12 Island Bike Tour, August 2006
(Click on thumbnail to enlarge) Copyright Malcolm Sharp 2006.  All rights reserved. (Home)

Having cycled through the Outer Hebrides on two previous occasions I was keen to see more of the islands, but there is a limited amount you can see on a bicycle unless you have lots of time, especially as on both previous visits I seemed to be battling a headwind.  This time I wanted the benefit of a bike with an engine so I could enjoy the island scenery but have a few more horsepower available to get my own back on the wind.  I managed to find 5 free days at the end of August where the weather was looking half reasonable, so I packed my tent and fishing rod on my elderly but trustworthy motorcycle and headed to Oban to catch a ferry to Barra.  My trip covered the islands of Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, Baleshare, North Uist, Berneray, North and South Harris, Scalpay and then back to the mainland via Skye.  I missed out Lewis on this trip due to time constraints.  Many of the islands are now connected by causeway so the trip can be completed with only five ferry crossings, the longest being the 5 hour crossing from Oban to Barra.   I was lucky in that all my crossings were smooth and on the trip from Oban to Barra we were rewarded with sightings of two schools of dolphins and a rather impressive basking shark.  The island roads are wonderful for biking, not fast at all and often demanding with sand and gravel to catch out the unaware, but there are spectacular views round every corner, particularly if the sun shines and turns the beaches white and the sea a turquoise blue.  Some of the sights are shown below with a few more views of the islands from my previous cycling trips here.

ferry_oban.jpg (137674 bytes) folly.jpg (166648 bytes) vatersay_beach.jpg (120219 bytes) twin_otter.jpg (71401 bytes)
camp_traigh_mor.jpg (101654 bytes) bike_jetty.jpg (139921 bytes) otter_sign.jpg (73705 bytes) otters.jpg (162005 bytes)
eriskay_ferry.jpg (76559 bytes) uist_hills1.jpg (77446 bytes) uist_beach2.jpg (68674 bytes) rocks.jpg (98545 bytes)
bridge.jpg (84315 bytes) bike_cottages.jpg (176116 bytes) cottages.jpg (177087 bytes) south_uist_hills.jpg (51039 bytes)
river_estuary.jpg (80233 bytes) bike_track.jpg (138871 bytes) fishing_shed.jpg (206755 bytes) lobster_pots.jpg (175088 bytes)
tarbert_ferry.jpg (127324 bytes) glen_brittle.jpg (106913 bytes) armadale_ferry.jpg (143449 bytes) bike_cow.jpg (142425 bytes)