Outer Hebrides

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Oldjohnw
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Location: Northumberland

Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby Oldjohnw » 9 Feb 2020, 1:19am

You can go (although this this might be longer) by train to Inverness , train to Kyle of Lochalsh, cycle across the bridge to Skye then ferry to Harris and Lewis. The train to Kyle is as good as the WH line for scenery.

You can get trains from Edinburgh to either of Glasgow's stations: it is Queen Street for the WH Line.
John

gloomyandy
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby gloomyandy » 10 Feb 2020, 10:34am

One thing to watch out for on the ferries from Mallaig is that they can sometimes be disrupted dues to tidal and other issues, this seems to happen more often than the Oban/Barra ferry. Also the arrival and departure times from Lochboisdale can be a little awkward for matching up with accommodation etc. Having said this alternate route is very useful. I've used it a number of times over the last few years to allow for various circular tours rather than the more usual end to end tour. Oh and if you are travelling up by car parking is much easier (and possibly more secure) in Mallaig than Oban.

Make sure to take your time to explore the islands as much as you can, many folks seem to rush through them (especially the Uists), which I think is a real pity. They are a wonderful part of the world and worth spending some time over. I was up there (again!) in November last year and spent almost a week in South Uist, you see a different side to them at this time of year, the light in particular was fantastic (and the weather was actually very good, cold but sunny).

ambodach
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby ambodach » 10 Feb 2020, 1:57pm

The trouble with the ferry at Mallaig is that the harbour is not really suited to larger vessels. Oban has more space so tends to be more reliable. I have not been through Mallaig for some time as I much prefer the Oban/Castlebay route. I always thought that the change to Mallaig/Lochboisdale was not a good idea but hauliers think they can save time using this route as a lorry is much faster than a ferry.

mikeymo
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Joined: 27 Sep 2016, 6:23pm

Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby mikeymo » 10 Feb 2020, 3:23pm

gloomyandy wrote:I was up there (again!) in November last year and spent almost a week in South Uist, you see a different side to them at this time of year, the light in particular was fantastic (and the weather was actually very good, cold but sunny).


We go every year, in the summer. Tell me, did you do any cycling in November? I've often thought of going in the Feb half term, or October half term, or some time like that. When the B&Bs will probably be free without booking, but I worry about the weather making it miserable. Low temperatures are no problem, and I know there's less risk of ice or snow than on the mainland, but incessant cold rain would be a pain.

We go the Mallaig route partly because of the later ferry time, and going that way you get to drive through Glencoe, which is a sight worth seeing.

mikeymo
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Joined: 27 Sep 2016, 6:23pm

Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby mikeymo » 10 Feb 2020, 3:27pm

ambodach wrote:The trouble with the ferry at Mallaig is that the harbour is not really suited to larger vessels. Oban has more space so tends to be more reliable. I have not been through Mallaig for some time as I much prefer the Oban/Castlebay route. I always thought that the change to Mallaig/Lochboisdale was not a good idea but hauliers think they can save time using this route as a lorry is much faster than a ferry.


Isn't there something about the harbour at Lochboisdale too? Being a bit shallow maybe? It might be that it makes sense from the point of view of the vessels that Calmac uses to go Mallaig-Lochboisdale and Oban-Castlebay.

mikeymo
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby mikeymo » 10 Feb 2020, 3:30pm

Oldjohnw wrote:You can go (although this this might be longer) by train to Inverness , train to Kyle of Lochalsh, cycle across the bridge to Skye then ferry to Harris and Lewis. The train to Kyle is as good as the WH line for scenery.

You can get trains from Edinburgh to either of Glasgow's stations: it is Queen Street for the WH Line.


Though there are many reports of cycling across Skye being a bit horrible now, traffic wise.

Oldjohnw
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Location: Northumberland

Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby Oldjohnw » 10 Feb 2020, 6:02pm

mikeymo wrote:
Oldjohnw wrote:You can go (although this this might be longer) by train to Inverness , train to Kyle of Lochalsh, cycle across the bridge to Skye then ferry to Harris and Lewis. The train to Kyle is as good as the WH line for scenery.

You can get trains from Edinburgh to either of Glasgow's stations: it is Queen Street for the WH Line.


Though there are many reports of cycling across Skye being a bit horrible now, traffic wise.


I went over last October and it was ok. Possible I was lucky.
John

gloomyandy
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby gloomyandy » 10 Feb 2020, 7:59pm

mikeymo wrote:We go every year, in the summer. Tell me, did you do any cycling in November? I've often thought of going in the Feb half term, or October half term, or some time like that. When the B&Bs will probably be free without booking, but I worry about the weather making it miserable. Low temperatures are no problem, and I know there's less risk of ice or snow than on the mainland, but incessant cold rain would be a pain.

We go the Mallaig route partly because of the later ferry time, and going that way you get to drive through Glencoe, which is a sight worth seeing.


I stayed in a mixture of the Gatliff trust hostels (at Rhenigadale and Howmore) and also the new hostel at Kilbride (which is very nice). I had the car with me but I cycled on 3 of the days including a trip over to Barra and cycling round the island. The weather was really rather good. There was actually snow on the tops of the hills and the roads where a little icy first thing in the morning (but they were all gritted!). I may have just been lucky though!

Obviously things are much quieter at that time of year, but I was surprised at how many of the cafes and things remain open, it was really rather good. I paid a visit to the archive in Lews castle and the staff there helped me locate the visitor book for Rhenigadale hostel from 1980 so that I could look up the details of my first visit to the Hebrides!

I keep an eye on the weather up there and so far things have been pretty wild this year. So I think if you want the winter experience Jan/Feb may be the time to go!

I've often used the crossing from Uig on Skye to get out to the islands as it seems to be slightly less weather dependent and has later sailings than Oban (and easier parking if you want to leave a car). It does make for a long drive though. On my November trip I drove up to a spot by Loch Scaven and slept in the car overnight so I could get the early ferry (winter timetable), had fantastic views as I drove the last miles to the Skye bridge!

LollyKat
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby LollyKat » 11 Feb 2020, 11:48am

mikeymo wrote:I've often thought of going in the Feb half term...


This year the Feb half term has coincided with storm Ciara - enough said! :lol:

Adnepos
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby Adnepos » 12 Feb 2020, 3:16pm

mikeymo wrote:...
Though there are many reports of cycling across Skye being a bit horrible now, traffic wise.


Confirm this, in peak season. Not too bad in May and early June and in September. Midges usually less bad at these times of year too.

PH
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Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby PH » 12 Feb 2020, 10:28pm

LollyKat wrote:
mikeymo wrote:I've often thought of going in the Feb half term...


This year the Feb half term has coincided with storm Ciara - enough said! :lol:

Depends where you live, the Derby half term hasn't started yet.
May and September are the months I'll tour in Scotland, I've had a couple of wet ones, but mostly they've been somewhere between fine and fantastic.

Oldjohnw
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Location: Northumberland

Re: Outer Hebrides

Postby Oldjohnw » 13 Feb 2020, 3:45am

PH wrote:
LollyKat wrote:
mikeymo wrote:I've often thought of going in the Feb half term...


This year the Feb half term has coincided with storm Ciara - enough said! :lol:

Depends where you live, the Derby half term hasn't started yet.
May and September are the months I'll tour in Scotland, I've had a couple of wet ones, but mostly they've been somewhere between fine and fantastic.


Agreed. Weather statistics support this approach.
John