. These waves are known as "Atlantic Rollers" and attract surfers from all over the world but that said don't expect to find this beach packed solid with people. When I visited it was a scorching day in May without a cloud in the sky and there were just 2 people surfing the waves that afternoon and other than that the beach was deserted.

      Some of the Atlantic Rollers are over 3 metres tall and the downside of this is that the sea isn't suitable for bathing. This is a shame since the water is so clean it is a turquoise blue/green colour but if it is swimming that you are looking for then there are plenty of other sheltered beaches nearby including Dail Beag about a mile away.

      At the end of the road there is a small car parking area for about a dozen cars but I doubt that it ever gets full. There is also a cemetery located at the end of this road that is very picturesque. This cemetery is split into two halves with an old section containing graves from the 18th, 19th and early 20th century and a modern cemetery. I often used to wonder why such cemeteries could often be found at these beaches, with no church nearby and no houses and naively assumed it was because it was such a lovely spot. The truth however is much more practical and is due to the fact that the bodies can't be buried inland because the peat holds so much water they would rise to the surface (not a nice thought) and so they are buried in the sandy soil at the shore.

      There are various different routes from the car park down to the beach and it's only a short walk. It is also not too steep so it should be suitable for disabled visitors too. The beach itself is quite narrow, probably around half a kilometre in width but it does stretch round in a gentle arch for about 4 kilometres.

      As I mentioned earlier this beach was virtually deserted when I visited but there were a couple of people surfing. It was all very quiet and tranquil and the only sounds were of the seabirds and the waves crashing against the rocks. If you want to get away from it all then I really can't think of a more idyllic place.

      If you are not here for the surfing then there are plenty of small rock pools to explore and even some small caves in the rocks that are accessible at low tide, but you need to take care that you don't get stranded. The rock pools were full of tiny crabs and little fish and other forms of life but the area is especially noted for its rare birds and plants. It is also a good place to try and catch a glimpse of dolphins, porpoises or even sharks and whales but you need to be quite patient and have a fair amount of luck. If luck isn't on your side you will certainly see lots of seals on the rocks and rabbits in the sand dunes.

      During my recent visit I saw a magnificent White Tailed Sea Eagle here and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it didn't have a nest somewhere on the inaccessible sea cliffs nearby as they provide a perfect habitat for this huge bird. I also saw a family of otters and plenty of other wildlife too.

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