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Epic Routes – Cycling the Scottish Hebrides: The Skye’s the Limit (for my body)

The principle of not pre-booking accommodation at the height of the Scottish tourist season was once again proving to be folly as we disembarked at Uig and began the search for a B&B to rest and plan our route the next day. Learning our lesson from before, we approached the B&B’s in our civilian clothes rather than lycra and this seemed to help as we eventually found a decent place after only a few attempts.

It was almost like we were living in the pre-internet world such was our apparent convulsion at planning ahead of time.

A few pints at the local pub later and we were well and truly ready for some sleep and to let our bodies recover for the next day. My ass was certainly feeling the effects of sitting on a hard saddle after years of sitting on comfortable chairs like the majority of the western world.

Another full Scottish breakfast the next morning was the fuel we would need to sustain us on a loop around the northern part of Skye with a lunch stop planned in Portree. I am not going to lie, this day really hurt me and to make matters worse I don’t think we encountered a flat section of road on the entire route.

What a stunningly beautiful place to cycle on though despite the relentless pain of the effort. We arrived in Portree and locked the bikes so we could stroll and take in the charms of the picturesque port and eat our weight in pasta. As we sat there we started to formulate a plan to come back to Portree in the evening given that the place we were staying had the grand sum of one pub. In comparison, Portree was a metropolis and offered the distractions two young, single men required. The local taxi company was consulted and we left Portree with a plan to come back in the evening.

Somewhere on the cycle back to Uig, that plan lost its appeal and thoughts of beer were slowly but surely replaced by thoughts of a nice cup of tea and a bed. And so it was; who knows what we missed that fateful night in Portree. I think part of the decision not to go was the fact that our nightwear for going out had thus far not been washed and was what you might describe a shabby if you were being kind.

Another full Scottish breakfast followed (fuel to burn of course) and the bikes were back on the ferry but this time to Tarbert on the island of Harris.

Between us and Stornoway was 40 miles and a horrible climb that never ended out of Tarbert with barely any time to warm up the legs off the ferry. Once conquered, the descent was thrilling, none more so when my friend was almost taken out by a stray sheep crossing the road. It was only sheer luck that they missed.

We ploughed on to Stornoway and got there in the early evening assuming it would be a lot easier to find some accommodation here than in the middle of the Scottish wilderness. We were wrong and without a word of a lie we somehow found ourselves sleeping in what can only be described as a homeless persons hostel. The clientele were a clue but it was confirmed when the police came in the middle of the night to question one of our roommates about some petty crime matter.

With an early morning ferry to catch back to the main land and no sign of a reception at the hostel we left without paying a penny. The moment of guilt soon passed when we considered the nature of the accommodation and the fact that we had been duped by some false advertising. So onwards it was to Ullapool, quite happy to put water between us and Stornoway.

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