Leverburgh is the main village on South Harris. The main road A859 follows the west coast, running from Tarbert through Seilebost, Borve, Scarista and Northton to Leverburgh, continuing south to Rodel. A narrow lane twisting along the east coast is known as the "Golden Road" for the expense of building it.
Until 1920 the village was called "Obbe" (Gaelic An t-Òb, from the Norse word for a bay), but was then renamed for William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme (1851-1925), the soap tycoon. He'd bought up all of Harris and Lewis and had grand plans for their industrial development, but he had no time for crofting or rural resettlement. On Lewis this caused a great falling out, and he pulled out of investment there. On Harris there were fewer such tensions and he established a fishing port and fish processing works in Leverburgh. The project stalled after his death in 1925, though "Mac Fisheries" continued in business until 1979.
Leverburgh is 20 miles from Tarbert along the A859. Road signs use An t-Òb, but bus and ferry timetables use Leverburgh.
By boat: most visitors arrive on the ferry from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris.
Calmac car ferries sail four times a day between Berneray and 1 Leverburgh, taking one hour. Return fares are £29 per car and £7.60 per adult including the driver (valid for 2020). Berneray is linked by road to North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist.
The other ferry route is from Ullapool on the mainland to Stornoway on Lewis then south by road.
By bus: There are five buses M-Sa between Leverburgh and Tarbert, taking 45 min. Most continue to Stornoway on Lewis, another hour.
A linked bus & ferry service runs up the Western Isles through Barra, the Uists and Harris and across Lewis to Stornoway, so M-Sa it's possible to go the whole way in one day. To do so northbound you need to set off from Castlebay on Barra at 06:20, but for Harris you could leave it till 10:20, passing Lochboisedale South Uist at 13:20, Benbecula at 15:00 and Lochmaddy North Uist at 15:30 to reach Leverburgh at 17:00 and Tarbert at 17:30. Going south, you need to leave Tarbert at 10:45 to go the whole route, Leverburgh at 11:30, Lochmaddy at 13:45, Benbecula at 14:25 and Lochboisdale at 15:25 reaching Castlebay at 17:35.
Bus W10 is the Western Isles "spine route" from Barra. It runs along the west coast of Harris on A859, from Leverburgh via Northton, Borve, Seilibost, Luskentyre turnoff, and Golden Road turnoff into Tarbert, 45 mins. It continues across north Harris to Stornoway. There are six per day Mon-Sat.
Bus W13 runs up the east coast lane from Leverburgh via Rodel, Ardslave and Geocrab then either direct to Tarbert or meandering through Grosebay and Drinishader. Two run M-Sa, another four are school buses.
Harris Cycle Hire is based at Sorrel Cottage, Leverburgh, see "Sleep".
- 1 St Clement's Church, Rodel (3 miles from Leverburgh). Fine church dating from the 15th century.
- 2 Seallam! Visitor Centre, Northton (An Taobh Tuath), HS3 3JA, ☏ . Apr-Oct: M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Nov-Mar: W-F 10:00-17:00. Small museum with exhibits on Harris history and wildlife, plus archives for genealogy research. £2.50.
- 3 Luskentyre is one of the best beaches anywhere on earth, pity the water's freezing. It's reached by a winding little lane that branches off A859 above Loch Fincastle. The island seen a mile to the west is Taransay, normally uninhabited, but there are occasional campers (who need their own boat), and in 2000 it was the location for the BBC series Castaway.
- Drive or cycle the Golden Road, the switchback lane along the east coast from Rodel up to Tarbert.
- 1 Golf, Scarista, ☏ . The Isle of Harris Golf Course has 9 holes amidst glorious scenery. Open M-Sa and you can often just turn up and play, but Tues & Sat in summer may be booked out to tournaments, check the club fixture list. £25 per day, £15 for 9 holes.
- Visit St Kilda. Leverburgh is the closest port for day trips, in summer but only in calm weather. Booking essential: you need to make yourself available for a two day slot and the boats sail on the first suitable day of that slot. It's a 3-hour crossing, giving you 4-5 hours ashore on Hirta the main island, plus a circuit (non-landing) of the other islands, eg Boreray with its sea stacks and swirling birds. No dogs, check the operators' websites for other rules eg minimum age, and take your own packed lunch. Operators are:
- Sea Harris, 5 Ferry Rd, ☏ . Day trips to St Kilda May-Sept, leaving Leverburgh at 08:00 and returning for 19:00. Adult £205.
- Kilda Cruises, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 08:00-19:30. Based in Tarbert but sailing from Leverburgh to St Kilda mid-April to Sept, leaving at 07:30 and returning for 19:30. Adult £225.
- 1 Harris Community Shop, An Clachan HS5 3TS (on A859). M-Th 09:00-18:00, F Sa 09:00-19:00. Community-owned co-op, selling groceries including local specialities, newspapers (arriving mid-afternoon), fishing rods and flies, DIY supplies and crafts. Filling station 24 hours.
- The Anchorage, Ferry Pier HS5 3UB, ☏ . M-Sa 12:00-21:00, bar till 23:00. Does lunches and evening meals, dogs welcome, booking advisable for summer evenings.
- Butty Bus, Pier Rd HS5 3UF (near the ferry terminal), ☏ . M-Th 07:30-15:00, F Sa 07:30-15:00 & 17:00-19:30. Friendly cafe next to ferry pier.
- Croft 36, 36 Northton, HS3 3JA (on Northton lane near Seallam! Centre), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-Sa 11:00-19:30. Bakery & takeaway hut selling hot pies, pastries and soup. Fillings include local seafood, rabbit, mutton and venison, with some gluten-free and vegetarian.
- 1 Temple Foods, Northton HS3 3JA. Locally produced botanical food and drink.
- 2 Skoon Art Cafe, 4 Geocrab, Isle of Harris HS3 3HB (on back road between Tarbert and Rodel), ☏ . Mar-Oct Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00. It's meant to be an art gallery, but visitor reviews suggest the coffee & brownies are selling better than the oils.
As the Rodel hotel has closed the nearest bars are in Tarbert.
- 1 Am Bothan, Ferry Road, Leverburgh (Red building, you need to be on the old ferry road just south of the new one.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. A comfortable and clean hostel, located near the ferry landing in Leverburgh. Dorm £25 ppn.
- 2 Ben View, Leverburgh HS5 3TL, ☏ . Small friendly B&B. Dogs welcome. B&B double £80.
- 3 Carminish House, 1A Strond, Leverburgh HS5 3UD (half a mile south of Berneray ferry), ☏ . Good quality welcoming B&B open April-Oct. No dogs. B&B double £100.
- 4 Sorrel Cottage, 2 Glen Kyles, Leverburgh HS5 3TY (2 miles north of Leverburgh ferry pier), ☏ . Friendly comfy B&B, dogs welcome, does bike hire. B&B double £90.
- 5 Scarista House, Sgarasta Bheag, HS3 3HX, ☏ . 6-room luxury informal hotel. Has WiFi, but no TV. Open to non-residents for dinner but reservations are required. from £150, dinner from £45.
- 6 Crook Cottage, Ardslave, Isle of Harris (midway between Rodel and Tarbert on back road), ☏ . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. Traditionally built Hebridean Croft House provides self catering accommodation, 2 bedrooms sleeps 6, let weekly Sat-Sat. Apr-Aug £750 / week, Sept-Mar £500.
- Cross the Sound of Harris to Berneray, which is connected by road to the Uists.
- Go north to Tarbert and on into Lewis.