Author Topic: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018  (Read 153 times)

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Offline RevvingRev

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Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« on: July 11, 2019, 12:08:09 PM »
A very delayed trip report from last year.

I had been keen to go to the Outer Hebrides for a few years, but hadnít been able to find the time to make getting out there worthwhile.  So with a few nights set aside to get away from it all I took off. 

The first part of the trip was a bizarre diversion from Aberdeen to Edinburgh for a work meeting.  Definitely not the most direct route to the Hebrides! Leaving Edinburgh early afternoon, I decided to take the A9 north from Perth.  I can hear the intake of breath from most of you already, but you know what it has been years since Iíve been on that road and while itís not exactly the most exciting riding road, it definitely is an incredibly beautiful route.  Added bonus is it gives access to the A889 and the A86.  The A86 might be my favourite biking road in Scotland - quick, quiet, twisty and long enough to get into a groove - perfect!

I made good time then along the Kyle of Lochalsh and over the bridge to Skye and had an evening in the Broadford Youth Hostel with a wee pint in the Broadford hotel. A nearly 400 mile day in glorious sunshine was a nice start to my wee adventure.

Day 2 was an early start to get the ferry from Uig over to Tarbert on Harris.  The advantage of an early start is empty roads on Skye! And all these lovely camper vans parked up at the side of the road got a bike roaring past at 6am! Unfortunately due to the hour of the day the Isle of Skye Brewery was closed - next time.

A lovely wee ferry ride over (about 2 hours) saw me roll off onto Harris. I had decided to give the campsite at Horgaborst a try and decided to ride round the south of the Island to get there.  The eastern side of Harris is best described as a kind of barren moonscape.  Beautiful in its own way but definitely rugged.   The roads are narrow, with loads of blind summits and corners. Not for those who are committed to speed, but I found it to be a challenging and rewarding ride. I stopped off at the Harris Tweed Museum on the Golden Road for an insight into the Islands main industry.  A very enjoyable stop.

The local animals were interested in this strange creature going by, though when the rain came on it seemed as though they though I was a bit daft for being out in it!!

A quick stop at the church in Rodel at the bottom of the Island was an interesting stopping off point.

Not long after this though it seems as though youíve travelled through some space-time continuum and landed on a complete different island.  Gone is the barren wasteland and now you are faced with the Caribbean-like beaches for which Harris is famed.  The roads seemed easier to ride, the challenge now being to keep your eye on the road as round every corner there was another spectacular beach laid out in front of you with a similarly unpronounceable name!!

Oh and did I mention there was hardly anyone there? Bliss!!

Not too far up the west coast of the Island, but far enough to pass a number of amazing beaches I arrived at Horgabost Camp Site.  The site was busy but there was plenty of space to park the bike and a quick hike up into the campsite got me a sweet spot right by the beach.

So while it had been my intention to try a couple of campsites in my 2 night stay this spot meant that this was as far as I was going!! The facilities are to say the least basic.  There is a toilet block and shower block which are converted shipping containers and a shop that is allegedly open - but I never witnessed it.   But if you are happy with a semi-wild site it is perfect and cheap.

Knowing I had somewhere to stay I popped into Tarbert which is only 20 minutes going the short route. I had a wee wander round (it didnít take long) and picked up a few supplies at the only shop I could find - the selection was limited.  I did enjoy a trip round the Isle of Harris distillery, home of the famous Harris Gin. After an early start I headed back to the campsite for an early night.

After a surprisingly pleasant nights sleep I was up and out and off to explore the north of the Island, the Isle of Lewis.  To my shame until I had looked at coming over here for this trip I had not realised that Harris and Lewis were part of the same land mass!!

It is astonishing how different Harris and Lewis are!  The beauty and mountainous terrain of Harris gives way to a much more bleak flat landscape in Harris.  The upside of this is some very open quick roads.  I had a fun day running around Lewis.  A visit to the standing stones at Callanish was a worthwhile trip and a stop in Stornoway for petrol and coffee. Trip back down to Harris was lovely. 

I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner and took a stroll up the hill to The Machair Kitchen.  Food and wine were excellent and prices were ok. Burger was £13 but there were some very appetising looking seafood dishes on the menu if that's your thing.

Packed up the next morning and headed back up through Lewis to Stornaway to get the boat back to Ulapool.  Stopped off for a few photos and to appreciate the rugged beauty and slower pace of the island.  It had been a healthy couple of days of being somewhere very different with a very different pace of life.

I met a nice bunch of bikers on the ferry and we shared a couple of hours helping a German couple plan the rest of their Scottish trip. 

I thought the adventure was over and I would just have a wee quick blast back to Aberdeen.  However some poor guy had been in an accident and so the A835 was closed. 

Thankfully the bikes were among the first getting off the ferry and so we could get cracking but it was a fair old detour but turned into a fun convoy of books through Elphin, Bonar Bridge and Tain before reaching Inverness and enduring the slog along the A96 to get home.  All in all a brilliant few days, decent weather and over 1000 miles on the bike.  Oh and a whole new part of Scotland visited - and one Iíll definitely be back to.

Offline sofnolime

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Re: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2019, 12:20:31 PM »
Nice write up and pictures.  I found Horgabost Camp Site in the middle of my trip, I'll be staying there when I go back!
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Offline Three Dawg

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Re: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2019, 12:22:00 PM »
Looks like a cracking run!
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Offline lowflyer

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Re: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2019, 16:49:58 PM »
My son and his family camped at Horgabost for a few nights ( they only intended on staying the one night  8). He was blown away by it, literally. They were victims of severe gales the second night.
He pitched up at the top of the hill to get a good view and the gale hit them full on. :(
But, that being aside, they stayed a few nights more and he has said to me on more that one occasion that I should drag my weary old ass up there sometime.
This year could be the year  ;)

Thanks for taking the time to post.
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Offline flyfifer

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Re: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2019, 16:51:37 PM »
 8) these wee stories all add to the picture. Was there any great significance to the church at Rodel --- or is it just one of the multitude built "by the state" .
Thanks for posting.

Offline LargeWayRound

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Re: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2019, 21:00:52 PM »
Excellent trip report and pictures .

Thanks for posting  :)
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Offline RevvingRev

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Re: Harris and Lewis Trip - Summer 2018
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2019, 23:21:08 PM »
IIRC it is a 15th century church on the site of a much earlier Christian settlement. I believe it was built by Clan McLeod as a place to bury their chiefs but I might be wrong about that.  It was also orginally only accessible by sea, which when you ride the road down doesn't feel that different today!!

8) these wee stories all add to the picture. Was there any great significance to the church at Rodel --- or is it just one of the multitude built "by the state" .
Thanks for posting.