Adventure

Cycling The Hebridean Way: Day 3

I compared notes with my fellow wild campers this morning. None of us had slept particularly well on the dunes beside the beach at Vatersay. I think for all four of us it was a combination of the winds, a little rain but also middle age. When I opened the flap of the tent at around 6am the sun was shining, just. It had managed to pierce its way through a break in the thick clouds that were, on and off, continuing to deliver light showers. It was a sunrise, of sorts. What wasn’t ‘of sorts’ was the location. It is almost as if the tourist authorities behind the creation of the Hebridean Way had ordered a spectacular place for their ride to start and it had been delivered with enthusiasm.

I was looking forward to my morning coffee and porridge in such a wild camping spot so I reached for my gas bottle and gas burner and removed the plastic cap from the bottle only to discover that I had managed to buy one without a screw fitting. Bugger.

So, sans coffee or porridge in my belly I packed up the tent, reloaded the bike and set off back to Castlebay on Barra. I did so via the end of the road at Vatersay as I assumed that was the start point of the Hebridean Way, somewhere near the post office about 500 metres to the south of where I had camped. But I couldn’t find anything remotely official to say ‘the route starts here!’. There was a large structure with the words ‘Hebridean Way’ cut out of the metal next to the small community centre / toilet / shower near the beach so I took this to be the official start point instead and posed Wanda beside it for a few photos. Then I set off…

They say you can experience four seasons in a day here. I think I had three of them during the ride back to Castlebay on Barra. Upon arrival I had a short cycle around and managed to buy a replacement gas bottle, a coffee and a breakfast. Well, it was some millionaire shortbread but when needs must…

The route follows the western half of the circular road around Barra. Of all the cyclists on yesterday’s ferry, I think I am probably the only remaining person on the island. I am determined not to rush this and, as a result, only cycled around 35 km today. Some of that was to the ferry ‘terminal’ (shed) to enquire about times for tomorrow’s crossings to Eriskay – I chose the 11am ferry and bought a ticket online – and then back to deviate from the route to explore the beach airport. Would I see any plane action? Just… A plane had landed a earlier in the day and as I cycled around the corner and the beach came into sight, I could see the aircraft take off from a distance. It was the last plane of the day.

My journey was not quite at an end as I wanted to camp at a place called Scurrival Point. The campsite – Scurrival Campsite – had been recommended and it’s easy to see why. Nothing more than a sloping field with a small house containing showers, a kitchen and a small communal room, it’s location beside yet another Sandy beach makes it wonderful. At £5 for the night, it’s stupendous.

Following a snooze in the tent and a nice chat with the owner, Angus, I’ve made my way down to the beach and a few minutes ago launched the drone. Alas with this being a very ‘off-grid’ place in terms of 4G data, you might have to wait a while before you seen the results.

There’s now a hint of rain in the air so I’m heading back to the tent to cook some dinner. Hopefully…

Here’s the plan for my trip to the Outer Hebrides

…and here’s a podcast I made about cycling the Hebridean Way prior to setting off:

More episodes of The Cycling Europe Podcast can be found on this page of CyclingEurope.org.

And finally, since you’ve made it this far, just one more thing:

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Categories: Adventure, Cycling, Travel

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5 replies »

  1. Just catching up on your posts for first time today. I cycled both east and west coast routes on Harris in July. Two very different routes. I preferred the the east coast or Golden Road but did it north to south that has less uphill sections. The scenery is spectacular, it’s much quieter traffic wise and consequently saw much more wildlife (eagles, seals and more) but equally the beaches on the west side are spectacular. Luskentyre (not on route) is unmissable.
    I filmed the routes for Kinomap – https://videos.kinomap.com/en/playlists/15395

  2. We chased off the ferry and stayed at the campsite on Barra. But the next night went down to Vatersay and camped in the dunes, were I cooked a spectacular local meal, with lamb and potatoes. We were joined by the local farm dog, she was the most gorgeous collie. We also went scuba diving off the causeway, where we were also treated to a eagle flying overhead, it was massive. The next day I played golf through cowpats on the most rural of gold clubs on Barra, before seeing the plane land and take off on the beach. We wild camped somewhere North, maybe the next island. it is all wonderful… Looking forward to each instalment.

What do you think?