Cycling the Hebridean Way
The conversation in the pub turned to taking a cycling trip in the Spring. The BBOB’s love a road trip every now and again. We have fond memories of a couple of coast to coast rides and two trips to the Mediterranean, alongside odd nights away in Yorkshire. This year, we have settled on cycling the Hebridean Way in May ( https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/see-and-do/activities/hebridean-way/hebridean-way-cycling-route ).
Cycling the Hebridean Way – the plan
We are going to start on the mainland and cycle about 50 miles to Oban. The ferry to Castlebay on Barra takes all afternoon, so day 1 looks fairly easy. A quick look at Vatersay that evening will save us a few miles the next day. Vatersay is the southernmost island on the trip.
On day 2 we need to get 10 miles done by 9.05 am, when the ferry to Eriskay shuts its gate. We get a 40 minute rest on the ferry and then take on the 58 miles to Berneray. Causeways link Eriskay to South Uist and again to North Uist. There is a chance to see the beach that Charles Edward Stuart landed at in 1745, to start his ill fated campaign. Some might prefer the spot where the SS Politician went down with 28,000 cases of whisky in 1941. I’m told much of it was “rescued” by the islanders.
At Berneray, the ferry to Leverburgh shuts its doors at 5pm and gets us to the Isle of Harris at 6.20pm. From here, there is still almost 19 miles to go to Tarbert. We will be ready for some supper by then !
After an epic day 2, the third day cycling the Hebridean Way offers 55 miles to our accomodation, plus a 20 mile round trip to the light house at the Butt of Lewis. However tired the legs are by then, surely we will be up for getting ourselves all the way to the top. Along the way, the standing stones at Callanish are a must. These are something like 5,000 years old and had some kind of religious significance long since lost.
Cycling the Hebridean Way – getting back to the car
We will have finished cycling the Hebridean Way at this point, but still need to get back to the car. On day 4 we cycle back to Tarbet by 3.55pm, for the Ferry to Uig on Skye. That gets in just after 6pm, and we then have 16 miles to go to Portree. A full on slap up supper is planned on our last night away!
Day 5, to get back to the car on the mainland is a bit of an epic. Armdale ferry is 42 miles and a good few hills away, with a deadline of 12 noon to catch the ferry to Mallaig. There is then a mere 52 miles to go after lunch with just a few hills on the route back to the car. The drive back to Yorkshire may well be caffeine heavy.
Cycling the Hebridean Way – getting ready
After a winter break and avoiding the ice, it is clearly time to get cracking or cycling the Hebridean Way will be a nightmare. It is also time for some hills. Only a fool takes to the hills when ice could end your day badly. On Thursday a beautiful sunny winter’s day beckoned, but we waited for the ice to clear and left after 10am. The route took in Almscliffe Crag and kept on the high ground behind Otley. A quick visit to Chevin Cycles was need to check out bike luggage for the trip ( of which more another time) – this is a great bike store, with friendly staff who know their stuff https://www.chevincycles.com/.
A great ride back through Harewood Estate, with daffodils bursting into life all over the place. Then a bit of a slog down the main road to Collingham, before turning up Jewitt Lane for a last decent hill before home. Check the route out on Strava here https://www.strava.com/routes/17199765.
Fewston Farm Shop Café
Last Sunday we took to the hills again as the great weather continued. https://www.strava.com/routes/17198555 shows you the route. Up to Almscliffe Crag again, but then continuing to Norwood Bank. Big Bill Challenge, complete with new gear set, decided he was ready for the whole of Norwood bank and dropped down to the bottom. Ian Two Sniffs Yak Yak and myself stayed high and cut across to join Norwood Bank around half way up. We agreed to meet Bill at Fewston Farm Shop Café – great decision this. We worked hard enough for our coffee, dropping down to Fewston reservoir and then climibing out of the valley to the café.
Bill was shattered with early season lack of fitness when he arrived. Turns out Norwood was a hellish grind.
Fewston Farm Shop is a well established favourite café and features at https://classicdays.co.uk/great-yorkshire-cycling-cafes/covering all of our favourite places for a mid ride break.
After refreshments there was still around 20 miles to cover, with route choices ranging from hilly to mountainous. Chose the easiest, but also vowed to get many more miles in. We need cycling the Hebridean Way to be a pleasure, not a torment.