Skooter reporting 08/10/12
Another exceptional bike touring destination is Scotland’s handsome Outer Hebrides and, to make it more interesting, any journey here must be accomplished by both bicycle and ferry. As Nigel said, you could cover the area in a week, but take two. The string of main islands of the Outer Hebrides -- Barra, Eriksay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Harris and Lewis – is a thinly populated territory of wild beaches licked up by seas as blue as in the Caribbean. On land, hardly travelled roads link quiet settlements of thatched and whitewashed houses, moorland valleys and rocky mountains. Behind the beaches are meadowlands - Machairs are strewn with wildflowers and make for scented picnics and camping.
A cycle tour here is best carried out south to north to go well with the southwestern current winds, and early summer guarantees the most unwavering weather in the Outer Hebrides. On a Hebridean biking adventure, you will see ancient treasures like 16th-century Kisimul Castle in Castlebay, Barra, the Neolithic Callanish Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis, and the three billion year old Lewisian Gneiss – the oldest rock in the world -- on the Isle of Harris. I learned from Nigel that the Hebrides also have a living ancient language, it’s Gaelic and is more widely spoken here than anywhere else in Scotland. Ferries link up the Scottish west coast port of Oban with Barra, and the islands’ northern capital Stornoway with Ullapool on the mainland, so access is no problem. A noteworthy tradition of island hospitality means there is always an inviting inn or bed and breakfast to stay at, so there is no need to put up a tent.
To be continued…