6 Cliff Beach, Valtos

Isle of Lewis | Scotland

Back to all locations

Valtos1 Valtos3 Valtos2 v3 v2 v1 v4 v8 v6 v9 v5 v7

About Valtos

Travelling through the extraordinary bleak terrain that leads from Stornoway past the ancient Callanish stones to the west side of the Isle of Lewis, the road leads to Valtos, its white shell sand beach forming a perfect teardrop shelter from the incoming might of the Atlantic Ocean.

A site of continuous settlement for thousands of years, the village of Valtos once sat on high ground overlooking Cliff bay where archaeological evidence of a temple, burial ground, castle and smithy still remains. Following a bad storm in the eighteenth century, the village shifted towards the sea to protect its essential fishing boats against bad weather and now sits on the relatively sheltered water across from the Isle of Pabbay. This tiny village, with its population of around 35 people, is the largest settlement in the parish of Uig and was bought by the local community in 1999.

Uig itself stretches over a vast area of the western side of the Isle of Lewis and, despite its small population, has produced some extraordinarily influential figures: it is the ancestral seat of Clan MacAulay, direct descendants of Norse invaders, and forefathers of both the anti-slavery campaigner Thomas Babington MacAuley and Lord MacAuley author of the famous History of England. David and Charles MacIver from Uig were amongst the original founders of the Cunard shipping line.

The historic presence of ancient peoples can be felt throughout the island and the Gaelic language. The 12th century Lewis Chessmen, carved in walrus tusks and now in the British Museum, were found on Uig beach following a storm in 1831. Originating from Norway, their existence on Lewis remains as unexplained as the enigmatic 5000-year old Calanais/Callanish standing stones, whose spiritual atmosphere betrays nothing of their original mysterious purpose.

Mu Bhaltos

Aig deireadh rathaid a tha a’ ruith o Steòrnabhagh thairis air a' mhòintich, seachad air Tursachan àrsaidh Chalanais gu taobh siar Eilean Leòdhais, tha Tràigh Bhaltois, leis a ghainmheach gheal, a’ toirt fasgadh sònraichte o neart a’ Chuain Siar.

Mìltean thar mhìltean de bhliadhnaichean tha daoine air a bhith a’ fuireach ann. Tha rannsachadh arc-eòlais a’ sealltainn gun robh baile Bhaltois stèidhichte air an talamh àrd os cionn Bàgh Chliobh, far a bheil lorg ann fhathast de theampall, clachan, caisteal agus ceàrdach. Ach an dèidh gaillinn san 18mh linn chaidh am baile a ghluasad na b’ fhaisge air a’ mhuir, gus na bàtaichean-iasgaich a dhìon o dhroch shìde; a-nis tha e ri taobh a’ bhàigh, mu choinneimh Eilean Phabaigh. Le 35 neach a’ fuireach ann, ’s e Bhaltos am baile as motha ann an Ùig, agus chaidh a cheannach leis a’ choimhearsnachd ann an 1999.

Tha Ùig fhèin a’ gabhail a-steach sgìre anabarrach mòr air taobh siar Eilean Leòdhais agus, ged nach eil tòrr dhaoine a’ fuireach ann an sin an-diugh, tha buinteanas don sgìre aig corra neach aig an robh cliù mòr fad is farsaing. B’ e seo Tìr Chlann MhicAmhlaigh, sliochd Lochlannach a thàinig a dh’Alba o chionn linntean; agus b’ iad sinnsearan Thomas Babington MacAuley – a bha an sàs san strì an aghaidh tràilleachd – agus Am Morair MacAmhlaigh, a sgrìobh History of England. Cuideachd, bha Dàibhidh agus Teàrlach Moireach à Ùig am measg nan daoine a stèidhich a’ chompanaidh luingeis Cunard.

‘S urrainnear leantalachd eachdraidheil chulturan àrsaidh fhaireachdain air feadh an eilein agus cuideachd tron Ghàidhlig. ‘S ann à Nirribhidh a bha na Fir-Thàileisg – air an dèanamh san 12na linn à tusgan each-mara, – a chaidh a lorg air Tràigh Ùige ann an 1831, agus a tha a-nis ann an taigh-tasgaidh Bhreatainn. Chan eil fios againn ciamar a thàinig iad a bhith ann an sin, dìreach mar nach eil fios carson a chaidh Tursachan dìomhair a thogail ann an Calanais o chionn 5000 bliadhna.

Deborah Warner, March 2012

With special thanks to Dr Pàdraig MacAoidh for the Gaelic translation

What the public thought...

"Bravo! I'm speechless. As my friends will tell you, that is quite a feat! Thank you."
Ines Fialho, Brandao, Stornoway

"Miorbhealach! What a lovely concept and beautifully realised. Unforgettable."
Malcolm McLean, Leodhais, Uig