Well, I’m back on a bike after a small hiatus and boy do I feel good \o/
We just spent a week on the Isle of Lewis where I got to ride in “anger” for the first time in three and a bit years.
Thursday, we packed the van and headed north into the unknown, well Scotland. Drove and had a picnic on the shores of Loch Lomond, before we took the long way around towards Oban.
We found a wonderful wild camp in a forest, though after parking up and getting the van sleep-ready we were attacked by Scotland’s finest tourist attraction, the biting bastards erm midges. After 30 minutes of fighting with them we were wrapped up in as much as we could, clothing wrapped around our heads to avoid bites, as we tried to sleep. But at bladder o’clock we decided that this was just silly so we retreated to the hills.
Well, drove as fast as the law would allow at 4.45am with every window that could be opened in the van, in the hope that the wind would would take our enemy away. That’s the downside to van-camping compared to a tent – it’s much harder to keep the little buggers at bay! We parked up and regrouped in Lochgilphead before we headed into Oban.
Breakfast was enjoyed looking over Oban before the town woke up. We followed the coast towards Skye via Fort William. On Skye Peli took me to Glen Brittle where we had a paddle before we talked ourselves into staying at the campsite, just because we were settled in and the site was so lovely. Peli remembers it from family holidays when her dad did the Cuillin Ridge.
Saturday, early start got us on the ferry and onto Harris by 11am. Via some shopping we arrived at the wonderful Corncrake Holiday Cottage. Stunning, location over looking Uig Bay and the mountains behind.
A few hours later Peli’s mum, dad, sister and sister’s hubby arrived for a jolly afternoon and evening.
Sunday, we tried to take Tilley out for a wee ride in the new trailer! She was happy to jump in and lay down, but this is bunny country. We gave up on this adventure when we had used half a tube of primula cheese and Tilley had three of her legs outside the trailer, in an attempt to go chasing, even with a seatbelt, oh dear. We will try again on the less-interesting canal near our house.
Tilley’s second favourite person (Helen) puppy-sat – thank you – and we headed into the hills on bikes after Peli’s mum and dad. We didn’t get far before we spotted them heading back from Mangurstadh. We rode out there and back too and I even managed a one chevron hill, without loss of lungs or a foot down.
Oh yeah, I did have a spill. Trying to ride back up the steep gravel path to the cottage, which I just about managed on the first ride up. I hit some rather lose gravel and the Racers didn’t have it in them, so I wheel spun and lost control and rolled gently over before I manged to un-clip. This gave Tigger his first scratch – on handle bars and frame.
Monday, we – the whole family – went out to some stones that have been loitering around for about 4-3000 years in Callanish. A rather remarkable place, there was even some stone hugging, and we enjoyed a bite to eat before heading back home and got ready for a bike ride.
We – Peli’s sister and her hubby Martin and us – while Tilley’s favourite person (Mum) puppy-sat, thank you – decided to head out to the end of the world/road which is Mealista. House of the old black woman – which an old military station and medieval settlement. Just before this empty, somewhat bleak but very beautiful and striking place there is a wee little beach. It would be very rude to pass the opportunity for a dip, it was rather warm – some would say brrrr, but 15c is warm for this Dane – and very clear. About eight miles out and back of wonderful views over the Atlantic ocean.
This was probably the longest and hardest ride so far for me and it felt good, I managed the steep hills fine. A wee bit tired in the legs in the evening and nothing to report the next day regarding my arms, fitness and pain. The main thing I could say is that I’m still not sure of the Marathon Racers, good fast enough roll for me and I’m sure that the anti-visitation abilities are up to it. Though I’m not sure about the grip, where I have no trust issues with Marathon Pluses – throw them at anything – I felt that the Racers were lacking a bit.
This was a fantastic ride, with great company and weather, thanks all who took part, it meant a lot to me to be back in “anger” on the bike.
Tuesday, we stayed home and nattered and dog walked with mum. While the others went for a walk up and down a local hill. Though it was more a hobble down the hill as Peli’s dad had to put one foot into a bog, just to test how deep they are, I’m sure :)
Wednesday, was planned to be a bike ride with our friend who is local to these isles. To cut a long story short we just went for a cuppa, which turned into a few and some good natter and laughter. Afterwards we headed north to the Dun Carloway Broch and then the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village.
I was sent out for a last rescue as sister, hobby and mum had a flat in their rental car. As I rushed out I passed a VW split screen in the ditch. Went to fetch sisters hobby and their first rescuers, came back and helped the VW back on its feet with other passers-by’s. Then back to find mum and sister to bring them back to the cottage. Bizarre question from the rental car company – please tell us what the wheel size is of the car that you rented from us…
Thursday, we headed out with Peli’s mum towards Aird Uig, a small village and old MoD (and top secret shsssss) base and quarters. Mum was on her new electric assist bike and zoooomed along with us hunting her down and failing. Still we had a great ride together, where we enjoyed the views and weather. Might even have found a Croft what we would need to put an offer on, I’m sure you would too, views over Traigh Uige (beach) and the mountains behind.
Friday, we got up at 6am and endured the worst weather that Lewis had thrown at us all week. I mean, clouds! That is not on! Peli and me headed out for a 15 mile loop around Bheirgh. Down the Gleann Bhaltois, into the headwind, sadly the wind died down on our return so not much help going back up. We went clockwise around and got spoiled with view of beaches, moors and cliffs. Stopped at Roif (Reef) where there was yet another reminder of the hard and nasty past these islands have had.
In the afternoon I borrowed Peli’s mum’s electric assist bike and went for a jolly. Only 2.8 miles round trip, as it would be rude not to visit the mighty fine Abhainn Dearg Distillery and take a wee drop home.
Saturday, we started our way back with a small detour to Great Bernera and later Harris. At the very top of Bernera at Bostadh there is a Iron age village that got found again, after a massive storm. We refuelled in Storoway both for us and the van before heading down south. A few cups of tea later we arrived at Northton on Isle of Harris and some tactical waiting later – as in waiting for another camper to leave – we had a perfect spot to camp for the night.
Sunday, we took it easy and drove the wonderful “Golden Road” back to Tarbert. We were very close to jumping on our bikes and leave Tilley in the van for a few hours. We will be back one day to ride this for sure. We relaxed before the easy ferry back to Skye and then the long drive back. Managed to get to south Glasgow before it was time to rest, the joy of a camper and Scotland freedom to roam law.
Monday, and late Sunday evening, as we got closer to England the weather changed into proper British summer weather. Instead of the near topical weather we enjoyed on Lewis. So the visit to the Hadrian Wall was a rather damp one, but still a great visit. We even helped to get a dog back to his owner, as it had decided to go walkies with some Americans who were walking the length of the wall.
Now where to cycle next, well after we have gotten Tilley used to the trailer.