Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

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gloomyandy
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Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby gloomyandy » 2 Jun 2016, 2:34pm

I'm just back from possibly the best 8 days cycling I've ever had in Scotland. Basically a circular tour starting in Tarbert (Harris) and down through the Uists, the new ferry route from Lochboisdale to Mallaig and then up the West coast (including Applecross) to Ullapool and returning via Stornoway to Tarbert. 313 miles of fantastic cycling. Mainly camping but also used the Hostel at Howmore. Not a drop of rain during any of the days (a little one night while I was asleep). Met with some great folks along the way. Hardest day by far was from Lochcarron to Shieldaig via the Bealach na Ba and Applecross, but what a day it was! Even the midges (which have started to appear), were not too bad. Oh and did I mention that I had a tail wind pretty much every day! Just as well as it was very windy out on the Hebrides, I feel sorry for anyone riding South to North! Details of the route here:
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1ASS8n ... sp=sharing

Anyone else been up the way the last week or so?


I've finally uploaded my pictures:
http://www.gloomy-place.net/photo/showi ... MG-000.jpg

First few are from an earlier shake down trip to the Yorkshire Dales.
Last edited by gloomyandy on 24 Jul 2016, 7:47am, edited 1 time in total.

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Paulatic
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby Paulatic » 2 Jun 2016, 3:16pm

Great to hear you'd a lovely time I'm just a little envious.
You might have come across @velobetty on your journey
https://vimeo.com/168920401
Whatever I am, wherever I am, this is me. This is my life

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E2E info

gloomyandy
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby gloomyandy » 2 Jun 2016, 3:50pm

I was further north this year. Loved the video though, must have taken a lot of time and effort to put together all of the shots for that!

Therealsouthstander
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby Therealsouthstander » 2 Jun 2016, 3:50pm

There's no better place in the world when the weather is like that..

I toured the same area 4 years ago and it was 28 Deg C nearly every day. I was even in the sea on the beach behind Barra airport


No rain , tail winds and no midges..



It does happen once or twice every summer and it Defo pays to go when the forecast looks good..


I'm pretty sure you had real nasty weather last year so it was deserved

gloomyandy
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby gloomyandy » 2 Jun 2016, 4:21pm

Well remembered! I did indeed have terrible weather last year! Probably along with lots of others!

I agree though it is a fantastic part of the world, particularly the islands. Don't get me wrong I loved the West coast (especially out around Applecross), but there is something very special about the islands. Though some things are changing, saw a lot more camper vans out there (possibly the weather and the new lower cost ferry prices?) and I also saw more "no camping" or "no overnight parking" type signs. Two may be linked. I guess it is good for the economy of the islands that they may be getting more visitors, but I hope it will not spoil them. I do hope that these new visitors not just driving through in a camper van bubble.

As an example on my first night I headed down to the area around Northton and the Temple cafe. I've not camped there before, but the road that runs west and then then along the beach:
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@57.80075 ... a=!3m1!1e3
now has a number of "private access road" signs on it and it looks to me like rocks have been placed to discourage parking (and camping). Similarly the track that continues on through the gate and on to the next bay:
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@57.80574 ... a=!3m1!1e3
Has a sign on the gate saying no camping without permission. I was there late on my first day and ended up squeezing in near the beach in the first link. In the morning a local walking his dog said hello and mentioned that the next bay along was a much nicer spot, when I asked about the no camping sign he said that oh it wouldn't have been any problem for someone like me with a bike and a small tent and that the sign wasn't aimed at campers like me. It was all very friendly and I'm sure if I'd arrived earlier and been able to chat and ask about a place to camp there would not have been a problem, but it does seem that perhaps things are changing.

rualexander
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby rualexander » 2 Jun 2016, 4:43pm

I had two weeks in the Hebrides from 8th May to 23rd May, started in Oban, went up through Mull, over to Ardnamurchan, up to Mallaig, out to Rum for a few days, back to mallaig, out to Lochboisdale, over to Barra, down to Tiree, back to Oban.
First week superb weather, second week a bit more mixed but still good, only saw midgies on two evenings.
Mallaig to Lochboisdale ferry definitely opens up more options but it seems to have had some reliability issues with docking at certain times from what I heard.
The Barra to Oban route on a wednesday goes via Tiree and Coll which also gives more options.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rualexand ... 8520594811

gloomyandy
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby gloomyandy » 2 Jun 2016, 5:11pm

Some great pictures there. You can really see the difference in the weather from one week to the next! Love the fire you were able to light, I bet that cheered the day up a little!



Yeah the locals seemed to be split on the new ferry. On the one hand they love having a ferry every day (I think before when it went to Oban it was only 3 days a week?). But the timing at 7am is not ideal from a point of view of having visitors to Lochboisdale. Also I got the impression that Mallaig was perhaps not as good as Oban for travel and shopping for locals. But the big problem has been that they have had a number of problems which means that the service has not been able to run some days. I was told that the thrusters on the ferry are not strong enough to maneuver in and out of Mallaig in some wind conditions. As a result sometimes it has ended up at Armadale or has been unable to sail if it was already at Mallaig.

Interestingly on my sailing the ship went into Mallaig and then continued on to Armadale, which was great as I actually wanted to go there. What was not so good was that I had to get off the ship (and take my bike), go to the booking office and buy another ticket and then get back on! Not possible to get a through ticket or buy one on the ferry.

Still I'm sure these are only teething problems and that things will get sorted out.

I was flicking through a copy of "The Fragile Islands" by Bettina Selby while at Howmore (I have a copy at home but last read it a few years ago) and one of the maps showed that when that book was written the ferry ran from Lochboisdale to Mallaig so the new service is really not that new! It's a book well worth reading by the way, gives an idea of how things have changed. I really like the things they have done at Howmore hostel. The kitchen is much bigger than a few years ago, but it still has a nice cosy feel to it. I spent a fun day or so there walking on the beach on chatting to folks.

robing
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby robing » 2 Jun 2016, 7:04pm

I agree there's nowhere better when you've got the weather. I did an outer Hebrides end to end last year which was great but only one week, too short! I'm going back at the end of June, Mull first (my favourite place, been going there since I was 12) then Barra and the Uists, Mallaig and then back to Mull via Ardnamurchan. I hope the weather holds! I'd like to do Coll and Tiree if I can fit it in. I'll probably leave my car on Mull. The new RET ferry prices mean taking the car is much cheaper.
I'm currently on a month's tour of the Pyrenees and Catalonia. The weather has been lovely, but that's more of a given down here!

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al_yrpal
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby al_yrpal » 2 Jun 2016, 7:18pm

Sounded great Andy. Did the islands some years ago in similar weather. Glad you enjoyed it after last year. When I took the Mrs by car it tipped and blew but theres nowhere in the UK better.

Al
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Therealsouthstander
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby Therealsouthstander » 2 Jun 2016, 9:01pm

Some brilliant photos rualexander, makes me want to go over soon. Will have to do with a weekend at Loch Rannoch this weekend ,the forecast is looking wonderful. :)

I was out for a spin in North Aberdeenshire this lunch time and the temp was 7 Deg C I kid you not. The wind was blowing straight from the North at 30 MPH so it made it feel even colder.. We are around 140 Miles directly East as the crow flies from Isle of Skye so it goes to show how lucky you were Andy..

gloomyandy
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby gloomyandy » 2 Jun 2016, 9:31pm

Yep I was very lucky. All through the trip I was bumping into people who said things like "Did you get soaked yesterday?" seems like it rained in various places, just not where I was!

robing: I did a similar trip (Barra/Uists/Harris/Skye/Ardnamurchan/Mull a few years ago and really enjoyed the ride through Ardnamurchan and Mull (though it is all good). Hope you get good weather for your trip!

PH
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby PH » 2 Jun 2016, 10:08pm

Some great tales and photos, some of them bring back memories others add places to the ever growing list. May is my favorite UK touring time, Wales this year, but I I'm hoping to visit some more Scottish islands next year.

khain
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby khain » 2 Jun 2016, 11:48pm

I'm thinking of cycling the Outer Hebrides this summer. What was the cost of the ferries?

rualexander
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby rualexander » 3 Jun 2016, 12:33am

khain wrote:I'm thinking of cycling the Outer Hebrides this summer. What was the cost of the ferries?


https://www.calmac.co.uk

gloomyandy
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Re: Eight fantastic days - Hebrides/West Coast tour

Postby gloomyandy » 3 Jun 2016, 1:05am

I can't remember the total cost of the ferries I used, but it wasn't that much (probably around £35 for the six journeys), I think I probably spent more money on the (rather good) CalMac breakfasts!