Friday, 9 June 2017

The hebridean way cycle route....

Well even though I had no idea what the plan was, and what to expect we headed off on a cycle tour of the Western Isles with Janet and Rob. For the record I have to state that my inability to know what was going on was entirely my fault!

Castlebay on Barra

Ferry port somewhere..
Rob did all of the organising, planning the route, where to stay, travel, ferry etc, etc.... which was great, but as I loaded our bikes into the bike taxi for the trip down to Oban and onward ferry to the Isle of Barra I felt a little shell shocked, as we hadn't done much cycle training, and I hadn't even looked at a map of the Western Isles.....

Last minute I'd thrown in a sketch pad and pencils thinking I would draw/sketch and strangely (for me) I found myself sketching some of the views from the off on the trip!


It was a great week, cycling from Barra in the South to the Butt of Lewis in the North. Barra was beautiful and the day after arriving we cycled to the top of the island and caught the Ferry to Eriskay... From here a causeway leads to South Uist.... which leads (via another causeway) to Benbecula (again beautiful)... Next came North Uist and then (another causeway) a great night on Berneray by the beach looking out to sea and Harris. This place was cool and quirky. They had an old fashioned (now in vogue) toilet with a crab strategically placed on the top looking over the system... As I pulled the chain unfortunately 'crabby' lost a claw, which fell in the loo and got flushed out to sea!!! Oh dear, we had to make a swift exit the following morning.

Uist (I think!)

Janet and Rob
Harris was spectacular, coinciding with a sunny day, which always helps. The beaches (Seilebost - wow), and colours of the sea looked tropical and to me quite alien for the UK. After a long while admiring a Golden Eagle looking for pray gliding around the sky close by we dropped into Tarbert for an unusual night on day ?3 or 4 (I've lost track already!).

Well rested after a night in the soviet style 'breeze block' hostel we got an early start for the big hill climb day. It was pretty bad weather, heavy rain and harsh winds as we set off, and was fairly horrific being blown off the road a few times by crazy side winds on our longest cycle day (50 miles).

Seilebost on Harris - wow

The weather improved and we made it to the Callanish standing stones, spending 2 hours drying off and replacing energy in their cafe. Eventually we left and went on to stay in some restored Black Houses by the sea at Gearrannan. This is a beautiful spot and even though we all crowded into a room the size of a match box it was a great spot to be.

Day 'no idea' we headed to the Butt of Harris and the sort of official finish to the cycle route. The lighthouse and views were better than anticipated and we saw quite a few cyclists we had seen on and off over the week. We stayed at an unusual B&B near here that provided incredible food, and were serenaded by piano as we dined (very surprising and enjoyable).

Callanish 2 (I think)

Callanish 1 - busy!!

The Broch...
I think its fair to say that we were all reasonably stiff (various places) on the last day as we arose and only had the last 30 miles back to Stornaway to go. This was quite tough being into a headwind.

Staying in a black house
Stornaway was more picturesque than anticipated and we spend a couple of hours here eating, looking around and awaiting the ferry back to Ullapool. So that was that... 1 week, 240 miles of cycling, some amazing scenery and a great week. It would be great to go back with more time and explore these great islands.

The butt of Harris

The longggg road (headwind) back to Stornaway

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