Hebridean Way – Barra (Iain)

Barra is so beautiful it has the nickname Barradise. Unfortunately, today the weather was much like a Remainer’s view of the UK’s economic prospects after Brexit – bleak. Rain was battering the window and the wind was gusting to 40mph.

This was not good news for the cyclists. My wife’s sister does not like to ride a bike if the wind is gusting stronger than 30mph. When I saw her, she asked how windy it was. I did what any caring support crewmember would do. I lied. I told her it was windy but only 10 mph. I then added – it looks nice outside. It did not. It looked like the scene in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house was blown away.

Wild Weather

The start point of the Hebridean Way is in Vattersay. Which is six miles from Castlebay along a one way road. Traffic can go both ways but I call it one-way because the only way back is the one-way I came.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time we gathered outside the B & B to start the adventure. I took some photos to mark the occasion. My wife and her sister started cycling. The rain immediately restarted. The first 10 minutes of riding was so wet Noah would have taken it as a sign to gather animals on to his boat two by two. I could have ridden with them but instead I choose the warmth and comfort of my car.

It took 45 minutes to bike to the start. Only 15 minutes by warm dry car. I thought it would be busy at the start considering all the cyclists we had seen on the boat but there was no one there, except for one German man. He was standing at the start looking a little lost. I said hello but he ran away.

I took some more photos to mark the occasion. As you can see from the picture. I wore a wetsuit for the occasion. Which meant I was the only one suitably attired for the Hebridean rain. 

They headed off whilst I drove to the ferry terminal that would take us to the next island – Eriskay.

I had an hour to kill once I got there so I was able to ride my bike until they turned up.

The ferry to Eriskay takes 40 minutes. There was a nice café in the ferry terminal. I had a fruit scone. A dog jumped up and tried to scoff it. I shouted “NO!” to try to deter the beast but it didn’t stop. The dog’s owner turned to me and said “The dog won’t hear you. He’s deaf”

“How do you know he’s deaf?” I replied.

“I sneak up behind him and shout but the dog doesn’t notice.”. Which seems a harsh test. Imagine sneaking up behind people and shouting loudly. Anyone not deaf will die of fright!

On the ferry journey we spotted some dolphins. Which made me think that if Africa has the big five then the Hebrides should too. My suggestion is

  1. Dolphins
  2. Golden Eagle
  3. Eriskay Ponies
  4. Otters
  5. Seals

You would think there is less chance of death from meeting them than meeting the African big five but you would be wrong.

My wife crashed her bike when she spotted what she thought was a Golden Eagle. It wasn’t. She spent the rest of that day muttering about her sore leg and the face that “it was only a buzzard!”

Golden eagles are hard to spot. I know this because I once visited a RSPB hut. (Yes – I realise that last sentence is not very rock and roll but I am cool. Honest!)

In the hut bird-spotter’s record, in a book, what they have seen. One person had written “Golden Eagle” but next to it, someone else had written, “No you fucking didn’t”

Which proves Golden Eagles are hard to spot.

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