Outer Hebrides - 2007

South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist (40 miles) - Monday, 30 July

My daughter's birthday today, happy birthday Steph.

Same breakfast as yesterday, there was a definite need to buy some croissants and orange juice for a change. The weather had changed, more cloudy with showers sweeping in from the sea. I waited for a break in the rain to pack up but it seemed that the tent would stay wet again.

I pushed the bike back down the path at the back of the dunes to the little bridge and followed the dirt track northwards before heading for the main road past the youth hostel. Northwards again with several crests to climb but with the headwind robbing me of the rewarding descent. By Geirinis, on the right I passed Ruabhal Hill or 'the hill of the miracles'. I stopped to look at 'Our Lady of the Isles' an impressive tall statue. On the hill above were the white domes of the MOD defence missile range listening station.

The causeway to Benbecula arrived.

photograph - causeway to Benbecula

I stopped at the Co-op on just the other side. I bought water, orange juice and warm sausage rolls. I met a couple who were cycling to Berneray that night and had stayed at the youth hostel. Benbecula is a place I'd known of since childhood and I had achieved some small long held ambition by arriving there.

The direct road seemed preferable over the summit and down the other side towards the causeways over to Grimsay and then to North Uist. Patrick Fox had put me off visiting Baile a' Mhanaich, so my visit to Benbecula turned out to be very brief.

photograph - leaving Benbecula

I sought shelter during a rain shower to eat my third sausage roll. Later, on reaching Clachan na Luib I stopped at the little shop for lemonade, biscuits and an apple and ate them outside in very hot sunshine. The extremes of weather only added to the dramatic landscape.

Continuing up the west coast road there were more crests to climb against the incessant wind. I was heading for the beaches on the north west coast and eventually the road turned round to the north east and I arrived at Sollas Co-op. I bought the croissants and orange juice I'd promised myself for breakfast, plus some bananas.

I continued for a short distance to Greinetobht then turned sharp left, the road led directly down onto the beach at Traigh Ear. I cycled across a wide expanse of beautiful white sand with Boreray offshore and took the road off the beach as marked on the map, into the dunes behind Traigh Iar. Pushing the bike across the dunes, I found a sheltered spot and pitched the tent (NF816768).

The roar of the sea beckoned and on climbing to the top of the dunes a gorgeous breathtaking vista opened up, a perfect crescent of white sand with crashing waves. A totally unspoilt landscape. With the sun going down I watched two surfers for a while before retiring to the tent. I was very happy with my progress after a long day's cycling.

Next day