31/08/19 Train to Oban
Camping at the nearest place I could find.
Ferry to Castlebay on Barra. First couple of hours were nice; smooth and mostly sunny, through the gap between Mull and the mainland. Then it got choppy and wet, but outer islands visible. Lovely evening once on Barra, cycled down to Vatersay for a wild camp above the beach.
Oban and loading:
Barra and Vatersay:
02/09/19 Barra for an unplanned second night
Vatersay and Barra the next morning, when the weather started:
Memorial to those on a plane that crashed on Vatersay in 1944. Amazing that the bits of plane are still here.
A stop-off at the airport for a cafe visit, where the wifi informed me that the ferries to Eriskay were cancelled. Headed to a campsite a bit further north.
03/09/19 Catholics and Causeways
Ferries to Eriskay operational.
Crossing to South Uist.
A lot of catholic stuff.
Relentless wind and rain, nothing out there to the west to temper it. MOD area on the north west of South Uist, and the crossing over to Benbecula.
Over on North Uist there is nothing catholic whatsoever.
After a real slog through the wind and rain finally arrived at the campsite on the RSPB reserve at Balranald.
04/09/19 – Refuge from the storm
By some miracle my tent didn’t blow away in the night, but there was no way I was going to try cycling anywhere in the still gale-force winds. I splashed out on a happily available camping pod for the next night (well I got in there as soon as I could); I have never appreciated a roof over my head quite as much as this. The wind seemed to be considered severe by local standards, so I don’t think I was too much of a wimp. I wasn’t expecting electricity, a mini kitchen, or feathered friends, so these were luxury.
Impressed by the people (gravediggers?) working outside during it all.
05/09/19 (over the sea) to Skye
Feeling a bit weather-battered I thought my original plan to go on up to Lewis was a bit optimistic, so headed to Lochmaddy for the ferry to Skye (no ferries from Lewis connect with trains, I’d have to return to the mainland at Ullapool and then cycle some distance to pick up the train line).
Had a bit of time in Lochmaddy and had a look through the Runrig archive at the excellent local community centre/cafe/etc. Also home to the most friendly cat I have ever met.
On arrival in Uig it was dark and cold, but the petrol station shop had Cairn o’Mhor wine, so it wasn’t all bad.
Weather improved from today. Rode to Portree which was busy, seemed to be a music festival on. Sat in a bus shelter for quote a while and managed to get new train tickets home from Kyle of Lochalsh. The cheapest option turned out to be a seated ticket on the Sleeper from Inverness to Preston, which I was quite excited by.
Then on to Sligachan campsite for a couple of nights.
Sun today, and an unloaded ride up to Dunvegan and back, including a stop at a great coffee/book shop (at Struan I think).
The castle area/car park was really busy, but I wasn’t that interested so went a bit further up the road (the quality of which declines suddenly after the car park) to try and see the castle. Only afterwards did I learn that my friend’s Mother lives along this road. It (the castle) is quite hidden away and from the distance I was at, somewhat underwhelming.
Nice cloudless views over the Cullins on the out and back ride.
Dinner and lubrication in the Sligachan hotel this evening, both of which were excellent.
08/09/19 Skye to Kyle of Lochalsh
This was the only unpleasant cycling of the trip caused by other traffic, the road was busy and there were a lot of close passes. I think a lot of folk had come up for the weekend at the last minute for the nice weather. And were in a hurry to get home. There were a couple of young lads on what can only be optimistically described as motorbikes, who I was more of less keeping up with due to the number of stops they had to make.
Stopped at a nice cafe in Broadford, and then a bit of a mooch around in Kyleakin.
Then over the bridge, and a last few miles to a campsite.
09/09/19 Kyle of Lochalsh and the Sleeper home
A wet morning, and fortunately I arrived at the station in plenty of time as the bike reservation I had made by phone hadn’t gone through, which sounded like a fairly normal occurrence. Nice little museum there.
Had time to meet up with Kirsteen in Inverness, before getting the Sleeper to Preston, where I spent an uncomfortable couple of hours before an early train to Leeds.