Outer Hebrides – Cycling in the Isles of Wonder
An ideal way to discover these incredible islands of Outer Hebrides, is by cycling.
Cycling on the calm roads of the Outer Hebrides is an astounding way to observe the many wonders that these mind-blowing islands have to offer. The activity offers a chance to witness the exceptional distinctiveness of the area including the flora and fauna, spectacular panorama and the historical reserves that these amazing islands have.
The cycling routes are easily accessible for people of all age groups. There is minimal traffic on the roads which makes it easier to cycle and enjoy the scenic beauty at the same time. Cycling holidays can be leisurely or challenging according to how you would like them to be. You can choose from the easy rides of South Uist or Berneray to the more challenging and grueling ones of the Harris Hills.
The road trip that included cycling in the Outer Hebrides is one of the experiences that I’m going to cherish forever. The weather can be fickle here in England but the Gods smiled upon us during our trip to Barra; the sun was shining brightly and warmed us to our bones.
Barra is at the southern end of the archipelago. It is eight miles long and four miles wide. I took the only road towards the little town of Castlebury which boasts the medieval fortress, Kisimul Castle.
After a little break to visit the Castle I cycled towards the Island of Vatersay. The sea was so blue and inviting that I had to stop yet again to paddle in the sea. Good weather and the sea shore are two things that I greatly adore. And this combination of both was like a dream come true. Leaving the tranquility of the island behind me, I then took a forty minute ferry to Eriskay.
This moment here took me back in time to when I was a kid growing up in New York. We used to go out to Amagansett on Long Island during the summer and my dad and I would bike along Montauk Highway and stop along the entrance ways to go swimming. Another gorgeous pace.
Upon reaching Eriskay I started cycling again. Eriskay is animated with the spirit of the Outer Hebrides – and as such has provided much stimulation to the arts. The Atlantic coast that the island has is just one long stretch of sandy beach. I stopped for lunch at the Am Politician pub before mounting my bike again and cycling past the sign which warned me of ‘Otters Crossing.’
I rode to the Askernish where I saw the remains of several Bronze Age roundhouses dating from around 1200 BC . I cycled past Loch Bi to reach Benbecula. This is where the Catholic south of the Outer Hebrides merges into the Protestant north. After taking a fifty minute ferry to reach Leverburgh I stopped at Betty Bus for a cup of coffee and an Ecclefechan cake.
The smooth ride over the Golden road was a pleasure. I moved towards Stornoway via the magnificent lone standing stones at Callanish. Nothing could be said about the confirmed origins of these stones, but they are believed to be from around 2900 BC. These are thirteen stones arranged to form a Celtic cross.
Lastly I cycled across the austere, marshy landscape of the centre of Lewis. This has been divided into two by the Pentland Road. I cycled until I came to the big city of Stornoway that has a population of 12,000. I took my sore and numb limbs and aching shoulder blades into the Digby Chick Restaurant where after a couple of glasses of ten year old Malt, the pain ebbed away.