Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
joegallus
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Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby joegallus » 23 Jun 2012, 2:28pm

Hi all
I am planning to go ‘chillax’ touring in the Hebrides next May. I am flexible on dates but thought it might be good to go for about 8-10 days, taking in one or other of the bank holidays. May should be good as it will help to avoid the dreaded midges. The rough plan is to leave the car at Oban (I will be travelling up from S Wales). Ferry across and cycle Barra to the Butt. Back down to get the ferry from Tarbert to Skye and back to Oban from there. I am not wedded to this route and am happy to explore other route options (there are a few to choose from!). I will be taking camping kit.
I am 52 and have done a few medium length tours in the recent past (ranging from 300 - 900 miles). I find that I tend to bimble along about 9-10mph and my preferred daily mileage is around the 35 miles mark, but I can up that to 50 mpd if needed. I am keen to visit as many pubs as possible and to be in good enough shape at the end of the day to see the sights and join in any local festivities. I am reasonably well house trained and sociable.
Any advice/comments from others who have toured this area, on good routes/places to go, etc, welcomed.
best wishes
Joe

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al_yrpal
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby al_yrpal » 23 Jun 2012, 3:54pm

You will be disappointed with the pubs because there is only a handful and they serve the most digusting beer.

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. What do you do to make a difference?

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Dean
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Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby Dean » 23 Jun 2012, 4:48pm

I enjoyed the 80 bob at the Cross Inn near the Butt...

Richard Barrett
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby Richard Barrett » 23 Jun 2012, 5:20pm

There is a stunningly good guidebook on touring the Hebrides just published.......... (well I would say that wouldn't I? We are having a launch event at Cotswold Outdoor, Westend Glasgow from 2-5 on Saturday 7th July with whiskey tasting courtesy of Isle of Jura. Drop in a say hello - probably have to shoulder your way through a crowd of drunks though

joegallus
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby joegallus » 23 Jun 2012, 6:33pm

Hi Richard. Funny you should mention the book. My copy arrived this morning. I have had a whiz through the book and a very helpful resource it is! Lots of good practical information to help with planning logistics, routes, etc. The topographical charts are helpful and give a good sense of the ups and downs along the way. The fact that the book covers such a large and diverse area means I expect to be dipping into it for years to come. Thanks for putting this together. I hope you sell loads of them!
I am a bit disconcerted to read in one of the posts that there is a scarcity of pubs on the islands! I will need to factor that into the plan. I suspect that my usual allowance for emergency supplies of usquabae will need to be revisited!

garibeet
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby garibeet » 24 Jun 2012, 9:13am

I did the same tour a couple of years ago, great trip. Enough pubs and coffee/tea shops along the way to have a relaxing time.
The new surface on the Glenfinnan road made all the difference, great views all the way. I may look at my schedule closer to the time and see about coming along.

Gari

Russcoles
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby Russcoles » 24 Jun 2012, 9:27am

I might be tempted to join you. Since doing John O Groats to Bristol this May I had been thinking of going back and doing more touring on the West coast of Scotland next year.

joegallus
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby joegallus » 24 Jun 2012, 10:21am

HI Gari and Russ, if you are anything like me, by the time we get to winter and you start getting the maps out to think about the following year - this trip will seem like a good idea! So put it on the back burner for now, and if you can get the time off next year you are more than welcome. You will be able to see how it shapes up in terms of dates, route etc, through this thread. I will be driving to and fro Oban from S Wales, so M4,M5,M6, etc. If any one wants to throw their kit in the car, they are welcome. I can carry 3 bikes on the back of the car.
best wishes
Joe

mullinsm
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby mullinsm » 24 Jun 2012, 12:59pm

Put me down as a very possible, as long as it doesn't conflict with kid's birthdays on 3rd and 5th of May- would be happier with nearer 50 mpd as it helps to burn off the ale.
Mike.

Starfire
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby Starfire » 24 Jun 2012, 9:42pm

I cycled the route in 2006 and would love to do it again with some company. I have to apply for my leave in October for the following year so I would need to know well in advance the dates you would be considering.

mattsccm
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby mattsccm » 25 Jun 2012, 7:38am

Funnily enough a group of us are doing the same thing next year. Our sticking point is how to get back to cars on the mainland. At the moment the favourite seems to be leave the car at Fort William, cycle to Oban and ferry. At the other end retrace our steps and ferry to Skye then either road via the Skye bridge or the small ferry to the south and a bit of rough stuff to cut off the corner to Fort Bill.
We considered a train but the logistics were just silly. Couldn't get any co-operation from the train companies to get 6 people from Gloucestershire to Oban for example. The message was " ask each of the companies who supply the trains" . "how I do I know I asked?" They then suggested that as this was variable, I couldn't!
Anyway 140+ quid 1 way put me off.

mullinsm
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby mullinsm » 25 Jun 2012, 8:42am

mattsccm wrote:Funnily enough a group of us are doing the same thing next year. Our sticking point is how to get back to cars on the mainland. At the moment the favourite seems to be leave the car at Fort William, cycle to Oban and ferry. At the other end retrace our steps and ferry to Skye then either road via the Skye bridge or the small ferry to the south and a bit of rough stuff to cut off the corner to Fort Bill.
We considered a train but the logistics were just silly. Couldn't get any co-operation from the train companies to get 6 people from Gloucestershire to Oban for example. The message was " ask each of the companies who supply the trains" . "how I do I know I asked?" They then suggested that as this was variable, I couldn't!
Anyway 140+ quid 1 way put me off.


Had you thought about one way car hire? We used it for our end to end - pick up a car in Norwich, drive to Penzance and leave it there and we did the same from Inverness at the other end. Fort william and Oban both have Enterprise agencies I think and it's cheaper than the train......

mattsccm
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby mattsccm » 25 Jun 2012, 9:00am

Hmm

joegallus
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Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby joegallus » 25 Jun 2012, 7:41pm

Hmm indeed - but I have a cunning plan!
Leave the car in Oban and get the ferry to Castlebay – it seems there is only one per day and it leaves in the afternoon. This means it will not get to Castlebay in time for the last ferry to Eriksay that day. So a long crossing and a short ride to Barra. Find a place to kip to await the first ferry across to Eriksay the next morning. 1 day
Eriksay to the Butt – around 150 miles (5000ft ascent) 3 or 4 days
Bus or cycle from the Butt back to Tarbert (about 60 miles). There are several buses per day from the Butt, that link at Stornoway. The buses take bikes, if anyone wants a rest day they can get the bus and maybe take the heavy stuff of others that want to cycle back? Probably will not make the last ferry to Uig that day (only 1 or 2 ferries per day) 1 day
Ferry to Uig and cycle to Armadale 60 miles (2500 ft ascent) 1 or 2 days.
Armadale – Malling ferry (regular ferries all day) and 60 miles (3200ft ascent) to Kilchoan 1 or 2 days
Kilchoan – Tobermory ferry (regular ferries all day). 20 miles (1000ft ascent) to Craignure. Craignure – Oban ferry (regular ferries all day) -pick up the car and away! 1 day
So 8-11 days (not including travel either end). This is on a par with the distance for the Fort Bill option suggested by Matt. The advantage of this one is that car(s) are left in Oban and you return there, you also get to take in a bit of Mull.
Distances/times etc worked out using the CalMac schedule for this year, BRT and Richard Barrett’s book.
As I said in my OP I aim to have a relaxed approach to the trip, so I might be a bit slow for some. But if you want to join in for all or part of the route you are more than welcome. At this stage I am envisaging day 1, i.e. the crossing to Castlebay, being either Saturday 18th or 25th May (b/h and half term (in Wales) will be w/c Monday 27th).
Hope this helps – if anyone can see any flaws in the plan please let it be known!
Thanks
Joe

joegallus
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Location: South Wales

Re: Fancy a tour of the Hebrides in 2013?

Postby joegallus » 25 Jun 2012, 7:52pm

PS Hopscotch 25 £36 and Hopscotch 7 £13.20 (this year's prcies) get you over all the crossings.