Month: April 2016

The Hebridean Way – the final chapter

Well I’ve done it, cycled the length of the Hebridean Way. I’ve done it the easy way by not carrying any kit, but it does mean I’ve covered 365 miles to cover the 130 Way and been up and down most hills from both directions.

The final 16 miles today (a 33 mile round trip) were the hardest I think I’ve ever ridden. Not because of the hills but because of the weather. Today looked to be the best day of my remaining time wind wise so it was now or never and never wasn’t really an option, so after a late breakfast listening to the hail, I wrapped up for winter and set off.

The first few miles were windy but ok, gentle hills so nothing to worry about. After 6 miles I considered turning back, a diagonal wind was making it hard to stay upright and pushing me across the road. As there was no traffic, and with now or never in my mind, I carried on. At 7 miles I was still seriously questioning whether to carry on. At 8 miles, the snow started. Driving snow and the wind on open, exposed, desolate moorland. 8.72 miles, I got caught in temporary traffic lights for what seemed like forever. I was cold, wet and, it’s a strong word considering I was outdoors and on my bike, but I was bordering on feeling miserable. The snow stopped and after 12 miles I reached a little museum which said it had toilets and a cafe. I went in and chose what I’d have from the menu on my way back and dragged myself back out. It was a little less exposed and a bit more of a straight headwind apart from the last mile or so and I eventually made it to the lighthouse. A quick photo of my bike, demolished the piece of quiche I’d packed in my pocket and a tailwind back to the cafe for a late lunch and then onto my van. 

All of the islands have been completely different and apart from today I’ve enjoyed all of it. When I saw the Hebridean Way existed I thought it would be good to do some bits of it on my trip, but it’s turned out that the past 3 weeks of my trip have revolved around covering every mile of the route, picking the least windy days for riding and filling the other days with walking and exploring. 

National Cycle Route 780 – complete! 

A few pics from my rides:


The Hebridean Way – 2

The Lonely Planet guide to the Scottish Highlands describes the Isle of Harris as having a lunar landscape. The Hebridean Way cycling leaflet says the Harris section is “moderate/difficult” and talks about the hills of North Harris (but doesn’t mention the south!) So I did something bad. Unintentional but bad. During the first couple of days on the island when it was too windy to ride, I ended up driving some of the route. This was a mistake as I now knew what was about to come.

There were a couple of options for the ride to cover the South of Harris – the first would be to ride up and back. The second was to ride in a loop – covering about 50 really hilly miles, of which only about 20 were on the Way. Either of these options might have been ok if time was on my side but the wind has made cycling difficult and I needed to make progress up the island otherwise I’m going to run out of time. So I devised a third option – put my bike at the start, drive 25miles up the route (as it was a logical place to stop) and I catch the bus back to my bike to then do the ride. 

I locked my bike to a bench at the “Butty Bus” having done a deal with Mr Butty Bus to look after my bike in return for me buying a butty before I started my ride. It had taken a while to get out of him whether he’d be open or not when I got back, but luckily he was as I was counting on the bacon butty to get me up those hills.

That section wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be and I made it over the moon of Harris without any problems before deciding to carry on past my van to tackle the biggest hill on the whole of the Way. I’m glad I hadn’t driven that one first as I probably would have wondered if I’d get up without walking but I plodded up, and then came straight back down the same way to where I’d parked, another 30 miles completed. 270 miles ridden, and about 80 miles along the Way. It’s going to be tight to get it finished as there are gale force winds and snow forecast for this week, but as long as it doesn’t last all week I should just about get there.

Wild camping in the Outer Hebrides

I realise most people won’t be interested in this post but there’s a few who are. For those who aren’t, as soon as I have better signal I’ll post some more photos!

Community Centre fenced off for building works. Good wild spot about half a mile before you get there (from Castlebay direction)

Castlebay Ferry Terminal – Chemical Disposal & tap (although tap wasn’t working when I was there) No showers as advertised.
Castlebay sports centre – showers (£1.10)
A few wild spots up the West Coast.
Eoilgarry jetty – Chemical disposal and water. Can also wild camp there.
Good sized Co- Op in Castlebay

Ferry terminal – shower. (Didn’t notice if there was CW or a tap)

South Uist
Lochboisdale Marina – very new. CW, water, showers (£2)
Good sized Co-Op in Daliburgh
Plenty of wild camping on West coast detours from the main road.

A couple of wild spots on the West – a little car park at Arnol(?) was good. Also in the north West, round by the entrance to the range (next to the cemetery) I didn’t find any CW or water taps on the island and the one campsite was closed. A Co-Op in the south of the island and two small supermarkets in the north.
Showers in sports centre (at the side of the school) £1.10

North Uist
Moorcroft holidays in the south of the island – Cairnish – cheap site and very good facilities including washing machine and tumble drier.
Wild camped at Sollas picnic area for 2 nights (great walks over the sand dunes)
Lochmaddy ferry terminal advertises CW and shower but I didn’t go there.
Berneray ferry terminal – CW and water tap.

:everburgh Ferry terminal – CW and Water. No shower as advertised.
West Harris trust have lots of wildcamping pull ins, £5 payment via paypal.
Tarbert – shower in toilets by tourist information (50p/15mins)
Huishnish – water tap on site of toilets – good for a wild camp.

Loch Erisort Inn just south of Balallam – really friendly owner, good food and is happy for customers to stay in his car park.
Balallam – Self Service launderette and water tap on side of building.
Laxay – Shower in public toilets (£1)