Hebrides tour? Or other Scottish Island tours with young one

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Richy75
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Hebrides tour? Or other Scottish Island tours with young one

Postby Richy75 » 11 May 2015, 9:08am

Hi , we will be doing our first 'proper' tour sometime in June and need a little advice. My son is11 and is quite a stong cyclist however has only done the Berwick to newcastle part of the coast and castles route. He was 9 at the time and managed 96 miles in 3 days fully loaded with gear (sweets ) . I need a starter for this tour in that which way is best to do it ie oban . Start or harris/North to start. Also if we left the car at say Oban what are the logistics like for getting back to Oban from the finish ie is There some sort of bus etc which would take us and the bikes back to Oban . We are planning on doing the whole trip by wild camping and doing over 5 to 7 days . I don't want to put him off as he really enjoyed the coast and castles but expect this would be more hilly/windy . And advice in particular route and wild camping would be appreciated ! 
Last edited by Richy75 on 11 May 2015, 10:18pm, edited 1 time in total.

thayer19
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby thayer19 » 11 May 2015, 11:39am

I'm planning a similar tour in June though slightly longer. Anyway, my knowledge on the area is pretty slim and people on here will be able to help a lot more, however, one thing I do know is cycling North - South is generally considered to have the winds (prevailing winds south - south west) continually against you so most people will always ride South - North starting on Barra. Check out Calmac ferries they offer loads of 'hopscotch' tickets so planning a route based on ferries is pretty simple.

I'm also planning on wild camping on my tour and am largely going for a flexible approach i.e. if its absolutely horrible out then I'll take refuge in a hostel (Gatliff (sp?) hostels are worth checking out) or at least camp in the hostels grounds. I've also heard camping on the Eastern sides of isles can provide more sheltered areas though the West I assume will offer more scenic views. Lastly, midges love hanging around low lying water so again those scenic views can become pretty irritating if the midges come in.

Merry_Wanderer
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby Merry_Wanderer » 11 May 2015, 12:08pm

Getting back to the start (Oban) can be pretty difficult as far as I am aware. I am planning an Outer Hebrides tour - Vatersay to Butt of Lewis for next May and I had been planning to drive to Uig on the Isle of Skye and take the ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist then take our 2 bikes on the bus to Eriskay (island connected to the southern tip of South UIst) and onto the Island of Barra and cycle to Vatersay;

Here's a link to bus services in Scotland and travelling with a bike;

http://www.travelinescotland.com/cms/co ... bike.xhtml

When we get to the Butt of Lewis we will be cycling to Stornoway, staying over night then taking the bus to Tarbet on Lewis to get the ferry back to Uig on Skye.

I have walked and cycled in the Outer Hebrides before and one thing not to underestimate is the strength of the wind. I remember one day planning to cycle from North Uist to South and only getting as far as Benbecula because the wind was almost blowing me backwards!

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andrew_s
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby andrew_s » 11 May 2015, 12:43pm

Options for return to Oban:

a) Ride back.
Not really feasible if all the time you have is a week. The shortest route is Tarbert - Uig ferry, ride across Skye, ferry Armadale to Mallaig, ride to Lochaline, ferry to Mull, ferry Craignure to Oban. There's also the Kilchoan - Tobermory ferry, that works out about 5 miles further, or Corran ferry & Connel bridge (not via Mull) that's about 8 miles further than Tobermory.

b) ferry to Stornoway to Ullapool, ride to Inverness, train

c) ferry Tarbert - Uig, ride to Armadale, ferry to Mallaig, train

d) ferry Tarbert - Uig, ride to Kyle, train

e) ferry to Stornoway to Ullapool, Highland bike bus via Ullapool/Durness to Inverness, train
http://www.inverness-durness-highland-bike-bus.co.uk/
May be a bit late to book this.

Whatever, you'll probably need to investigate train timetables.

Norman H
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby Norman H » 11 May 2015, 1:32pm

Are you committed to an End to End ride of the Hebrides?

As others have pointed out getting back to Oban in a week is going to be tough. Why not leave the car at Uig on Skye and take the ferry to Lochmaddy, plan a roughly circular route on the Hebrides, and return to Uig from Tarbet.

https://www.calmac.co.uk/article/2650/Hopscotch-14-Harris--Uists

You could explore Uist and Harris. Reinigeadal and Huisinis are well worth a look as also is the road out to Mealasta. The Butt of Lewis, apart from the lighthouse, is a bit disappointing

windysmithy
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby windysmithy » 11 May 2015, 2:02pm

the buses on the islands are all set up to take bikes, we went from the buttof lewis back to stornoway to save retracing our steps. (and the time thing).

So once you get to the butt of lewis, you could get a bus back to the bottom of harris, then back on the ferry and buses down the islands all the way back to barra. Why not? can always cycle a bit if you feel like it too. There are Worse places in the world to wait for a bus too.

Then ferry back to oban.

If the winds going the wrong way, then buses up to the butt, then ride back. Simple.

Id think about going in the hostels if you can, its not the average holidaymaker that youll find in there! and a bit more respite from the youknowwhats.

oh yes, good book on cycling on the islands, get it or have a look at one in the library if you can. Richard barrett . cycling in the hebrides

http://www.cicerone.co.uk/product/detai ... VCn8Relgw8

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jamesgilbert
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby jamesgilbert » 11 May 2015, 2:05pm

Yet another option (but again you'd need to check train times to see if it's feasible):

- Leave the car at Tyndrum
- Train to Oban, ferry to Castlebay
- Cycle up through Barra, Eriskay, the Uists and the southern bit of Harris (3-4 days)
- Ferry from Tarbert to Uig on isle of Skye
- Cycle across Skye to Armadale & short ferry over to Mallaig (2-3 days)
- Train from Mallaig to Tyndrum

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al_yrpal
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby al_yrpal » 11 May 2015, 2:21pm

jamesgilbert wrote:Yet another option (but again you'd need to check train times to see if it's feasible):

- Leave the car at Tyndrum
- Train to Oban, ferry to Castlebay
- Cycle up through Barra, Eriskay, the Uists and the southern bit of Harris (3-4 days)
- Ferry from Tarbert to Uig on isle of Skye
- Cycle across Skye to Armadale & short ferry over to Mallaig (2-3 days)
- Train from Mallaig to Tyndrum


+1 Excellent route. I have done it twice.

Al
Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. CTC gone but not forgotten!

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subandean
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby subandean » 11 May 2015, 6:34pm

We did a similar tour a couple of years ago, there is so much to see along the way I think a week will be a blur. (and a challenge). Depends if you want to stop and see things along the way or just cover the miles.
We took the ferry from Oban to Barra and gradually moved N through Uist, Bernaray to Harris eventually to Tarbert The east coast road on Harris is very special with amazing rocky scenery and the west is sand dunes and the machair. From Tarbert we took the ferry to Uig and rode to Armadale to catch the ferry to Mallaig then the train south.
The road through Skye has been "improved" and we found it unpleasant to ride on as a lot of the traffic is very fast.
The general advice is to ride from S-N and we followed this and had a strong headwind for a week!
If you only have a week you could consider shortening the itinerary and take a ferry back to Oban from Uist. The beaches on Uist are magnificent.
The Hebridean weather is generally good in May June but it can be wet and windy, you may wish to stay at the Gaitcliffe Hostel at Howmoor, great place, or the Bernard hostel - you just turn up.
Whatever you decide you will have a great trip, the Hebrides are a fantastic place to visit.

Richy75
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby Richy75 » 11 May 2015, 10:14pm

Thanks for the replies . Taking this into consideration about getting from north to south it's also more of the boy is getting older and having quality time together on the bikes/camping etc. I would consider a shorter trip even just a few islands with a bit of ferry hopping along the way . As long as we can wildcamp , fires on the beach etc and he has just bought himself a telescopic spinning rod that fits nicely in his pannier :). Would anybody have other suggestions of Which islands would be good for this without too much logistics involved

ambodach
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Re: Hebrides tour? Or other Scottish Island tours with young

Postby ambodach » 12 May 2015, 10:31am

You are being a bit too ambitious I think. Go to Oban leave car at Hazelbank or Stoddart. Ferry to Castlebay then do Vatersay and Barra. Over to Eriskay and up through S.Uist to Lochmaddy.Ferry to Uig and down through Skye to Mallaig and then to Mull and so back to Oban.At Lochmaddy you could go up to Berneray for a visit. Could easily take a day doing this.
There are side roads on S. Uist worth exploring, As others have said you have to consider the possibility of strong headwinds. I took a week doing this at a mostly easy pace.

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subandean
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Re: Hebrides tour? Or other Scottish Island tours with young

Postby subandean » 12 May 2015, 6:03pm

I have two other options that may be of interest:
Leave car in Oban then;
1 take ferry to Mull (http://www.isle-of-mull.net), cycle around the island, plenty of wild camping opportunities, fabulous cliffs, beaches, sea eagles, fishing.

or

2 ferry hop to the smaller islands of Coll (http://www.visitcoll.co.uk) then onto Tiree (http://www.isleoftiree.com).then back to Oban. Great pub on Coll with camping, fishing, beaches, more cycling and wild camping opportunities on Tiree with RSPB reserves.

bogmyrtle
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Re: Hebrides tour? Or other Scottish Island tours with young

Postby bogmyrtle » 12 May 2015, 10:42pm

It's much easier to make a circular route by sticking to the Inner Hebrides also ferry journeys are shorter. Believe me almost 5 hours from Oban to Castlebay on choppy seas is not pleasant.
Arran, Islay, the Mull of Kintyre and Mull are all beautiful and have a bit more variety that's likely to capture a childs attention.
I would suggest parking at Ardrossan, ferry to Arran (Scotland in minature). Go clockwise round Arran to Lochranza, ferry to Claonaig, actross the top of the Mull of Kintyre to Kennacraig to Islay, either Port Ellen or Port Askaig. From Port Askaig you can go to Jura and on a Wednesday there is a ferry to Colonsay. From Islay back to Kennacraig over the top of MOK to Claonaig ferry to Lochranza then back to Brodick round the bit of Arran you haven't done already. Arran and the top of MOK re hilly but the rest are reasonably flat but the wind can blow you to a standstill.

Alternatively, park at Oban, ferry to Mull go round Mull clockwise taking the opportunity to go Iona. Ferry from Tobermory (best fish and chips in the country from the mobile on the quay) to Kilchoan. Detour westwards to Ardnamurchan lighthouse (the most westerly point on the mainland). Back along the Ardnamurchan peninsula to Lochaline. Ferry to Fishnish. cycle to Craignure and then ferry back to Oban. There is a big hill between Dervaig and Tobermorey.
Hopscotch tickets are the cheapest way of making multiple ferry journeys.
A bike does more miles to the banana than a Porsche.

Merry_Wanderer
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Re: Hebrides tour? Or other Scottish Island tours with young

Postby Merry_Wanderer » 12 May 2015, 11:26pm

For smaller islands accessible from Oban try Mull, Iona, Kerrera, Luing, Seil, Lismore Colonsay to name but a few. Beautiful sandy beaches, wildlife a plenty and stunning views and short ferry journeys. Ok, Colonsay is 2.5 hours as the longest

jgurney
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Re: Hebrides tour

Postby jgurney » 13 May 2015, 11:43am

Richy75 wrote: I would consider a shorter trip even just a few islands with a bit of ferry hopping along the way .


Then I'd say stick to the Southern isles. Sail from Oban to Castlebay, maybe ride to Vattersay (causewayed), ride over Barra, ferry to Eriskay, and ride up the spine road across South Uist, Benbeccula and North Uist to Bernaray (all connected by causeways). Then turn back and ride by variations of the route (e.g. other way round N. Uist, coast road instead of inland across Benbeccula), or use the cycle-carrying bus if required, to Lochmaddy (S. Uist) and sail back to Oban.

These southern isles have less hills and a lot less motor traffic than Lewis and Harris.