I had my introduction to white water today. First time ever to paddle in white water and I got to do it at the Olympic Legacy course at Lee Valley.
When I cycle I nearly always use my heart rate monitor, it keeps a log of all the miles and exercise that I do. It gives a summary of calories burnt for the current week last week and each month for the last 6 months.
This trip I burnt 10662 calories just when I was on my bike not including walks we went on or the piggy back I gave kate across a river. As I’m a little on the thin side already which is causing me a few shivers once wet when kayaking due to a lack of body fat I thought I better do something about it, especially as autumn is coming and the water is getting colder.
Hence the pancake breakfast!
I feel stuffed.
The best way to keep Kate cycling and camping I have learnt is to treat her to a few luxuries now and then, we spent two nights at a B&B in Timsgarry with great food morning and night time. We stayed in the Yurt which was more glamping than camping and when we got to Oban we went out for dinner. We were stuffed after the sea food platters for two, lobster, prawns, mussels, salmon and crab, yum yum.
I woke up at 6.30 with the morning sun on the tent. Our tent has a huge porch which can easily fit two bikes, from the comfort of my sleeping bag I was able to reach over and boil some water on the stove for coffee. After a while I went back to sleep and it was 11 am before Kate and I set off. Luckily we only had 30 miles to cover.
After a few miles we decided to take a detour which took us through a little village and ended at a deserted beach. From there we followed a track which took us across the Uist military firing range, luckily for us there was no activity and we weaved our way past observation towers and targets.
Back on the main road we cycled into the daily rain shower but for a change we could see blue skies on the horizon. A sign pointing left down a small road indicated to a cafe, but a mile later there was no cafe and we were at another beautiful deserted beach, the sun was out so we decided to get the stove out and cook noodles for lunch.
Our destination was a bunk house which turned out to be a coverted elderly care home and a hospital before that. It’s not the first time Kate and I have stayed in a hospital come care home, however last time it was in New Zealand and there were only 2 other guests, it felt a bit like the movie the shining. Luckily it wasn’t the case here, the room had a comfy bed, and the huge living room had a full size snooker table, sky tv and free WiFi.
Kate and I ditched the paniers and had a cycle around, it felt great to be riding without luggage. We bought fish and chips for dinner and cycled to another deserted beach where we ate dinner on the dunes.
A ride up the beach took us to the remains of three round houses which are thought to date back to around 3000 bc, when they were excavated from the dunes by archeoligists 30 years ago they found human sacrifices and the dead buried in the floors of the houses. As our day of cycling was catching up with us we returned to our elderly care home, hopefully no remains to be found there!
We woke up early in the yurt, there was a rain shower which sounded loud against the yurts canvas waking us up. We had slept on the futon under a quilt, the fire had gone out in the night and it was surprisingly cold. After a coffee we finally got ourselves going for our 12 mile ride to the ferry which would take us to Berneray.
After a stop at the butty bus for a Bacon and egg butty we got on the ferry which was a lot smaller than the previous one and the crossing was only an hour long. We saw a couple of seals on the crossing which wound its way between rocks and islands.
Last off the ferry again and we took a look at the map, we originally planned on staying a couple of miles up the road from where we got off the ferry in Berneray for a night in a thatched bunk house. But whilst we were in the Butty Bus back on Harris we had seen a print out of the weather forecast which had high winds for Friday with 38 mph gusts. As the weather was great with blue skies and low wind we decided to ride down to Benbecula.
After the best day of riding yet and 45 miles later we arrived at the Shellbay campsite. We got the tent up (no yurt tonight) had a shower, cooked dinner, a walk to the beach and then made a trip to the pub for a second dinner where Kate had scallops (which she wouldn’t share).
We left Cearsiadair in sunny clouds but just as we crossed over from Lewis to Harris we were putting on our rain jackets as the down pour started.
Our route was going through Tarbert but to get there we had to climb over what seemed like a massive mountain. By the time we arrived in Tarbert we were soaked, after waiting in the rain we managed to get a table in what seemed to be the only cafe in town.
A burger later we were on our way again, climbing into the wind which almost brought us to a halt several times. After 7 miles we turned off and dropped into a valley littered with giant boulders curving its way down to the sea. In the distance we could see our campsite with our Yurt for the night.
Kate has never been so excited about camping, as well as the Yurt there were 3 black houses with roofs thatched from heather, a kitchen and living room in one and bathroom in the other.
We were still cold and wet from the riding so we got the stove going in our Yurt to warm us up, we were also given a freshly baked loaf of bread upon arrival which was still warm. The Yurt contained everything apart from power points and WiFi. Two futons, rugs, coffee table, gas stove, wood burning stove, two Windows and a door, my first time glamping!
The sun came out and the wind died down, typical after we have finished the toughest day so far, the campsite was beautiful, with a sea loch alongside and great views.
After my 4th cooked breakfast in 4 days we set off to travel to Cearsiadair on the east coast 42 miles away. There is only one road into Timsgarry where we had spent the last two nights and we would be travelling 19 miles along the same stretch until we met up with the A road that would take us to our destination.
Our route zigzagged across the island which meant the wind was behind us at least some of the time. After 2 hours it started to rain, after 3 there was a break in the weather so we decided to have lunch. Unlike other days we hadn’t passed any cafes or shops so at the edge of a loch we parked the bikes against a fence and got the stove out.
Unusually the stove decided to send a 2 ft flame into the air as it was lit but eventually lunch was served in the form of super noodles. Sometime later Kate pointed out to me that I had a new appearance of white singed eyebrows and eyelashes.
After 36 miles we pulled off the A road and followed a B road running along a loch which led to our hostel in the tiny village of Cearsiadair.
I’m not one for lying on the beach for hours, I can get bored quite easily. But sometimes its nice to just relax and enjoy the sun. Unfortunately I forgot sun lotion so I couldn’t enjoy the sun for too long, that and my feet were getting cold. At least the wind was only 18 mph today.