Day 3 of the Ride – The Very Wet Very Windy One!

Cycling along the coastline of Berneray after a fine breakfast of smoked cod and poached eggs, I can’t help but note brooding clouds, so threatening that even my weather optimism can’t ignore.

We are cycling to catch the 9.20am ferry to Harris. Passing more flat tyred, battered cars I spy a bonkers dog manically circling in a front garden on an endless chase of a buoy (which seems to be attached to its tail). An old microwave with a new use as a postbox sits precariously on a post – my thoughts are cast to Royston Vasey (if you ever watched ‘The League of Gentlemen’ you will understand). I feel like I am a long way from home. Today is going to be the challenge of the trip.

This coastline is stunning even in cloud, which as we cross on the ferry, seems to be getting darker and thicker. The sea is calm and we are quite staggered, as we begin our ride on Harris, by the strong winds that seem to want to blow us back to where we came from.

A dear friend loves Harris and is so excited that we were sharing the experience of stunning beaches and beautiful seas. The weather isn’t having any of it! The 48 miles of cycling today involve the most climbing. No sunglasses as its too wet and they’re not fitted with wipers! Few views as the rain, like needles, is stabbing in my eyes. Have you ever had to pedal hard to go downhill? Joyce, my friend, let’s go back to Harris together one sunny day.

There are a couple of oases of calm warmth. The first, a recently built gallery, cafe The Manchair Kitchen. Top marks for comfort, art and scones – I could stay here all day…

But we don’t. We pedal up more hills, directly into Northerly, strong rain-carrying winds, eventually arriving Tarbert where we find the Harris Gin Distillery. We dry and warm ourselves in front of an open fire before tucking into a wholesome lunch. The staff are friendly and efficient – I want to stay indoors and drink gin.

Back on the roads and back up the hills, in the rain, against the wind. I manage the climbs – the fear that my hip would fail has gone. In fact, I have a little weep – who would have thought a year ago that I would be cycling up 2500′ with a backpack on and feel utterly cold and a bit miserable? What joy! I am doing it! I’m living my dream!

Our accommodation for the night, the Loch Erisort Inn, is tired but comfortable and welcoming. The bath is hot and the Guinness is good. As we sit by the window eating a delicious supper, two weary, fluorescent cyclists roll up in the dusky car park. It is J and J! Hurray! The amazing couple that we met a couple of days ago are here! We share food and tales of ‘High Adventure’ before they head off by taxi to Stornoway to buy essentials as all of their luggage is in a different part of the Outer Hebrides. This has been a memorable day in so many ways!

Day 4 – The Part Sunny Windy One

Today we are six. J and J are cycling with us until lunchtime before pushing on the Butt of Lewis to complete their Outer Hebridean journey. The hardest day is behind us and my body and spirits are feeling good. There is an opportunity for a little sight-seeing, G seems to have reached an understanding with his trailer and our lovely group are chatty and interesting. The sun is even threatening to come out as we skirt down the side of the Loch up to Borve in Lewis. Today I am content …

We visit the Callanish Standing Stones, second only to Stonehenge – very nice scones in the cafe too!

A few more miles up the road, and a slight diversion off the route, we arrive at the Blackhouse Museum. I’m keen to visit here and get a feel of this place, having read the Peter May, Lewis trilogy. They make a good lunch here too – I do think about food rather a lot don’t I?

It is time to say goodbye to our new pals. J and J are very special people. As they head off I hope that we will meet again. It is rare to meet a couple that are interesting, interested and inspirational.

Little had we expected to briefly catch up with them at the Morven Gallery an hour later! Oh, joy!

Fabulous art both inside and outside – and good coffee cake too!

Our 50-mile day ended at the Borve House Hotel – luxury on the north of Lewis. We are all quite weary now. Supper is good but going to sleep is even better. We have pedalled 198 miles so far … ‘to sleep perchance to dream’.

To be continued …

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Published by Carol

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