Portree to North Uist, Hebrides

Day 38: Weds 6 April.   No need to rush but no time to waste. Quick but fond farewells to Neil & Kate. Are those tears or raindrops? The ferry to Lochmaddy on North Uist doesn’t depart until 9.40 but we’re still in Portree and I have to cycle the 17 miles to Uig, North Skye. It’s raining and my fuel tank has been completely refilled with the usual heavy breakfast.  This time with fried Haggis instead of Stornoway black pudding. This, added to the gentle but long climb out of Portree, into wind and rain, makes the first few miles hard work. A glance at Garmin brings on mild panic. At this pace, Phil & the van may have to board without me. Even when on the ‘flat’, it’s hard to reach the usual 15mph. A few very heavy goods vehicles overtake, clearly on a mission to catch the same ferry. Instead of muttering the usual expletives I begin to realise the advantage of these great movers of air. Although a bit turbulent,  my pace quickens. The porridge is also kicking in. Instead of dead weight, it’s  becoming fuel. By the time the brow of the final climb is reached and Uig ferry terminal can be seen way below on the other side of the bay, Fondo & rider are accelerating through the 20s, then 30s. No need to brake, clear view around the bends. Pulled up alongside a slightly anxious brother with a few minutes to spare. Still unsure if we were going to squeeze on to this very heavily laden ferry, the calming, cheerful vehicle loader, CalMac Kenny eventually gave us the thumbs up. We’re on!  Just as well. Nothing against the good people of Uig but it would have been just a tad disappointing if we had been obliged to wait almost 10 hours for the late evening crossing.
A brisk headwind to greet me for the first cycle ride in these Western Isles.
A different landscape. Almost as much water as land. Having driven ahead to our planned rendezvous, Phil accompanied me for a while on the spare bike. He loved cycling a few miles north to meet me. Not so thrilled with the southbound return leg into wind. But he did it.
So here we are,  settled in to our cosy camper. The multi talented driver/chef is humming contentedly, chopping onions with one hand as he opens the wine and a jar of bockwurst with the other.
This is a very exposed part of the Outer Hebrides,  on the west coast of North Uist. A few yards away, over a low sand dune is a beautiful white sand beach. Then nothing but the North Atlantic for many hundreds of miles. To describe today’s weather, I’ll transcribe a bit of Phil’s phone call, eavesdropped earlier: ” ..The weather? Oh, it’s glorious.  Really sunny.  Hang on,  no. It’s raining now.  Blowing a gale. Just a minute,  no,  it’s fine again. ..”
No Lifeboat visited today. We are now well into the territory where, instead of counting how many Lifeboat Stations per day, it’s how many days between Lifeboat Stations.


4 thoughts on “Portree to North Uist, Hebrides

  1. Neil McAllister April 7, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    I’m impressed with the speedy run to Uig, even more impressed that Phil got on his bike but most impressed that you still had energy to complete the day’s blog in such detail. Well done both. I’m now back at home and missing the highlands and islands. Good luck and fair winds for the next few days.


    • stevenmca April 8, 2016 / 8:41 pm

      Missing you too. Very different land scape now. Beautiful but very bleak when it’s blowing a gale and raining. Like right now.


  2. Wendy Bush April 8, 2016 / 6:01 pm

    Reall y enjoying your daily reports I am so proud of you xxxx


    • stevenmca April 8, 2016 / 8:39 pm

      Very kind words cuz. I’ll try to keep up to date, whenever there’s enough energy and Internet at the end of the day! Xxx


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