The most important attraction sits on a rocky islet in the bay: Kisimul Castle (tel. 01871/810-313), built for strategic purposes, was the longtime stronghold of the notorious MacNeils of Barra, a clan known for piracy and lawlessness. The oldest part of the castle is a tower dating from 1120. In 1938, the 45th chieftain, the late Robert Lister MacNeil of Barra, began restoration work on his ancestral home. From April to October, you can visit on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons. A boatman can take you over and back from 9:30am to 6:30pm. Entrance is £5 for adults, £4 for seniors, and £2.50 for children 5 to 15, including the boat ride.
To drive around the island, head west from Castlebay until you reach Kinloch. On the left is Loch St. Clair, reached by a tiny track road. In the loch, on an islet, stand the ruins of St. Clair Castle, called MacLeod's Fort. Continuing north toward Borve, you see the Borve Standing Stones on your left. At Borve, the north fork leads to a chambered cairn and the hamlet of Craigston, which has a church dedicated to St. Brendan, the Irish navigator who many cite as the discoverer of America. In the area are two interesting ruins: Dun Bharpa, a collection of stones encircled by standing stones, and Tigh Talamhanta, a ruined wheelhouse.
Continue north to Allasdale. Dun Cuier is one of the few excavated Hebridean Iron Age forts, better preserved than most. Opposite Allasdale is Seal Bay, a beautiful spot where the seals do as much inspection of you as you of them.
At Northbay, at Loch an Duin, the remains of an old dun protrude from the water. Continue north to Eoligarry, site of a small ferry terminal taking passengers to Ludag on South Uist. Eoligarry's proud possession is St. Barr's Church, named after St. Findbarr of Cork (A.D. 550-623), who, it is said, converted the islanders to Christianity after finding many of them practicing cannibalism when he arrived. The original 12th-century chapel was restored by Fr Callum MacNeil.
For bike rentals and advice on scenic routes, head for Barra Cycle Hire, 29 St. Brendans Rd. (tel. 01871/810-284).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.