The name of the island means 'Mountain of the Fords' and Benbecula is sandwiched between
North and South Uist, now all interconnected by stone causeways. In days gone by these islands were separate and crossing were made over the mudflats only at low tide.
The island has some lovely sandy beaches, including a long stretch just below the airport runway.
The island's economy is probably somewhat dependent on the airport and military base at Balivanich. Partly as a result of this, Benbecula is home to 1800 people which makes it relatively densely populated.
Due to its central location in the island chain, it is an ideal base if you wish to spend several days or a week exploring
North and South Uist. Local transport includes planes, buses, ferries, car hire.
All sorts of tours are available whether you want to go hiking or cycling (alone, with friends or in a group), or travel on a guided coach trip.
Click here for local travel details and info on how to reach the islands.
Books and maps about the Uists and the Hebrides are available to buy online.
The administrative centre of these islands. In terms of population
and commerce, it is probably second only to Stornoway, the capital
of the Western Isles. Its size is due to the presence of the Army
base which supports the MoD rocket range. Facilities in the
town include garage, car hire, general stores, bakery, post office, Bank of Scotland, etc.
It is also home to Benbecula airport which has regular flights
to and from Stornoway, Barra and Glasgow. Local service buses and the Postbus run from here
north to Lochmaddy and south to Lochboisdale.
The Stepping Stone is just opposite the airport entrance and is a nice place to eat.
This bright, nicely decorated building with wooden interior houses the Food Base (an informal cafe area where you can get snacks and meals such as scampi/fish and chips) and on the slightly raised level is the licenced restaurant, Sinteag, which is more expensive. Phone 01870 603377.
For grocery shopping try MacLennans or the supermarket which is located on the left-hand side of the road when you have left the airport and are travelling south towards the local school. Turn down the street and park by the houses near the entrance to the shop. Just a few yards further down that street from the supermarket is a local cafe - if you look for it, you will find it! There are public toilets inside the building too.
Medieval chapel and burial ground (map reference NF 766537) on the left-hand side of the road when you are travelling southwards after Balivanich.
is a visitor centre which includes
a museum, art gallery, cafe, function room, and a shop selling local produce and crafts. Internet access is available. It hosts a variety of events including historical exhibitions and music concerts. Open daily Monday - Saturday. Tel: 01870 603774.
Borve (Buirgh in Gaelic) Castle is a tower-house or hall-house, which was built in the 14th century.
At this time, the owners of Benbecula were the Clan Ranald and it is thought that Borve was owned by Ranald, son of John of Islay in the 1370s. It was also owned by another Ranald (known as Ranald of Castellborf) in 1625.
Now in ruins, it is located 150 metres from the B892 road visible between 2 houses near Lionacleit.
The remains can be seen of a rectangular structure measuring around 15 x 12 metres with very thick walls.
The Community School houses an exhibition area next to the library.
There is also a swimming pool and theatre.
Regular exhibitions are held at the school and these are open to the general public - just follow the signs from the main entrance. You are also able to look at the books in the library and there are many on the Hebrides. You can also get snacks in the school cafeteria if you don't mind being surrounded by all the local children at lunch time!
Sgoil Lionacleit (email firstname.lastname@example.org) publishes An t-Uibhisteach,
an annual community magazine with poetry, short stories and items of historical and cultural interest relating to the Uists. It costs about 2 pounds.
There is a range of hotels, B&B and self-catering accommodation available on the islands.
The ones listed in the tourist brochure are now given on the official Western Isles Tourist Board web site.
Well recomended is the Borve Guest House at 5 Torlum, Benbecula, run by Mrs Gretta Campbell (Tel. 01870 602 685 / Fax: 01870 603 235). 3 ensuite bedrooms. Scottish Tourist Board 4 Stars. Open all year.
Lionacleit Guesthouse and Self-Catering are situated on a 24-acre croft on Benbecula. The guest house offers B&B accommodation with
a choice of single, twin, double and family bedrooms. Evening meals can be provided by arrangement.
Am Botham provides self catering accomodation for up to 6 (4 adults and 2 children).
Tel: 01870 602176
Glendale B&B is located at the mid point of the circular road round the island of Grimsay with easy access to Benbecula, North and South Uist via the causeways. Overlooks Kallin harbour. Scottish Tourist Board 4 Stars. 3 rooms (double & twin). Contact Katie and Murdo MacLeod. Tel: 01870 602029.
Uist Cottages have 2 self catering properties on Benbecula.
1 Grimsay Island sleeps 2 and 3 Kyles Flodda sleeps 4.
Hillview Holiday Cottage (sleeps 4-6 people) has panoramic views and is less than 3 miles from Culla beach on Benbecula. Situated 30 minutes drive from Lochmaddy ferry terminal and
40 minutes from Lochboisdale ferry terminal. Contact Ann & Archie MacLeod. Tel: 01878 700862.
Nunton House Hostel is in the converted 18th century former home of the clan chief of Clan Ranald. Situated just over 1 mile from Balivanich. First opened in May 2012. Accommodation in 4 en-suite dorm rooms each with 4 beds (2 mixed, 1 male, 1 female).
Tel: 01870 602017 / 01870 603727.
Mr. Millar has the Taigh-na-Cille bunkhouse at Balivanich (Benbecula) which sleeps 8 people. £10 per night. Telephone 01870 602 522.
The Shellbay Caravan and Camping Park at Lionacleit can accommodate up to 15 caravans / motorhomes and 15 tents. April-October only. Tel. 01870 602447.
Tourist Information Centres
Open Easter to October only:
Lochboisdale - Isle of South Uist - Telephone: 01878 700286
Lochmaddy - Isle of North Uist - Telephone: 01876 500321
Open all year is the main office in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis
(telephone: 01851 703088 / fax: 01851 705244).