It’s been difficult to fault the Outer Hebrides so far (as you will continue to discover below). Only one very modern facet of life has let me down; mobile data coverage. Uploading text like this isn’t a problem. Photos need 3G and video needs 4G. Why am I telling you all this? Well, you may find that the usual mix of text, images and video (that you have become accustomed over the years…) takes a few days to upload. Today, North Uist offered me a Vodafone 4G signal so, for the first tome since arriving on Barra, I was able to upload videos. You may want to look again at the previous two posts to watch those videos before you read this. (And come back to this post tomorrow or the day after for today’s video…) On with the show!
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 had a good night’s sleep in my private room at the youth hostel. I was fearing that the ride from the train station to the accommodation last night might involve a hill; it didn’t. Far from it. Just a gentle cycle beside the harbour wall. The Rough Guide claimed it would be “a fair trek with a backpack from the ferry terminal [to the youth hostel]” but I can only imagine the authors have rarely hiked any distance with a backpack. A ‘fair trek’ it wasn’t. Mercifully. They also claim that the climb to McCaig’s Tower requires a “stiff ten-minute climb” from the centre of time. Again, they were stretching the point. I’ll let you know what they think about the Hebridean Way…
Trains. Three of them today to kick off this journey to the Western Isles. As I type I’m sitting in the third train which is rattling it’s way along the West Highland line towards my destination for the day, Oban. But back to this morning, or rather, last night.
I have to admit that these kinds of photographic displays of kit have, in recent, years become very much of a cliché, but they are fun to make and someone out there in the ether may find them of use. For most people they provide amusement and, perhaps more often, bemusement (“why the hell is he taking that with him???!!”). Below, in excessive detail (it wasn’t a busy day…), you’ll find set out most of what I will be taking with me when I travel to the Outer Hebrides early next week to ride the length of the Hebridean Way.