Cycle Day 1 – The Sunny One – or Trailer Trauma!

Our first day of cycling today along this string of beautiful islands made from the oldest rock in the world. Our expectations are high. The guide book, ‘Cycling on the Edge’ has promised a route that takes in natural beauty, natural history and astounding evidence of man’s historical association with these islands. Accommodation is booked in advance for the week – I hope that it will improve from this over-priced, under-serviced, weary hotel where I have regained my land legs. I must say, the view as I pulled back the curtains, of Kisimul Castle in the bay, is stunning.

The skies are cloudy but the sun is fighting through. Within 200 metres of the Castlebay Hotel – an incident! The trailer overturns and skitters across the road having ricocheted off a battered parked car with a flat tyre. G’s furious language (thankfully he hasn’t tumbled too) only adds to the anguish of the moment and I fear for Pippa’s sensibilities!

Man v Trailer – a week long endurance challenge!

We cycle (cautiously) south to the start of the Hebridean Way on Vatersay.

What a beautiful island and when the trailer nuts are tightened and the wobble seems to be more controlled we can begin to enjoy our adventure – until it happens again! And again! The third time the trailer tumbles a party of nursery children are close by and I plead with G to hold his colourful language. The trailer looks like it has endured a ’round the world trip’; it is frayed and grazed, battered and torn. Indeed so are our nerves!

A ferry trip (no sick bag for me today on these calmer seas), further nut tightening and adjustments to the trailer and we settle to a most wonderful, incident-free afternoon up the island of Eriskay. The beaches are so inviting but we have quite a distance to travel and cake was more important than a paddle!

This is turning out to be a sunny day in a breath-taking part of the British Isles. Time for lunch we agree and a most beautifully positioned cafe appears on the horizon! Delicious food, stunning beach.

By the time we reach the Dark Island Hotel we have 53 miles of cycling in our legs and the final few miles have seen a clouding of the weather accompanied by drizzle and winds. We’re weary and delighted that our rooms have spa baths and wide comfortable beds.

Sunkissed and stripy!

Supper is great (S’s first mussel experience) and the evening is made even more memorable when we strike up a conversation with fellow cyclists J and J. They were on the ferry and at the same hotel as us last night. These two delightful American travellers share several tales of daring do and only tiredness breaks up the comfortable chat.

Cycle Day 2 – The Windy One

Today we cycle against the wind from Benbecula, North Uist to Berneray. No ferries, just three very exposed causeways. During the 46 miles today, we experience some beautiful coastlines but also notice the number of abandoned properties and wrecked old vehicles. The cafes we visit seem to be part community galleries, the art is inspirational. I can’t wait to get my brushes and palette knives out. I find myself tucking into scones or coffee cake at every opportunity! And why not? I’m a ‘super-cyclist’ and the northerly wind is draining – cake is, in my opinion, the finest fuel!

We are well off the beaten track now. It’s 6 o’clock and we’re ready for some comfort – and the wind is still blowing! We find it at the Tir-nan-Og Bed and Breakfast at the end of a white sandy track – the last property on the island. Tir-nan-Og means ‘land of the young’ – I can’t believe that our southern English hosts have then been there for 26 years – this is no Brigadoon! The B & B is isolated, on a beach – absolutely stunning. As if knowing that I’m longing to stroll on the sands and take photographs, the elements shift … I have precious time with my thoughts, my husband, my camera and the evening sun. We receive homely food and fresh beds (though ours is very old and lumpy). Fortunately, we’re so exhausted that the odd protruding spring will not come between us and deep sleep. Just to put your minds at rest, the trailer behaved impeccably today – no overturning. In fact, it even welcomed two bottles of Viognier, bought at the Co-op for our evening ‘recovery’ meal.

To be continued ……

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Published by Carol

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