Outer Hebrides Tour Diary, 9th - 15th May 2010
Nigel, Chris and Andrew’s Outer Hebrides Tour Diary, 9th – 15th May 2010
(Nigel Cameron, Chris Glithero and Andrew Bywater)
Photos added to Gallery
With bikes, panniers and riders loaded, we depart 4.30pm via A1 to Stockton-on-Tees where a scrumptious evening meal, overnight accommodation and breakfast was provided by Nigel’s amazing ‘89yr-young’ mum Betty.
7am depart Betty’s for scenic drive to Oban via the A66 where a snow flurry and temperatures of nearly freezing on the Pennines reassured us that winter kit was the right decision. Sustained with pea soup at a Loch Lomond café, we finally reached the car park in Oban where bikes were assembled and panniers fitted. We boarded the ferry for the 5 hour crossing to the Island of Barra with very little time to spare but soon settled in to wild-life watching and chatting to other like-minded travellers.
Our overnight hostel in Castlebay on Barra was basic but adequate; an eye-opener to at least one member of our party who had never ‘bunk housed’ before. With the sun shining on magnificent scenery we got a taste of the strong head wind that was to dominate our tour as we set off via a look at the beach airport for the ferry to Eriskay which is connected to South Uist via a causeway.
What Nigel had described as an easy 50 mile tour to our next stop, turned our to be more like an 80 mile dash across the islands of South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist and Berneray, only just catching the last ferry to our next overnight bunk house at Leverburgh on Harris.
The nights accommodation at the Am Bothan bunk house was a vast improvement and comes highly recommended for future NR tourers, but in our haste to depart for the next leg we missed breakfast again much to the dismay of at least one of us. The promise of a café stop never materialized until we reached the town of Tarbert some 25 miles, a strong northerly and a big climb later.
The beautiful white sand beaches and unusual scenery were very special and our esteemed leader kept us motivated with positive remarks such as: ‘not far to go’ and ‘its all down-hill from now’.
After lunch the decision was made not to proceed further north to Stornoway as planned, but to return via the picturesque but long and hilly eastern route along the single track Golden Road (- thus named due to its huge cost) back to our bunk house in Leverburgh.
We woke to a gale force southerly and heavy rain which prompted major discussion as to the best method of return to Oban.
A fellow traveller offered us transport in the windowless back of his van (to the Tabert-Uig ferry and on to Broadford on the Isle of Skye), but thankfully, having seen the forecast of improved weather later we made the decision to go for the ferry back to Berneray and take the western loop round North Uist, Nigel hoping and praying for a glimpse of the double world heritage island of St Kilda (41 miles WNW of Griminish Point, viewpoint on the side road below the radar station on the summit of South Clettraval hill on N.Uist), and the other two fantasising about an all-day breakfast stop magically appearing in the barren landscape.
After a little respite from the headwind and the weather brightening, we again attacked for the 70 mile run via a couple of feed stops to our overnight caravan, arriving at Lochboisdale at about 8pm, and dining at the rather smart hotel in town still dressed in our lycra.
Fri. / Sat. 14th/15th
The 8.55 ferry to Oban took nearly 6 hours and involved a little sunbathing on the top deck, more wildlife spotting (including a basking shark)…… and a good meal. Then it was bike dismantling, packing the car and setting off at 3pm for the long drive home arriving at 3am on Saturday morning after a pizza stop at Nigel’s brother Hugh’s house near Manchester.
All in all a great success, and very well organised by Nigel whose sanity was severely challenged by two old men! (Sorry Chris)
Finally it must be stated that although all three of us fought the wind and hills gallantly, joint top marks go to Nigel and Chris who shared the 1000+ mile drive to Oban and back without a cross word between them. Well nearly.