Borve to Berneray, via Castlebay (Barra)


Day 41: Fri 8 April   I thought I’d been doing quite well. But everything is relative…
Not long after we’d set up camp and eaten enough chicken korma for four, a young lady turned up (at this, possibly the most beatiful campsite…) on a very heavily laden bicycle and proceeded to unload and erect her tiny tent a foot away from the cliff, on the edge of the North Atlantic. Putting me firmly in the Softy Glamper set. How dare she? More seriously,  well done Susan! Now living & working in Inverness but originally hardy Cumbrian stock.
This morning, by the time I had read and partly understood the instructions for making my own OatSoSimple porridge substitute, our intrepid neighbour had already packed up camp and headed off. Either that, or a combination of coastal erosion and Atlantic rollers had taken her in the night. (Not really.  We saw her leaving. Good luck with the rest of your solo adventure and may the wind be on your back.)
At last,  another Lifeboat Station to visit today. Just a few miles along the bonnie Barra coast at Castlebay is the Island’s Severn Class All-Weather Lifeboat.
With such large areas to cover in these frequently stormy seas,  the Severn, being the largest and one of the fastest Lifeboats, is the norm for most of the remote RNLI Stations around the Highlands and Islands of North & West Scotland. Thanks to John (Cox’n), Eoin (LPO) for another cheery, warm RNLI welcome with coffee, photos and ceremonial chart signing. A privilege to meet you and find out a little more about a day in the life of a Lifeboat Station. Also good to make early contact with Dupre, relief mechanic from Kirkwall. Looking forward to seeing you again soon at your regular base on the Orkneys.
A few more miles to complete the circuit around Barra before catching up with Silver Camper Van Man for the return ferry to Eriskay, then back up through South Uist, Benbecula and North Uist.
The last few miles of cycling to complete the unbroken Northbound link from Lochmaddy took me over one more causeway and on to Berneray. By now the wind had increased and it was raining heavily.
Thanks to Carol in far away Cornwall, for finding us a b&b venue for tonight. Time to spread out, wash & dry off kit and allow someone else to cook and wash up after us.
This time we’re lodged in another fascinating place. The location was given as “the last house on the island, at the end of the the beach”. It is just that. The remote, dark old stone house did not, at first appear to be very welcoming in the increasingly bleak weather conditions. No response to Phil’s first tapping, then hammering on the door. No sign of life. So, back to our mobile refuge, where one of our two phones showed one bar of signal strength.  Enough to phone the owner’s number. Within seconds, a cheery chap appeared and greeted us. Once inside, our lovely hosts and their warm, cosy farmhouse, combined to create an atmosphere that contrasted perfectly with the first impression on approach.
The offer of a hot bath and an evening meal clinched the deal. It did not disappoint. A veritable feast. Thanks Shirley and Steve.

2 thoughts on “Borve to Berneray, via Castlebay (Barra)

  1. Neil McAllister April 9, 2016 / 11:28 am

    I do hope the veritable fast included just a little food. You wouldn’t want half fuel tanks for the morning ride.


  2. KEITH GRAHAM April 9, 2016 / 4:23 pm

    …not the going faster he would want!

    A big red circle has been on my calender for tomorrow – Sunday 10th – Paris – Roubaix, known as ‘The Hell of the North’ & greatest of the cobbled classics & sorry that Steven will miss it live.

    Instead Steven’s become his own ‘Orwell of the North’ with his wonderful descriptions of Scottish adventures-

    Doubleplus scenery, plus speeedful journeys and the antefilling hunger knock because of all that previous days fasting…..!

    In case you’re feeling homesick for the race & the West Country Steven you can combine the two by pedalling along tomorrow to the great cover version by the Wurzels of the Kaiser Chief classic:

    ‘Roubaix Roubaix Roubaix
    ooh arr ohh arr ohh arr…
    This headwind’s getting to me….
    ooh arr ohh arr ohh arr….

    …and you can all sing along to it by watching their You Tube video (better than the original!)

    another gurt lush cobbled classic from Keith x


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