Rhenigidale Hostel – explore rugged mountains & haunting Loch Seaforth.
Set within a small Hebridean village. Surrounded by the rugged hills of Harris, close to the haunting Loch Seaforth, with great views over the Minch to Skye. Plenty of wilderness to explore within sight of the hostel.
- Open all year
- Grid Ref: NB229018 (OS Landranger Sheet No. 14) and GPS Location: 57°55’.11.37” N 6°40’48.93 W
- The hostel is the white painted building on the hillside on the north side of the village. It is near the end of the road. Please note that parking is not permitted in the Turning Area at the end of the road.
- When you enter the village you will see the hostel. It is the white painted building standing above the road on the north side of the valley.
- 12 Beds in three shared rooms. Two dormitories of five beds. One dormitory of two beds. There are no private rooms. None are ensuite.
- Each bed has a mattress and mattress cover, a duvet and duvet cover, and pillows with pillow cases. It is compulsory to bring your own quilted or sheet sleeping bag. Sheet sleeping bags may be hired for the duration of your state at a cost of £3
- This is simple hostel providing basic facilities for walkers and cyclists. We are not a luxury hostel.
- Charges: The current fees are set out here
- How to get the best out of a visit to our simple hostels
- Please also read our full terms and conditions
- Camping is possible within the hostel grounds. There are three prepared pitches, but they are all small. There is no room at Rhenigidale for large “family tents”. There is also no space on the hostel property for campervans. The hostel is surrounded by croft land. We cannot give permission to camp on this land. The road in front of the hostel is the public highway where the usual traffic regulations apply. The camping fee is payable per camper not per tent. Wherever you camp, the camping fee is payable if you wish to use the hostel facilities.
- Visitor parking and animals, other than Guide Dogs, are not allowed within hostel grounds.
- We take no bookings. For this reason we cannot predict availability even the day before your visit. However, no-one is ever turned away
- No dogs other than assistance dogs are allowed in the hostel.
- The warden lives nearby. When you arrive please complete the register and pay your fee (if they warden is not there please use one of the envelopes provided and place this in the Honesty Box.
- The hostel is renowned for its tranquillity, views over the Minch to northern Skye, its rugged environment, including its proximity to Clisham the highest hill in Harris and Toddun, to the haunting Loch Seaforth.
- The Hostel Maintenance Organiser is Alan Busson. Please report any maintenance issues including issues relating the equipment and facilities of the hostel. Alan can be reached at Rhenigidale@gatliff.org.uk
Inside the hostel
- Common Room: A cosy room with comfortable furniture and a multi-fuel stove.
- Kitchen: Fully equipped modern kitchen with cooker, fridge, microwave ovens, food storage boxes, crockery, cutlery, cooking equipment, tea towels, dining table and chairs. Recently improved.
- Toilet and Shower: Separate rooms with instant hot water units.
- External toilet which also doubles as a drying room on wet days. Dry days, there is a washing line in the hostel grounds!
- Beds – bunk beds in three shared rooms.
How to find Rhenigidale Hostel
- Rhenigidale can be approached from the north-east by road (13 miles from Tarbert). From the A859, Tarbert to Stornoway road, take the narrow road signposted to ‘Maaruig’. This is on the side of Clisham, the highest mountain of Harris (2622 ft). The narrow road descends into a valley for half a mile. After a hairpin bend, there is another junction, with a phone box on the corner. Turn right and continue the four miles to the road-end at Rhenigidale.
- The alternative route, on foot, is arduous but gives magnificent views on a clear day (6 miles from Tarbert). From Tarbert take the road towards Kyles Scalpay for two miles. Just beyond Laxdale Lochs (Grid Ref: NB185005), at a bend in the road, the track turns off to the left across the hills. There is a signpost to Rhenigidale. The track is marked on OS maps.
- The four miles of the footpath walk is along a clearly-defined path which passes over the south-east shoulder of Trolamul. The footpath is unsuitable for cycles. The path looks cyclable for the first mile or so from Urgha, but deteriorates just after the summit near the junction with the path to Molinginish. Do not take the signposted turn for Molinginish if you want to walk directly to Rhenigidale. Shortly after the fork the track zigzags steeply with 12 hairpin bends down 850 ft to Loch Trolamaraig and then follows the coast to Rhenigidale. It joins the road just west of the village. Walkers should not attempt the track after dark. Accordingly leave sufficient time to complete the track before sunset. At least two hours walking time should be allowed, more if you are unsure of the way or are an inexperienced walker.
Buses and Ferries
- Nearest bus stop: 20 yards from hostel. (No stop but you can’t miss the bus. Usually it is a minibus.) It is essential that you phone beforehand. The bus takes nearly a dozen school children to & from Tarbert. The morning bus gets you to the bus shelter at the junction with the Tarbert to Stornoway road in time for you to catch the morning bus to Stornoway. There are bus connections at Tarbert for travel to or from Leverburgh, where you connect with the ferry to Berneray.
- Please check the current bus timetable on the local authority’s web site. www.cne-siar.gov.uk
Please check the current ferry timetable for the ferries to Tarbert and Rhenigidale on Cal Mac’s web site www.calmac.co.uk
It is essential to phone before hand to use this service in either direction. The service operator is A MacDonald (01851 830327). Please phone Mr MacDonald no later than 8pm (20.00) the night before your journey. If you are unable to take up your booking, for whatever reason, please ring to cancel your booking. This will cost you nothing but there is a charge to the local council if the bus is run for you and you don’t turn up. This takes money away from providing life-line services. Please note that it is the Trust’s objective to do all it can to support the islands and islanders. A little bit more background: The service is essentially a school run, so operates at times which gets local pupils to and from school. The bus takes nearly a dozen school children to & from Tarbert. The morning bus gets you to the bus shelter at the junction with the Tarbert to Stornoway road in time for you to catch the morning bus to Stornoway. After visiting the school it terminates in Tarbert by the ferry terminal. There are bus connections at Tarbert for travel to or from Leverburgh, where you connect with the ferry to Berneray, as well as Husinish, Scalpay, and Stornoway.
- Shops, petrol pumps & Post Office at Tarbert. (13 miles) Also a shop and petrol pumps at Aird Asaig (Ardhasaig) on A859 road (Tarbert to Stornoway road) 10 miles from the hostel. These are the nearest shops. It is essential that hostellers bring all necessary supplies to the hostel.
- Telephone box 4 miles along the road (at junction with the road to Maaruig)
- Taxi hire is possible. Harris Taxis in Tarbert are the nearest taxi firm. Their number is 07500 450387.
Walks from the hostel
- Toddun (1782 ft) stands adjacent to the village and can be climbed by a variety of routes from Rhenigidale.
- The sea entrance to Loch Seaforth (a fjord) is adjacent to the village. It is a short walk over the hill behind the hostel. A haunting place where you can watch the jellyfish float along, and wonder at the sheer walls of the hills rising direct out of the water.
- Molinginish, a usually unfrequented village with two roofed buildings, is some three miles away and is best reached by walking to the top of the Zigzags and taking the signposted path that diverges near the summit.
Rhenigidale: A Community’s Fight for Survival
The author, who was born and breed in Rhenigidale, pays tribute to the invaluable role the hostel played in saving the visit. It put the village on the map before it go electricity and its road. It also put Rhenigidale into the hearts of those who have visited the village.
This remarkable story – the daily troubles the village endured, the constant fight with the council, and, finally, the victorious day the road was opened – is a great read.
Kenny MacKay was awarded an MBE for his lifelong work in Rhenigidale in the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021.
You can order a copy from Acair Books