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Hebridean Way – A Cycle From Castlebay To Callanish

Mon 25th March, 2019.

A day of travelling ended with a short cycle to a campsite west of Castlebay. Red wine and a warm sleep – too warm, yes!

Tuesday 26th.

I awoke aiming to catch the 7.15 crossing to S.Uist. After a fast cycle past numerous golden beaches I missed the boat by ten minutes, no problem. It’s dry and relatively mild.

In Oban I met a fellow Hebridean Way cyclist, Jamie travelling the world on an inheritance and a sense of adventure. He arrived by luck just before the boat left.

Once over the water we went off separately, meeting up again later for some sociable miles and a cafe stop.

Solo once more the cycling was fab. The wind pushed me rapidly through S.Uist. It is an atmospheric landscape, frequent ruins and rusting farm implements give it character.

Benbecula proved more featureless barr the vast windswept beaches. Green and lush fields elsewhere.With a change in cycling direction to the northwest the strengthening wind now hindered. It became a battle, I closed slowly upon a favourite campsite to find it shut.

With a heavy bag containing recently bought dinner ingredients I struggled on to Balranald campsite. Shut, no bother, I’m staying, nobody there and fortuitously toilets open and drinking water. The landscape of farmland in a wet place is enchanting and a great place for birdlife, an RSPB reserve.

Cooked a MEGA beef curry, red wine, tis the life. Windy, dry and mild.

Wednesday 27th.

A good long sleep had me refreshed, the wind assisted ride to the ferry port on Berneray a joy. A two hour wait again, no bother.

Jamie arrived with minutes to go, by luck again, he had no idea of the ferry times! On Harris we again cycled off separately after a bacon, egg and tea stop at the Butty bus.

After a couple of miles, outside a church, the road was blocked by a male only wake behind a coffin. I paused feeling that my bright orange top was a tad incongruous. Then the familiar mind-blowing mesmerising coastal vistas of West Harris. The wind when behind was fab, blowing me up steep inclines.
When side on a dangerous nightmare, blowing me into traffic. The long descent to Tarbert was exhilarating, I briefly met up with Jamie for the final time.

I decided to push on towards Callanish. The next couple of miles were slow and knackering into the gale, however on turning to face The Clisham it was behind once more and pushed me up. The descent however was a different story, I had to pedal furiously and lean into the wind. Glad then to change tack and get blown along to the Callanish turnoff at good speed. There followed another few difficult miles heading west, until at last, fair knackered, Callanish and a warm welcome from big sis.

Good times.

Words & pics – Chris Godlington

Miles – 149

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