We had a yen to cycle around the Outer Hebrides for several years. Karen and I moved to Inverurie, just north of Aberdeen on the East coast of Scotland in March 2007. We had always wanted to see more of Scotland and this was our chance. Karen bought a book called The Ultimate Scottish Cycling Book by Paul Lamarra. This is a comprehensive guide to cycle-touring in Scotland and has rides in the lowlands, highlands, east, west and of course the Outer Hebrides. The ride around Mull sounded enticing, but the Outer Hebrides really attracted us. Travelling to some of the western most isles by sea and then island hopping from one to the other by ferry sounded just up our street. We also gained good insight from Gilbert Summers' website, Must See Scotland
The Outer Hebrides, or Gaels as they are known locally are not the westernmost point of Scotland, but they are still a 6 hour ferry ride from Oban, which is the main staging points for trips to the both the Inner and Outer Hebrides. A number of further ferry hops and causeways link the more southern of the Outer Hebrides islands, Barra and Vatersay via South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist to Harris and Lewis. Another attractive thing about the Outer Hebrides is that it is possible to wild camp, as long as you are sensible, don't cause a nuisance and take your litter with you.
Where to Start from and Getting There.
From Inverurie we could drive, travel by bus or train and could depart from various places on the Scottish West Coast. We felt that it would be nice to go south from Harris down to Barra, the southernmost of the Main Outer Hebrides, but we read that the prevailing winds were predominantly from the south to south west. So we changed our plan and decided to head North from Barra instead, finishing on the northern most of the Outer Hebrides islands, Harris and Lewis. Of course that year the winds decided otherwise and we ended up cycling into a strong head wind all the way up Uist.
The best travel method proved to be by rail. We bought the Scot Rail Rover ticket now known as The Spirit of Scotland Travelpass, which provides for 8 days travelling out of 15 days by bus, Ferry or rail. So this option worked out the most convenient and cheapest. (unfortunately, these tickets are only valid for travel within Scotland, so if you are coming from outside the country you will have
Our route would take us by train from Inverurie (only two minutes from home) to Oban on the west coast via Aberdeen and Glasgow. The island hopping commenced with the Calmac ferry from Oban to Castlebay on the Outer Hebrides Island of Barra followed by the ferry to Eriskay and across the causeway to South Uist. We then take the long western route up South Uist and across the causeway to Benbecula and onward through North Uist to the lovely small island of Berneray. Another ferry took us to Harris and finally back by ferry to Skye and the ride to Kyle of Lochalsh where we picked up the train via the Glen Carron, through Inverness back to Inverurie. A total of 15 days.
Our ride descriptions give an account of the ride that we completed. As
part of the description we also provide links to google maps and
elevation profiles based on mapping data available through the internet.
The ride profiles are smoothed to give what in our opinion is a more
beneficial view of the profile. We use paper maps, GPS and on line data
to plan and conduct our rides. We are happy for you to use our
descriptions, but be aware that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the
information provided as situations surrounding any ride change over