Adventure

Cycling The Hebridean Way: Day 10

Today was a bit of a transitory day; moving from the business of cycling the Hebridean Way to thinking about the long journey back home. But it did have its moments, starting with a 6am paddle / wash in the sea. That was an envigorating way to start the day. I returned to the tent to make coffee but within minutes the tent had been surrounded by… cows! They can be dangerous animals so with this thought in mind, my tent was packed up in record time and I was heading – tentatively – towards the gate.

The main aim of the day was to move myself over to Stornaway on the east coast from where I will catch the ferry to Ullapool. After the cow incident – it was still very early – but before setting off south and then east – I detoured to the Port of Ness, a place consisting of a port that was clearly once of greater importance than it is now, lots of houses, a gallery (shut at 8am) and a café (shut…). I busied myself brushing my teeth and pondering just how stinky and grimy I had become after over a week on the road and a night of wild camping. This is the unglamorous side of cycle-camping…

After a call to the ferry company to rectify one administrative error on my part from the previous evening (more were to be revealed later…), I set off on the trudge – for that is what it was – across the vast peat bog – for that is what it is – that is otherwise known as Lewis. It had its charms in the sun when I was approaching the end of the Hebridean Way yesterday; today, in the drizzle, it seemed less so. Even the petrol station I passed wasn’t ‘able’ to fill my water bottles. The Twitter reaction was pleasing and supportive…

After about 45km – this was certainly not a day off the bike – I arrived at the campsite in Stornaway that I had booked last night. Or had I?

Me: Hi, I have a booking for one person, a tent and a bicycle.

Receptionist: Are you sure? We don’t have your name.

Me: Yes, I paid £10 over the phone.

Receptionist: We don’t normally ask for payment over the phone…

Me: How much is it for the night?

Receptionist: £13

Me: Mmm…

There was no problem with a place at the – excellent – site in Stornaway but I was sure I’d paid £10. And indeed I had. To the wrong campsite. I figured this out while watching my clothes spin around the washing machine. When I had called to book the site the previous evening, the women I spoke to had thought it strange that only a few days ago another person called Andrew Sykes had stayed at the site. Indeed he had. It was the same Andrew Sykes who had chosen to call the wrong number…

The early afternoon was spent doing a bit of camping admin; washing my clothes, drying the tent, recharging batteries… But my own batteries were far from recharged and when I arrived in the centre of Stornaway for a look around, I was far from enthusiastic. Fortunately I bumped into Jon France, a Twitter / website correspondent who also happened to be in Stornaway. He reminded me that we met back in 2014 on a previous ride in Scotland and he was good company for a couple of hours. After quick investigation of Lews Castle – I’m back tomorrow morning to visit the museum there – we sloped off to the pub to chat over beer.

it’s now 9pm. I’m knackered. But there are still a few days to go. Tomorrow I head to Ullapool on the ferry and a night at the campsite at Ardmair Point. There I’ll be tuning in to listen to Tim Sanders deliver this month’s Cycle Touring Festival online talk. All the details here.

And then it’s the arduous cycle / bus / train journey back home via Garve? Inverness? Glasgow? Who knows? If my administrative skills are as good as they e been in the past 24 hours I might end up in Alaska…

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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