Our first day of real biking was also a day of rough weather. We had to pack up our wettent in the rain, which was not ideal, but we had to catch a ferry on the top of Barra to Eriskay.
This is the typical morning: packing up the panniers, and then loading up the bikes.
The bike ride was a bit rushed and our first exposure to some nice, steep hills. But we had a bit of nice scenery:
But with a bit of rain and a lot of dedication, we hightailed it fast enough and made it to the ferry, which we shared with a group of hungover teens from the Barra music fest…let’s just say we had nicer ferry rides on the trip than this one…
Once getting across the short way to Eriskay, we climbed the hill (always there is a big hill after the ferry – it’s the rule!) and made it to a local pub for lunch. The kind of place that serves mac and cheese with a side of fries. Let’s just say that I don’t know if it would be a good idea to travel to Scotland if you weren’t going to bike all day. It’s a bit of a carb fest. Anyway, a delicious break to sit out the rain. Then, on to the causeway to South Uist. Otter crossing!!
South Uist was pretty beautiful, despite the wind and a bit of drizzle. Very rocky and wild, with glimpses of the amazing beaches and ocean as you turned the corners. South Uist was probably the most uninhabited of the places we went – and we loved it for that!
A cute little place along the road where they had sheep and also grew flowers and vegetables. In the little hut was an honor system store that sold wool goods and some of the products from their garden. I wonder how many visitors they get there…
Roadside break of coffee and these really amazing chocolates – they are great energy boosters for windy bike rides:
We also stopped at the North Uist museum where we had some nice chats with the docent – a retired local. He was very eager to share with us information about the history of the island. It is, and has been, a very remote place to live, and it’s clear from their history museum that it’s definitely not an easy life…I could only imagine how bad the winters get.
After the history museum we went about 10 miles to Howmore, where we camped near the first of a few of Gatliff Trust Hostels, which are completely magical places. Stay there!
Here’s the outside of the Hostel, an old crofting house with a thatched roof.
And look at this cutie who popped out to say hello:
With these hostels, you can also just pay a few pounds to use the showers and camp outside. It’s really convenient and cheap. Pretty much a dream for any student travelers. Plus, because of the wild camping rules, you really can camp wherever you like. Check out our spot:
Good place? A field of wildflowers?
Oh yeah, what a view!
The sun came out as we walked from our tent spot to the hostel for what were AMAZING showers:
Cooking dinner and sharing wine and stories with the other guests. Some German students who were backpacking around and hitchhiking their way throughout Scotland. If there’s anyplace I would feel safe hitchhiking, it really is here – the people are just so friendly and it is such a pain to actually get to the Outer Hebrides that if you make it there, you’re probably there for the right reasons- appreciating the specialness of the place. There were also a couple of older British Gentlemen who had just been out to St. Kilda – which is one of those places I’ve just got to go sometime.
Oh yes – a coal fire to warm up after the wet and windy day? Almost as effective as the red wine.