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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