Of all the islands that I have so far visited on this trip, the island of North Uist has been the least unexpected. That’s not a criticism, just an acceptance that what I cycled through today gave me pretty much all the things that come to mind when conjuring up images of the Outer Hebrides. The remoteness, the beauty, the cattle, the birds, the ruined cliff top buildings, the mountains, the ancient crofts and the massive expanse of the ocean with its uninhabited islands just off shore. Even the weather played its part In delivering what you are ‘supposed’ to get when you visit this place. It was fairly wet. Thankfully most of that fell when I wasn’t on the bike.
The day was split into three; a cycling-ferry-cycling sandwich. I managed to reserve my place on the ferry last night despite the dodgy Wi-Fi connection at the Tractor Shed. Not that I needed to; cyclists were still turning up today without reservations and being let on board. But it gave me peace of mind as I set off this morning. What didn’t give me peace of mind was the accommodation for the evening. Wild camp? B&B in Leverburgh? I wanted to avoid rushing to one of the campsites on north-west Harris and in the process miss the opportunity of appreciating all that the coast of Harris had to offer, either its east or west coast, whichever route I decided to take.
I chatted to a couple of cyclists on the ferry and whatever they said must have got me thinking about distances. From Leverburgh – where the ferry from Berneray arrives on Harris – to those campsites on the west coast was only about 20 km. I could do that easily after the ferry docked at around 2:30pm and before the rain was forecast to start again this afternoon. A route all the way around Harris – taking on both the east and west coasts is only about 50 km. I could do that on Sunday when the weather is looking dry… so that’s the plan. I’m here on the campsite at Horgabost for two nights and will do just that tomorrow. I’ll save my comments about Harris until tomorrow.
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.
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