I had a bit of a scare last night – I’d been looking into the routes in more detail and found that the ferry times from North Uist to Skye seemed to have changed. The day’s only ferry wasn’t at 1800, but 1600, leaving us a bit short of time because on that day we have to start with Vatersay at the southern end of the Outer Hebrides and pedal our way to Lochmaddy in the very north – all of 74 miles. Whether I’d read it wrong the first time a few months ago, or whether it had been changed since then, I’m not sure.
At first I thought it might not be possible to get around the problem, but after another look at the early part of the route I realised it should still be possible. Now some of you may be thinking “What’s the problem with 74 miles before 4 pm?”, but there are two problems. Firstly, 74 miles with a fully-loaded touring bike is harder work than an luggage-free racer, and I have to make allowances in case there are strong headwinds and pouring rain. Secondly, there is a ferry earlier in the day from Barra, which arrives on Eriskay at 1005 – so unlike mainland cycling, there is no way we can give ourselves more time by having an early start.
Never mind – we WILL do it!
Still, it meant that I’ve spent all day double-checking every single ferry timetable to make sure there are no more banana skins, and also looking at each day’s route in more detail to make sure they’re not impossibly long.
As a result I’ve reminded myself how big Lewis and Skye are! Three days on Lewis still don’t give us enough time to visit all the places I would like, given that we must take in the islands of Great Berneray and Scalpay (both are islands but are now accessible by modern bridges).
Portree, Isle of Skye
Just as last year, I’m beginning to think maybe I should have planned a more relaxed schedule, to give myself chance to see more. But the tour can’t be longer than four weeks as I have to be back home by the last weekend in May, for reasons which I will disclose in a future blog – I’ll leave that as a bit of a mystery for now!
Right. My next job is to make sure the bike, everything that goes on it, and all clothes and other equipment, are in tip top order. And contact all the people who are giving us accommodation to remind them of the dates and make sure there are no last-minute hitches. And make sure things are straight before I go. As usual, Val’s going to be busy looking after everything whilst I’m away!
Oh, by the way - if you are an avid reader of the Clitheroe Advertiser & Times you'll find an article about the tour on page 3. I wish they'd find another photograph!