Hebrides, 16th-26th May 2008

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We spent 11 days in the Hebrides cycling, walking, climbing and lazing about. This was our first proper holiday with Freya, who travelled in our cycle trailer


We set off on Friday morning from Uig Youth Hostel (on Skye), getting the early ferry to Lochmaddy (North Uist)


Heading South across North Uist - the first nappy stop...


We cycled across North Uist, Grimsay, and Benbecula, and down South Uist to Howmore, one of the Gatliff Hostels - cheap, basic hostels scattered thinly across the Outer Hebrides. It is not permitted to stay in these with an under-5 year old, but we could camp beside it and use the facilities (hot water, a shower, and a kitchen with a cooker) for £5 each per night


The hostel roof contained several nests with hungry chicks, and birds were constantly shuttling back and forth with worms in their beaks. Something similar was going on inside, too


Whale bones outside the hostel


Several old kirks by the hostel


The beach just a short walk to the West, later that evening


Freya maintained her strict exercise regime


We headed South again on Saturday morning, watched by these nosey horses. The hill behind them is Beinn Mhor, the highest in Uist


Bog flowers




At the South end of South Uist


The causeway between South Uist and Eriskay


Looking back at Eriskay


Pleased with her progress so far, Freya waited for the ferry to Barra


We cycled down the East coast of Barra...


...past the grazing herds of pigs...


...and clumps of wild orchids


We stopped at a layby at the top of a hill above the main town, Castlebay. We had dinner there, then headed up Barra's highest hill, Sheabhal


The Calmac ferry from Oban came in as the sun lowered. We headed back down and camped near the hostel in town


The first rain of the trip arrived just before 0500 on Sunday morning, and dampened us as we took the tent down. Heading South again, this time for Vatersay, we met this young family going the other way


A memorial to the large number of war dead from Barra and Vatersay


Approaching Vatersay's East beach


The Post Office


Vatersay's beautiful South beach, with the Isle of Sandray across the water


Vatersay's West beach would be stunning if it wasn't for the crowds


Amongst the primroses


A feeding stop on the way North up the West coast of Barra


Scenic graveyard


Sculpture by the ferry back to Eriskay


Trapped in the café


We headed back to Howmore that afternoon and pitched the tent by the hostel again


Sunset by the old kirks


Moonrise over Beinn Mhor. We camped at Howmore for two nights, and walked up Beinn Mhor on the Monday. It was a gorgeous day on a gorgeous wee hill, with many great photo opportunities. Needless to say, we had both left our cameras in the tent when repacking...


Heading North again on Tuesday, we skirted around the West coast of Benbecula. Some of the irises were open


Looking back at Beinn Mhor


An old container


Freya sampling the menu in a café on North Uist...


...before settling on a banana. We continued around the West and North coast of North Uist


Scolpaig Tower


Seals on Berneray


The hills of South Harris from near the Gatliff Hostel on Berneray. We camped here for the night, and took the first ferry across to Harris on Wednesday morning


Approaching Sgarasta beach


Tidal flats


Luckily it was Wednesday and we don't play golf


Beaches by Sgarasta






After lunch by the beach we pedalled up the large hill to the North, and then on round to Drinisiadar campsite. It had been breezy all holiday up to this point, but now the wind stopped. The midges appeared for the first time and tried to eat us, with moderate success.

I had to keep nipping up the wee hill above the campsite to check my phone, as this was going on at the same time.

As a bonus, we were able to watch porpoises or dolphins (I don't know how to tell which) jumping by the islands offshore to the North as the tide turned late in the evening


Happy to be inside, away from the midges!


On Thursday morning we packed up again and headed North to Tarbert. We tried to book a B&B as a treat for our last night on Harris, but they were all full and we ended up rough camping instead, at the road junction South of Clisham (the highest hill in the Outer Hebrides). In the afternoon, after pitching the tent, we headed up Clisham. It was cloudy but dry


Looking West from Clisham to its subsidiary top, Mulla-Fo-Dheas, which we also traversed


Violets we passed on descent.

We rose early on Friday morning, packed up, and took the first ferry from Tarbert back to Uig (on Skye)


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