Sound of Harris

Introduction

This is a relatively small area, covering the Sound of Harris and its entrance channels. The tidal streams are especially complex in this area.

On the east side, the area runs from just south of Loch nam Maddah to just east of Loch Rodel (Roghadail). On the west side it runs from Traigh Iar to Traigh Scarasta. It includes Toe Head, Pabbay and Boreray.

Times of high water

Loch Nam Madadh: High water is 40 minutes before high water at Ullapool

Loch Roghadail: High water is 40 minutes before high water at Ullapool

Leverburgh: High water is 40 minutes before high water at Ullapool

Berneray: High water is 46 minutes before high water at Ullapool

Tidal streams

The tidal streams in the Sound of Harris are complex. They vary with springs and neaps, but also between summer and winter and between day and night. The information below should be taken as a guide only, and you will need to pay attention to the movement of the water as you see it.

Unless otherwise indicated, the information for flows in the Sound relates to springs.
At neaps in summer, the south east-going stream runs during the whole of the day and the north west-going stream runs during the whole of the night. At neaps in winter the pattern is reversed with the north west-going stream running during the whole of the day and the south east-going stream running during the night. Between neaps and springs, you'll have to guess for yourself...

Entrance to Loch Nam Madah: The east going stream begins at 35 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The west going stream begins at 5 hours and 45 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 2.5 knots at springs. During the in-going stream, a strong north east-going stream runs north of Madach Beag. The out-going stream sets strongly to the south side of the entrance, running towards Madadh Mor.

Streams within the loch are generally weak.

Around Groahaigh and nearby islands: The south-east going stream begins at 35 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The north-west going stream begins at 1 hours and 40 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. Streams of up to 4 knots may be encountered among the islands. Further north, the duration of the south east-going stream is greater. Neap tides are likely to behave differently, affected by the diurnal flow.

In the channel west of Renish Point: The tide flows south-east and north-west. The flow reaches a speed of 1 knots at springs. Off Renish Point, the flow may reach 2 knots at springs.

Near Strond: The tide flows south-east and north-west. The south-east going stream reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs. The north-west going stream reaches a speed of 1 knots at springs.

Around the Hermetray island group: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 35 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The north-west going stream begins at 35 minutes after high water at Ullapool. In the narrower channels, flows can reach 3 knots.

North west of Gousman: The east south-east going stream begins at 4 hours and 15 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The west north-west going stream begins at 1 hours before high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 0.5 knots at springs. The flows may be different at neaps in summer, being affected by the diurnal streams in this area.

In Caolas Sgairidh and between Ensay and Harris: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 45 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The north-west going stream begins at 25 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs.

However, at neaps in summer, the south east-going stream runs during the whole of the day and the north west-going stream runs during the whole of the night.

At neaps in winter the pattern is reversed with the north west-going stream running during the whole of the day and the south east-going stream running during the night.

In the narrow channels, flows may reach 5 knots, with less flow in the wider channels.

Caolas Sgairidh: Between Ensay and Killegray: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 45 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The north-west going stream begins at 25 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 5 knots at springs. However, at neaps in summer, the stream runs south-east during the day and north-west at night.

Reef Channel, east of Berneray: The south south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 15 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The north north-west going stream begins at 1 hours and 25 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs.

Sound of Harris, north east of Berneray: The east south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 35 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The west north-west going stream begins at 55 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. At neaps in summer, the flow is to the south-east during the day and to the north-west at night. Note that data given in the Admiralty Pilot for this location since 1974 is erroneous.

1 mile north-north west of Ensay: The east south-east going stream begins at 4 hours and 55 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The west north-west going stream begins at 1 hours and 20 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The flow reaches a speed of 0.8 knots at springs.

Coasts north and south of the Sound of Harris: East of a line from Griminish Point to Scarp The north north-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 40 minutes after high water at Ullapool. The south south-west going stream begins at 30 minutes before high water at Ullapool. The north-going stream sets east into the Sound of Harris, the south-going stream sets west from the sound. The streams are only strong off salient points and in narrow channels.

Notes

Access/Egress

Rodel: (NG 049 828) g Harbour. Parking available near both ends of the harbour.

Lochmaddy: (NF 919 688) g A small slip near the community hall is likely a quieter place to launch than near the ferry pier. Limited parking possible.

An t Ob: (NG 012 863) g Working slip and ferry terminal. It should be possible to find parking, but it would be sensible to consult the ferry timetable to avoid busy times and keep out the way of the ferry!

Otairnis: (NF 908 794) g There are slipways both sides of the south end of the causeway to Berneray. Parking should be possible.

Suggested trips

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