Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
james0710
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Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby james0710 » 6 Nov 2018, 1:25am

Hi. I am completely new to cycle touring. I just want to fulfil a 30 year old ambition and cycle the Outer Hebrides. I plan to fly to Barra (a tiny aircraft) and cycle to Lewis and back. My question is about getting a bike up there. I could hire on the island (there is one bike shop) but I'd be stuck getting there to find the bike was unsuitable. Does anyone have feedback on Barra Bike Hire? What's my alternative? Send my own bike by post? Any suggestions welcome. Thanks

eileithyia
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby eileithyia » 6 Nov 2018, 7:44am

Hi and welcome. first things first, no experience of flying to Barra, so me the first question would be direct to the airline and ask the question.. Can I take a bike?

Secondly I would ask why is a ferry not an option... as that would be my go to option.
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blastroundthehead
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby blastroundthehead » 6 Nov 2018, 9:10am

Hi

I am going to do the Heb Way next April with two friends, travelling from NW England car sharing to Oban for the ferry.
Not sure of your reasons for the flight?

I believe the available bike hire situation is ok with a good variety of quality bikes, including electric.
I would research and pre-book, especially if you are planning to go in high season, which I would also do for the accommodation ... unless you are camping.

JohnW
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby JohnW » 6 Nov 2018, 3:22pm

It's worth looking at train and ferry - you can take your own bike.

ambodach
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby ambodach » 6 Nov 2018, 3:44pm

Warning for anyone planning on leaving a car in a Oban and taking the ferry with bike to Barra which is the logical option. At the moment car parking in Oban and next year on Mull is a nightmare. Don’t even think about it. Argyll and Bute Council would probably charge for bikes if they thought they could get away with it. The only option in Oban is longer term secure parking which is actually not too expensive but gives peace of mind. Try google.

JohnW
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby JohnW » 6 Nov 2018, 4:33pm

ambodach wrote:Warning for anyone planning on leaving a car in a Oban and taking the ferry with bike to Barra which is the logical option. At the moment car parking in Oban and next year on Mull is a nightmare. Don’t even think about it. Argyll and Bute Council would probably charge for bikes if they thought they could get away with it. The only option in Oban is longer term secure parking which is actually not too expensive but gives peace of mind. Try google.


Car??????? - I've always taken my own bike up there on the train - no parking problems and one doesn't have to come back to the same place.

F70100
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby F70100 » 6 Nov 2018, 5:56pm

The Twin Otter aircraft used for the Barra flights has about 17 seats I think, and although I don't have personal experience of how big the baggage hold is, I'm not sure a bike would fit in it if the flight was full and other passengers had baggage. Even getting a bike through the hatches might be a challenge. I think the dimensions below are in inches...

Technical-Specification-Viking.jpg

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andrew_s
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby andrew_s » 6 Nov 2018, 6:22pm

F70100 wrote:The Twin Otter aircraft used for the Barra flights has about 17 seats I think

It might be a couple more, which won't help the luggage space any.

I think the only way you'll take a bike will be if it's a Brompton.
People have done tours such as your planned ride on one, but if you don't already have one, it's a fair extra expense.

It it's just the experience of the flight, the first time I went to Barra, a couple of other cyclists asked about availability, and took the flight from Barra up to Benbecula and back. They still made Howmore Gatliff hostel the same evening as me, so they had got back in time for the last ferry, though they wouldn't have had time to explore Barra without a second night on the island.
I doubt you would be able to book the flight over people flying Glasgow-Benbecula or return, so it would be a matter of luck whether you could do it.

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geomannie
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby geomannie » 7 Nov 2018, 2:29pm

james0710 wrote:Hi. I am completely new to cycle touring. I just want to fulfil a 30 year old ambition and cycle the Outer Hebrides. I plan to fly to Barra (a tiny aircraft) and cycle to Lewis and back. My question is about getting a bike up there. I could hire on the island (there is one bike shop) but I'd be stuck getting there to find the bike was unsuitable. Does anyone have feedback on Barra Bike Hire? What's my alternative? Send my own bike by post? Any suggestions welcome. Thanks


My memory of passing the cycle hire place 4-5 years ago is that it is a very small operation. Having said that, give them a phone. I am sure that they would be delighted to chat.

If you do hire from them, you will have to return to Barra. The prevailing winds are usually from the south so most riders head north and return journey might well be harder work. If you are new to cycling its worth bearing that in mind.

Your own bike by ferry from Oban, returning by ferry from Tarbert to Uig in Skye might be worth considering. You would need to cycle down Skye (bigger than you think) to Kyle of Lochalsh for a train to Inverness.
geomannie

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al_yrpal
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby al_yrpal » 7 Nov 2018, 2:52pm

Leave your car in Helensburgh somewhere and get the train to Oban, they take bikes, then ferry to Barra. You could then do Harris to Uig after going around Lewis, cycle down to Ardrossan and get on that fantastic train journey back from Malaig. Supposed to be the most scenic in Britain. Much nicer trip.

Al
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Oldjohnw
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby Oldjohnw » 7 Nov 2018, 3:13pm

You can go by train to Kyle of Lochalsh via Inverness. Then cycle over the bridge to Skye, on to Uig and ferry to Harris.
John

Martyn B
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby Martyn B » 11 Nov 2018, 7:21pm

For info, my wife and I and a friend intend to do the Outer Hebrides by Brompton in early June next year. Unfortunately, our friend is not over enamoured with lengthy ferry crossings, so we investigated the possibility of flying from Glasgow to Barra, with the Bromptons as 'luggage'. I spoke with the operator, Loganair, who advised me that no bikes, folding or otherwise, would be permitted on this route, because of the limited capacity of the hold of the aircraft operating on this route.

Ferry it is then........

lowrider
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby lowrider » 14 Nov 2018, 8:11pm

Hi
I have done this trip before however it is a bit more problematic than it used to be. The trains from Glasgow to Oban have been or are due to be upgraded. This means of course that the number of bikes allowed is reduced. The new trains will only take two bikes instead of six. Also there is only one train a day that arrives before the ferry departure, so most who use the train will have to stay overnight in Oban and get the ferry the next day. Not an issue in its self but the reduced capacity and the increasing popularity is.

Book early for the train, you must book in advance, three months before departure if you want to be assured of a cycle space. As for accommodation book now for next year would be my advice. Throughout the highlands accommodation has become difficult to find at short notice or even at all over the last few years, also accommodation is not plentiful or cheap on the islands. Hostels or camping I think would be the only turn up on the day option, best to check though.

I would go from Barra right up to lewis and come off at Stornoway, there was a bike carrying bus service from Ullapool to inverness which met the last train to Glasgow. This meant that in theory you could get off the islands and back down to Glasgow with your bike on the same day. Check that that sevice is still availiable though.

I did enquire some years ago about bike hire, at that time there were two operators they were not based on Barra but at Stornoway and Howmore I think. Bikes were delivered to the ferry at Eriskay and collected in Stornoway, this could have changed of course.
Last edited by lowrider on 14 Nov 2018, 8:47pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Paulatic
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby Paulatic » 14 Nov 2018, 8:38pm

Re bikes on trains maybe things will change by next summer.
https://road.cc/content/news/243721-ext ... hland-line
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lowrider
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Re: Planning an Outer Hebrides tour

Postby lowrider » 14 Nov 2018, 8:58pm

Re bikes on trains maybe things will change by next summer.
https://road.cc/content/news/243721-ext ... hland-line


I missed that one that would be great if it comes to fruition, given the delevery of the new Edinburgh trains, I would not rely on it for next year. I would still book ahead especially if you want to get the ferry on the same day and not overnight in Oban.