At the end of July we had a really amazing 10 days in Scotland. Work had been intense for both of us and we were getting sick of the time spent on computers and cell phones. Time to get away from it all! We first looked into a trip to Iceland but decided because of ridiculous ticket prices and amount of time in a car that it wasn’t ideal. Then after poking around on the internet, we decided on the outer hebrides islands on the west coast of Scotland. Why?
1. Middle of nowhere. It takes a 6 hour ferry ride from Oban to Barra. Single track roads along the entire island chain. Very little wifi and shaky cell phone reception.
2. Bikeable. The islands are small and uninhabited enough to make biking the whole trip manageable and pleasant. Also, in comparison to most of the Scottish highlands, it is relatively flat (relatively being the key term here)
3. Wild camping. I am not a fan of camping in organized camp grounds…but in Scotland you can actually “wild camp” – pitch a tent anywhere, technically even on someone’s front yard. Though I don’t recommend actually pitching a tent in someone’s front yard – there are so many incredible camping spots!
4. Wild, raw beauty of the place. The pictures don’t do the outer hebrides justice. Reading about it in articles I could not help thinking – this is exactly where I want to go. Yes, cities and beaches and tropical climates are lovely vacation spots. But for some reason I am much more attracted to these unpredictable northern places. In a description of the islands:
“In many ways, the islands are the last bastion of the old Highland life. Though newer industries such as fish farming have been introduced, the traditional occupations of crofting, fishing and weaving still dominate and, outside Stornoway, life is very much a traditional one, revolving around the seasons and the tides. Relentlessly battered by fierce Atlantic winds, the islands can seem a hostile environment and an unappealing proposition. Much of the interior is bleak peat bog, rocks and endless tiny lochs, and the long straggling crofting communities only add to the feeling of desolation.
But anyone who has stood on a cliff top and felt a thrill at the power and potential of all that water should come here. Nowhere else in Britain is there such a sense of emptiness and of the sheer forces of nature”
So, that last line does a pretty darn great job describing exactly what I am looking for in a vacation spot…
Over the next week I will blog pictures of our bike trip. This is something I highly highly recommend to anyone to do – just thinking about the trip makes me emotional (in a good way!). The temperamental weather and intense bike riding combined with the beauty, quiet, and excellent scotch of the place really made it a trip to remember. If you’re thinking about going, let me know if you have any questions!
Quotation from the fabulous Footprint guide to Skye and the Outer Hebrides.