I'm a double cancer survivor, cyclist and walker who does various challenges for different charities, mainly cancer-related.

In 2016 I climbed every single 'Birkett' in the Lake District - all 542 fells over 1,000' within the National Park, including all 214 Wainwrights. I've also done a three-week cycle tour of Tasmania in February 2015 and amongst other things, I've cycled from Land's End to John o'Groats (2003), Rotterdam to Lemvig (Denmark) (2005), walked the Pennine Way (2008) completed (my first) ascent of all 214 'Wainwrights' in the Lake District in only 55 days (2009), cycled 4,500 miles around the coast of Great Britain (2011), cycled all 42 of the accessible Western Isles of Scotland in under a month (2012), twice abseiled 230 ft from the top of The Big One in Blackpool, cycled the WWI Western Front from London to Compiegne via Ypres and Arras (2014), cycled 750 miles in the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton (2014), done a bit of sky-diving and cycled Australia's Great Ocean Road - just before lockdown in 2020.

Altogether I've raised over £120,000 for my charities including The Christie, Cancer Research UK, the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, and ABF (The Soldiers' Charity) and I was mightily chuffed to receive the British Empire Medal in the 2014 New Year's Honours List.

I'm a Rotarian and give illustrated talks about my adventures in exchange for a donation to charity, so if you're looking for a speaker leave me a message. I am also Event Organiser for the Ribble Valley Ride Cycle Sportive, to be held this year on Sunday 5 September 2021 - more details at www.ribblevalleyride.org

You can also follow me on Twitter - @CancerBikeMan and on Facebook - just search for Bill Honeywell

Cancer Research UK is the world's leading charity dedicated to beating cancer through research, whilst The Rosemere does fantastic work for patients in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Cycling the Hebrides 2012 – Day 1

Wemyss Bay Station

You’ve probably already read some of me blogs, but whether you have or not, I should say by way of a brief introduction that this is an account of 26 or so days cycling to all the reasonably accessible islands off the west coast of Scotland.  The aim was to set foot on 43, and as you’ll find out later, we almost did it. One island eluded us, and I’ll tell you why later.

Us by the way means me, Bill Honeywell (more information at the top of this blog), and Richard Dugdale, also from Clitheroe. Richard has his own blog which you can get to by following the link on this page.  We were cycling to raise money and awareness for Cancer Research UK and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation, so if at any time you feel the urge to make a donation – and I hope you do – then again, just follow the links given on this page.

I tried to update the blog as the ride progressed but I didn’t manage to give you much information as it all had to be done on an iPhone, and the photos were also only those taken on the phone. Now I’m home I can post some better pictures, taken on a Panasonic ‘bridge’ camera which was new for the ride and worked very well.

So, without further ado…  the story so far.

On Saturday 28 April we cycled from home to Preston station, caught the train up to Glasgow and booked in at the Travelodge on Paisley Road.  This is perhaps not the best location in the city – there was a security guard on the car park and before we’d been there an hour people were tweeting me to ‘be careful out there’!

The Bute Ferry

First thing Sunday morning we returned to Glasgow Central Station and caught a train to Wemyss (pronounced ‘Wimz’) Bay to get the Calmac ferry across to island no 1, The Isle of Bute, lying in the Firth of Clyde west of Glasgow.  The weather was glorious and the station at Wemyss Bay is a fine example of Victorian architecture.  It was a bit breezy on the crossing and we opted to stay inside the ferry and just look out of the windows!  There was another group of cyclists who were on a day trip to the island.

A Royal Navy destroyer anchored off the island

We decided to do a roughly clockwise tour of Bute so turned left off the ferry in Rothesay and… stopped at the first café on the edge of the town for the obligatory coffee and cake.  Then off along green lanes with birds singing and the sun shining, until we reached the ancient ruin of St Blane’s Church near the southern tip of the island. We left the bikes, walked to what is left of the church, and found a group of archaeologists doing a geophysical survey. No sign of Tony Robinson or the Time Team, however.  It’s a really pleasant, tranquil site where you feel you could sit down and put your feet up for a few hours.

St Blane's Church

But of course we headed back for the bikes and set off again on our tour, past the lovely Scalpsie Bay on the west coast and then past another roof-less church to Ettrick Bay and another café stop.  From here, with the sun still shining, we headed back to the east coast and then north along a long cul-de-sac by the Kyles of Bute to Rhubodach where another ferry makes the short crossing to Colintrave on the Cowal peninsula.  We saw Eider ducks in the sea here, and there were also Gannets, Common Sandpipers, Oystercatchers and Swallows.

Ettrick Bay

View from the Kyles of Bute

A pair of Eider Ducks

Then back to Rothesay where, at 5.50, we called at one of Zavaronis’ cafés, but were told he was about to shut, so we got a coffee ‘to go’ and then did a tour of the town.  On our way back past the café at 6.30 he was still open… hmph! 

Rothesay Castle

Our night’s lodgingw were to be with Frank Ledwith via warmshowers.org, a site which enables touring cyclists to provide accommodation on a reciprocal basis.  Frank had been in Lancaster all day and didn’t return till just after 7pm, but gave us a warm welcome and a warm meal too!

So ended our first day – the first of many – with one island and just under 40 miles in the bag.  Tomorrow we would add another two – Great Cumbrae and Arran – and a fellow tweep, Tommy Gribbon, had promised to join us on part of the cycle.

Friday, 25 May 2012

More Mull Meanderings

This is the magnificent Ben More group seen from the Ulva Ferry - Gruline road which we were now on. Ben More is the only island Munro (mountain over 3,000 ft) Apart from those on Skye, and I've had the pleasure of climbing it three times. You start at sea level so it's a proper climb.

Just after Gruline we passed the mausoleum of Lachlan MacQuarrie, 'father of Australia'. He was born on Ulva and the mausoleum is the property of the state of New South Wales.

Wolf Island

And so to Ulva. Duncan the ferry man took us across for free; we had a coffee at the Boathouse Café (where the home baking is also excellent) then, conscious of the time (after 2.00), and the fact that we weren't even half way, we jumped back on the wee ferry and headed back to 'mainland' Mull.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Not the Tour of Mull Rally

Tuesday was to be a long day, basically doing four of the best rally stages, visiting the island of Ulva and then cycling along the Ross of Mull to stay the night with Tony & Jean Wagstaff. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, try Googling 'Mull Rally' or have a look on YouTube. I was a competitor for many years and the picture is a memorial to the founder of the event, the delightful Brian Molyneux, sadly missed.

We set a time of 44m 37s on Mishnish Lochs, between Tobermory and Dervaig, which shouldn't worry any of the drivers. Then on to 'The Long One' around Calgary Bay, from where, despite our many changes of direction, the wind seemed to be in our faces all day!

Every now and again we would stop so that I could show Richard another place where I had once crashed, which slowed progress considerably! We met three cycling ladies from Northern Ireland, stopped at the spectacular Eas Fors waterfall, and eventually reached the Ulva Ferry - summoned by sliding a board on the wall to reveal the red background. Very high-tec!

What's the Story?

On Monday night we met a group of ecologists and whale-watchers whose boat, by a strange coincidence, was being skippered by Rob, whose house we stayed in in Portree.

Tobermory was as welcoming as ever, with its painted buildings (and the world's best fish and chip van). We stayed in a great B&B called Fuaran on Raeric Road.

Mission accomplished!

Today we set foot (and bike) on our last island - Oronsay, which lies to the south of Colonsay, reached only at low tide by pedalling (or walking or driving) through wet sand for about a mile. It is VERY hard work on a bike, and you thought we were doing this for fun!

Before I tell you more, I realise I've been unable to blog for the last couple of days so I'll try to bring you up to date, starting with this photo taken just outside Salen, on the Isle of Mull, on Monday.

The weather has been so kind for a few days now. The suncream is getting a hammering and now even the wind has dropped - though it was breezy on Monday and Tuesday. Cycling heaven!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Apologies to all readers

I'm sorry for the lack of blogs over the last two days but I've either been short of signal/wifi or out of time!

Tomorrow and Friday will be our last two islands - Colonsay and Oronsay - and signals may well be difficult again. So please bear with me - I WILL bring you up to date as soon as I can.

PS Thanks to the anonymous donor for the large donation to Cancer Research UK on Just Giving today, and to the many people en route who have given a total of £330 as we have passed by!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Brief Re-Encounter!

We decided to go to the MacDonald Arms for something to eat as I wanted to see the landlady, Susan, to let her know my parents are OK. No seats in the main bar, went into the back room and who should be there, with a team of ecologists/whale-watchers, but Rob, whose house we stayed in on Skye (and whose arrival late that evening might have turned into a diplomatic incident!)

Furthermore Theresa, one of the ecologists, comes from Clitheroe. So a good evening was had by all.

It was great to see Susan too, after she'd finished feeding the 5,000, and Neil. Then we met an interesting guy from Miami and Washington DC who seems to spend his life backpacking around the world and working as a consultant at the same time. I didn't catch his name though - so please fella - if you read this, send me an email with your details.

Enough for today. Around the rugged west coast tomorrow - if the weather keeps up it should be superb.



As the temperature rose (I can't believe in writing this but it's true!) we pedalled through Salen and on to the single-track A-road which leads to Tobermory. This must be the busiest such road in Britain - how it can remain single-track with so much traffic defeats me.

Just outside Salen are these two old boats (photo) which are always photogenic.

The views along the Sound of Mull are fantastic, better still when the sea is so blue. Soon we arrived in Tobermory, looking as splendid as ever with its brightly coloured houses along the sea front. I called at Alison's shop on the corner near the Mishnish, hoping for a hug and a kiss, only to be met by husband Pete. Nice to see you again Pete (but a kiss from Alison would've been better!)

Then up the steep hill to our excellent B&B for tonight, Fuaran House on Raeric Road, run by Brian & Lynne McLeod.

Mull Murmurings (with apologies to Jaggy Bunnet!)

As soon as we left the ferry in Craignure we headed for Duart Castle, perched in its superb location and home of Lord McLean. The views from the castle were superb, looking up Loch Linnhe to a snow-covered Ben Nevis.

After the obligatory coffee and scone we headed out to Grasspoint, where there was once a ferry and cattle drovers actually swam their animals to the mainland. Two magnificent Sea Eagles were sitting on a rock opposite- a long way off - luckily a family who were birdwatching let us view them through their telescope.

Back to Craignure for a sandwich then off towards Tobermory. We stopped for a while near Pennygown to see of any porpoises would turn up but to no avail. A couple of small aircraft landed at the grass strip airport at Glenforsa, uncomfortably close together, I thought.

Earlier This Morning...

...this was the view towards the Isle of Mull from just outside Oban. There is a cycle path from Dunbeg right into the heart of Oban.

The Mull ferry was packed - with Americans, Germans, French, Italians - and even a few Brits!

This island is almost like a second home. I'll tell you what we did later, after we've been down into Tob for something to eat. I'm starving!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Mull Here We Come!

Tomorrow morning we take the ferry from Oban to Craignure on Mull for three days on the island I'm most familiar with, having visited annually for the last 40 years. I used to compete on the Tour of Mull Rally every October, if you're wondering!

On this occasion the pace will be a little slower. Duart Castle, Salen and an evening in Tobermory tomorrow. Dervaig, Calgary Bay, Ulva, Loch na Keal and Loch Scridain Tues; Iona and Erraid Wednesday, then the ferry back to Oban.

Will we see Otters, Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles?

I'll let you know...

The Photo I would have paid good money not to show...

Tonight we are being hosted once again by Dave & June Bleazard near Oban, and have been given free use of the washing machine - not a moment too soon for me! Richard sneaked this photo which I'd rather my missus doesn't see!!

The Falls of Lora

The tide race below the bridge at Connel can be very impressive, with strong currents and big standing waves. A few intrepid kayakers were enjoying themselves there this afternoon.

The Bridge at Connel

By the way, Oban was a bit of a shock - more people and buildings than we've seen for some time!

Many of you will have seen the bridge at Connel - this is what it's like when you travel over it, although I can't guarantee that you'll meet this type of vehicle every time...


A familiar sight to many of you I presume...

Approaching Oban

Sorry the photo isn't straight - but the view up Loch Linnhe to Ben Nevis and its neighbours takes some beating.

Friday, 18 May 2012

To The End Of The Day

The ride down the length of South Uist seemed take longer than expected and my legs were beginning to complain, so I was glad to find that extreme rarity in the Outer Hebrides - a café - at Kildonan. One of only two on a stretch of road running to at least 40 miles'

After a few more miles of pleasant, if not breathtaking, scenery, we arrived at Dalabrog, a few miles from Lochboisdale. The choice of accommodation was an uninviting Bunk House / Hostel or the Bhorrodail Hotel. We did our best to negotiate a deal at the hotel and after getting 33% off realised that was the bottom line. Still a bit dearer than a B&B, but compared to last night's effort, much better value! So I've dipped into the 'next holiday' fund - sorry Val! Our first night in a hotel on this trip.

What, I hear you ask, was the matter with last night's B&B? ...

The big old house was so cold. The heating eventually came on around 6 pm but the radiator in the Residents' Lounge was on the frost-stat setting. The bathroom was freezing and I only found out in the morning that the light was one of those infra-red 'pig lamps'. The TV in our tiny bedroom wouldn't work. At breakfast, EVERYTHING was to order. I asked for Weetabix and muesli, which our host brought in the bowl, saying "I didn't know whether you wanted one Weetabix or two, so I gave you just one." Thanks. I had to ask for fruit juice. And all this for an almost eye-watering £32 pppn. But now I feel a tiny bit guilty: after taking the money she gave me £5 back for Cancer Research.

Which reminds me - wouldn't you like to help the fight against cancer? It's very easy - make sure you have a credit/denit card handy, then just follow one of the links on this blog, and you can make a difference, and show that you're at least as generous as our B&B host last night!

Thank you!

No, don't shut down this page yet! Please make a donation, however small!

South Uist, and a gradual change of a religious nature...

In the Outer Hebrides the north is the territory of the strict Free Church of Scotland. You know where you are when a notice on the Harris Golf Course proclaims "NO GAMES TO BE PLAYED ON SUNDAY" - and it was on the agenda at last year's AGM for not being big enough.

But on arriving in South Uist there is a roadside shrine to 'Our Lady of the Isles', followed by more statues of a Roman Catholic nature further along.

Whatever your persuasion of a religious nature - or otherwise - it's interesting to compare the apparent complete lack of hostility here with the former troubles in Northern Ireland or the tensions generated during an 'Old Firm' game in Glasgow!

Every Form of Transport Needs Fuel

And this is me refuelling en route, on either Twix biscuit or Jamaican Ginger Cake. I'd filled up earlier on 4-star battered haggis and chips, thanks to Sarah Palin, bit the needle was soon bouncing on the red line again!

Approaching the causeway from Benbecula to South Uist

Thanks to these causeways it's now possible to drive from Eriskay in the south, via S Uist, Benbecula and N Uist, to Berneray in the north, a distance of over 55 miles.

A Traditional Cottage

...on Grimsay island, complete with thatched roof and big stones to stop it from blowing off. Very pretty!

More Island Bagging

First of all, the eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the deliberate mistake in the last post. I was so keen to alliterate the title that I forgot that lobsters are decapods, not tetrapods. You just can't get the staff...

Now, where was I? Oh yes...

We cycled south through the island of Benbecula, which is peppered with lochans and sea inlets. In places you can't tell whether there is more water than land or vice versa. An elderly couple came cycling in the opposite direction, complaining that they'd been battling a headwind for two days. We knew how they felt!

It was after 12 noon when we got to the junction for the next islands, so instead of turning off we carried on to South Uist where we knew there was a café. Imagine our surprise to find that Sarah Palin runs it! Yes folks, if you thought the controversial Governor of Alaska had been keeping a low profile recently, it's because she's running Mary's Café just over the causeway on South Uist. She served us with battered haggis & chips plus a sample of battered white pudding. Only a few thousand calories...

We retraced our footsteps to visit the island of Griomasaigh (another causeway) and then three tiny islands, which were so small I decided they couldn't count, linking to Eilean na Cille. There were Redshanks and Oystercatchers everywhere. I have so many photographs, but I can only post the ones on my iPhone whilst I'm away. When I get home I'll try to post a selection of the best!

Trotters Independent Tetrapods

At the end of the road on the tiny island of Floddaigh, next to the bus turning circle, lies this sad Reliant, covered in gaffer tape and with two lobster creels to the rear.

The Car Tax has expired.

Oh The Joy of a Following Wind!

Our first 8 miles this morning were with a 20 mph tailwind - we flew along, stopping only to look at a stunning Black-throated Diver on a small lochan.

Our first new island was Baleshare, off the W coast of N Uist, reached, like many islands today, by a causeway. There are a few houses and farms there; on our return the wind was in our face and a sharp shower made us feel we were being pebbledashed!

Every time we go under some power lines the wind howls - it's very atmospheric!

In between N Uist and Benbecula is a small island called Grimsay, which was next, and off this is another smaller island which seems to have different names on different maps. Baile Glas will do, I guess. It was a one-way cycle there and back, after which we crossed a longer causeway to Benbecula.

The roads are very flat - no hills at all to speak of. We turned left to another tiny island called Floddaigh, where a surprise was waiting at the far end of the island...

NINE Islands in ONE DAY!

I'll give you the full list later! In the meantime here's Richard as we get to Floddaigh, off Benbecula.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Yesterday - we arrive on Scalpay

As you can see from the cycling cape, it's raining. The road from Tarbert to Scalpay is the hilliest 5 miles in the world!

On the road to Lochportain

From Berneray to North Uist

Whilst we had lunch, the wind blew our bikes over. It seems like a constant Force 8 or 9. Then across the causeway (opened by Prince Charles, Lord of the Isles) to Norrh Uist and more stunning views.

We headed towards Lochportain just to be sure it isn't an island (it isn't) then on to Lochmaddy. Freezing cold and even windier. After a visit to the cafe / museum we headed to our lodgings at The Old Court House. Not the warmest house in the world.

Now we're at the Tigh Dearg hotel opposite, having demolished a venison pie each. Tomorrow should see us calling at a record EIGHT islands, finishing on South Uist, so watch this space!

Across the Causeway

Yesterday we cycled an extra 20 miles in order to make life easier today, because the forecast was for heavy rain and gales. So this morning the sun was shining brightly! Mind you, it was blowing a gale too, and still frreeeezzzing cold!

After a relaxed start to the day we went down to the ferry terminal, to find that there's no ticket office - pay on the boat then! There were no more than 12 cars waiting to go across, plus me, Richard, and a couple on a tandem.

I soon realised why the ferry takes an hour - it has the most zig-zagging course of all as it avoids the various rocks, skerries and shallows. But you couldn't take your eyes off the view!

The ferry actually lands on Berneray, so we headed for the island's nearest café, to be served by an unusually miserable waitress. When Richard went to pay, she said, tersely, "Pay in the shop", so he went round to the shop and there she was again!

More soon...

From Harris to North Uist

Another photo from yesterday - one of the idyllic Harris beaches

A photo from yesterday - Bonnie Prince Charlie memorial on Lewis

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

80 Miles Fully Loaded!

Now it's late, and I've no photos (perhaps just one), but it's been a good day on some respects so for a change I'll just give you a few bullet points and fill in the details later.

* Left Great Bernera at 0830 in lovely sunshine after a fantastic breakfast which included Mrs MacAuley's home made drop scones.

* Made great progress back to Tarbert, passing a funeral (everyone in Lewis must have been there) and climbing / descending the awesome Clisham pass. 48 miles.

* Visited Island no 23 - Scalpay. The 5 miles from Tarbert to Scalpay must be the hilliest in the UK. Rain started as we left Tarbert and never let up.

* Forecast for tomorrow is heavy rain & high winds. So decided to press on to ferry terminal at Leverburgh to avoid mileage tomorrow.

* Big hills, barren, barren landscapes then sandy beaches to die for. Rain got heavier, wind got stronger, and temperature got colder. Arrived B&B 7.00 pm. Walked half mile to restaurant and almost needed treatment for hypothermia.



Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Great Bernera

...and so the slog continued, at a snail's pace. No let up from the evil wind.

But to be fair, the rather monotonous views of the peat bogs of Lewis were relieved on the last six or seven miles to Great Bernera, where the scenery was much more interesting. But our legs were now like lead. Molten lead, to be more precise.

We finally arrived at the plain, but picturesque white bridge (opened 1953) joining 'GB' to Lewis. We should then have returned and gone to Breasclete via Callanish (standing stones) but we were knackered. After only 40 miles!

We went a further 2 miles to Breaclete, and asked at the Petrol Station/Post Office/General Store if there were any B&Bs. 'Nobody seems to be doing it any more' was the reply. Perhaps Mrs MacAuley..? No reply to our phone call. 'She may be at the Community Centre playing bowls.'

So off I went on my bike to the centre, where Mrs M was indeed playing bowls, but she didn't do B&B any more. I asked very nicely if she could come out of retirement and she agreed.

So here we are. Possibly one of the remotest places in the British Isles.

Never was so much energy expended to achieve so few miles. But at least, look at the view from my bedroom...

Great Bernera - the view from my bedroom window!

Cancer Research UK

By the way folks, if you're enjoying this blog, how about making a small (or large!) donation to Cancer Research UK? On days like today a few well-timed donations would make all the difference to morale, and more importantly help kick cancer.

All the links are here on the blog. Please be generous and make a difference! Thank you!

How to get from one island (Harris) to another (Lewis) without getting your feet wet.

Harris - more hills then a Dutch Mountain!

The first job this morning was to climb all the way back to the maIn road, after which... It kept climbing and climbing some more. Followed by a long, long descent to sea-level at Loch Seaforth.

I couldn't believe how far we must have climbed! Once on the flat, the headwind kicked in -a steady, unrelenting, energy-sapping, soul-destroying, 25mph Dutch Mountain of a wind which reduced progress to 8 mph average at best.

The miles ever-so-slowly rolled by, with not a village nor a shop nor a café to be seen. Stopping pedalling for one second was like applying the air brakes. We crossed the arbitrary boundary between the island of Harris and the island of Lewis (if you didn't know, it's all the same island).

Steve Lee, from Clitheroe, overtook us and stopped to say hello. We had seen a sign for a café (whoop! whoop!) so headed there for a chat. A sign said 'OPEN 10 - 6. CYCLISTS WELCOME' Underneath this another sign said 'CLOSED. OPEN AGAIN AT 1.00 AM' I'd love to be able to go back at one o'clock in the morning to see if they really are open...!

Sandwiches (courtesy of Richard and Cindy) by the roadside, followed by frostbite for an hour. Then we turned left off the Stornoway road towards island no 22, Great Bernera, to realise that up to now the wind had not even been full in our faces. It was now.

We weren't even half way.

Harris - a very hilly place, and a right royal welcome

We arrived at Tarbert yesterday afternoon, to be met by Terry & Jean, friends of Richard's sister; a heavy rain shower; and Richard Barrett, whose B&B we were to stay at.

About four miles out of town we hit the first big hill, which went on for miles. Just before we reached the snow-line we turned right towards the village of Marig and dropped right back down to sea-level again in exactly one mile.

We had arrived at Lochedge, a stunning property, bristling with eco-technology - heated by a ground source heat pump, solar panels and so on. As well as running the B&B with wife Cindy, Richard has written books for Cicerone Guides, including 'Walking on Lewis & Harris' and 'Cycling the Hebrides' (now there's a catchy title - why didn't I think of that?)

To help with our costs Cindy and Richard had kindly given us a very special rate, fed us well and even thrown in a malt whisky and some pleasant conversation at the end of the evening.

It's not the cheapest B&B by a long way, but if ever you fancy spoiling yourself, Lochedge is the place!

North Harris...

Monday, 14 May 2012

From the Uig - Tarbet ferry

Skye to Harris (2)

The crosswind up on the north of Dkye was nearly enough to blow you off your bike. But we got to Uig in good time for the ferry to Harris.

A few motorbikers on the ferry too - a friendly group of five from Halifax doing a tour of the Isles.

Once on Harris we were met by Richard (our host for tonight) - on his bike- who led us back to his lovely guest house in the north of the island.

Where we stayed, eating, drinking and talking until now. And I must get to bed! One more photo and that's it!

The View to the north of Trotternish

Skye to Harris

Sorry for the late blog folks but we've been having a sociable evening with our hosts tonight, Cindy and Richard Barrett of the Lochedge Guest House at Marig, nr Tarbert. I'll tell you more about the tomorrow, time permitting.

Very wet start this morning out of Portree past the Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock, through Staffin and Flodigarry to the very north of Skye. Things brightened up as we got to the museum of crofting life but we still had to press on to be sure of catching the ferry to Harris.

More soon...

Cycling Around the Trotternish Peninsula

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Peaceful Portree

It seemed like a long time, sitting in the Tongadale Arms in Portree, with the rain lashing down outside and the windows rattling with the wind. The flow of time wasn't helped by the Scottish accordion music, which began to grate after a few hours...

Andy arrived around 5pm and, once we had put all our wet things back on he led us through Portree to his house. It was still raining hard and the wind was trying to turn my cycling cape (on loan from Richard) into an inverted umbrella. This does not help visibility, by the way.

Andy had intended to do some cycling with a John O'Groats to Lands End-er, but had been walking in Torridon with his partner Cat instead. Brave couple! He's a dentist in Portree, house-sitting for a man from Kendal who has just turned up! He seemed to know that we'd be here...

It's stopped raining at last. I've even seen some blue sky. Still windy but hopefully it will have died down a little by tomorrow, when we intend to cycle round the northern part of Skye to Uig, and then take the ferry to Tarbert on Harris.

The locals keep saying how wonderful the weather has been. Until now. After last year it has a familiar ring to it!


Another Photo of the Rain

The white bit is water rushing down the hillside

The Heavens They Did Open

When I woke around 6.00 am and looked out it was windy but it wasn't raining. I went back to sleep, and by 7.00 it was absolutely lashing down. The rain was being driven sideways AND bouncing off the road.

Breakfast was a thoughtful affair. We couldn't contemplate spending 5 hours on Raasay with no shelter, but that decision was taken out of our hands anyway as I believe the Raasay sailing was cancelled (along with several others in this part of the world). Cycling the 26 miles to Portree wouldn't just be uncomfortable, it would be downright dangerous. Could we get to Portree by bus, WITH the bikes?

We found a timetable, which seemed to show no buses on Sunday, then found a service at 1145. So hope, perhaps. We got down to the bus shelter in time, and found two drowned Dutchmen and a Scot. The wind and rain were horrendous.

When the bus arrived the driver told us he wasn't allowed to carry bikes... but today he would make an exception! Off we went: streams and rivers were bursting (and it had only been raining for four hours); aquaplaning was a real danger. The bus wheels were throwing up huge amounts of water and I dreaded to think what it would have been like being passed by such a vehicle.

Now we are in Portree. It's just far too wet to do anything, so we're twiddling our thumbs until our host for tonight arrives around 6 pm.

Where did I put that book?

There's Rain, and There's RAIN

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sunday's Weather Forecast

Tomorrow looks like a problem. The forecast is for heavy rain and extreme winds all day.

The ferry from Sconser (on Skye) to Raasay island leaves at 1030 then ties up on the Raasay side until 1600. The island is very strictly Presbyterian and it looks like everywhere, including the hotel, will be closed. We'll get to the ferry and enquire of the boatmen what our options are, but I am not prepared to risk hypothermia. If there's nowhere to go we may have to give Raasay a miss. Fingers crossed.

Did you know that Presbyterian is an anagram of Britney Spiers?

Goodnight all!

P.S. You'll have gathered that we are safely on the Isle of Skye. Not enough time to update the blog but I'll try tomorrow.

A Change of Itinerary: Solving the 'Outer Hebrides Problem'

I've made some changes to our plans for later next week. Our original itinerary was as follows:

... Fri 18-5 Lochmaddy (N Uist) to Castlebay (Barra)

Sat 19-5 Barra to Vatersay then cycle all the way back to Lochmaddy for 1600 ferry to Uig

Sun 20-5 Cycle Uig to Mallaig

Mon 21-5 Cycle Mallaig to Tobermory via Kilchoan.

The last three days were all hard going and there was a good chance we would fail to get to the Lochmaddy - Uig ferry on time.

Having studied the ferry timetables again, we've found what we think is a much better alternative:

...Fri 18-5 Lochmaddy to Lochboisdale (S Uist)

Sat 19-5 Lochboisdale to Eriskay, Barra & Vatersay.

Sun 20-5 0920 Ferry from Castlebay to Oban

Mon 21-5 Oban - Craignure (Mull) then resume original itinerary at Tobermory.

This cuts out a lot of repetitive / wasted mileage and I'm hoping it will work well!

Blue Sky over Canna