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.
Anyone with even a passing interest in cycling is keenly aware of the most important event in the world of competitive racing: the Tour de France. Winners of the Tour de France typically go on to become household names, as well as the de facto best cyclists on the planet. For any competitive cyclist, entering and placing in the Tour de France is a lifelong dream, one that countless riders have spent their entire lives training for.
Britain offers some amazing places to explore on a bicycle, but there can be few locations within the UK that offer the remoteness, drama and sheer spectacle of the islands of The Outer Hebrides. The Hebridean Way guides cyclists from Vatersay in the south to the Butt of Lewis in the north: “10 islands, 6 causeways, 2 ferries and 1 unforgettable adventure”. In this episode of The Cycling Europe Podcast, writers, travellers and cyclists reflect upon their experiences of cycling The Hebridean Way. The chief executive of the local tourist board is also on hand to offer his advice.