Outer Hebrides Castlebay north to Bernaray 2021
LaVita West Scotland Tour
Day Two - Barra to Berneray (125km cycling)
Wake up, check weather forecast. In no location is this more relevant than the Scottish Western Isles and Outer Hebrides!
After a day of good weather on the mainland and Barra, the rain descended on our day two. Cycling in rain isn't about staying dry - it's how long you can avoid getting wet!
It was full wet weather gear for everyone as we set off from The Isle of Barra Hotel (http://www.isleofbarrahotel.co.uk/). 10km to the Ardmhor ferry was a slow grind as we got used to the rain and wind. Fortunately the ferry terminal had an excellent little cafe; and less than an hour after breakfast, an excellent opportunity for a second snack in the shape of a lemon cake and a coffee. Rule one of cycle touring - never pass a cafe without eating the cake.
The ferry is clearly well used to strong winds and 40mph presented no problems. We rocked our way to Eriskay Ferry Terminal the sea splashed on the passenger compartment windows.
A strong south westerly wind greeted us on Eriskay - highly beneficial in getting us up the early hills. We rounded the headland then descended and crossed the causeway north. South Uist is beautiful; rocky and barren North Atlantic geology with hardy grasses and heathers. The first half of the day was mercifully flat so we were able to make progress despite the rain.
By 11am we reached the Borrodale Hotel (https://www.isleshotelgroup.co.uk/borrodale-hotel) who took pity on us and opened early to provide coffee and crisps. We regrouped and compared levels of wetness.
Another lesson from the tour; cafes are not open throughout the day and are not plentiful. It will usually be worth stopping at each cafe even if this means a fairly short stint on the bike. After the hotel stop we had an emergency visits to Coop supermarket in Daliburgh for supplies and sugary snacks before another 10km to the next supermarket. More exceptional scenery and by 1pm the worst of the rain had passed. We sat in the Creagorry Coop car park and dried socks on the tarmac while eating Coop sandwiches and pork pies.
The final push to Berneray was a slog as some of our group were feeling the effects of lack of experience at the distance and conditions. We lightened the luggage of those members of the group to help them out and arrived at 7pm at Brightwater B&B at Berneray (highly recommended and super friendly).
We enjoyed a beautiful meal at the Bernaray Bistro (https://www.bernerayshopandbistro.co.uk/) and discovered it has a local shop open from 9am. It was a friendly and welcoming end to a challenging day and we all slept solidly!
Next - Berneray to Stornoway - or not!