The Hebridean Way

I thought it a good idea way back in the summer to pack a tent and all things lightweight and go do a cycle ride, so the 185 mile Hebridean Way covering the islands of Vatersay, Barra, Eriskay, South and North Uist, Harris and finally Lewis became a 300 plus mile cycle ride.

Its a day of trains to get there and another to get back but well worth the effort, South to North with the prevailing winds (gales) is also a must along with a good weather window as it must be a hard place to live all year round.

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Early morning ferry to Castlebay, Barra via Coll and Tiree
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Once in the open the swell caused a lot of those little white bags to be used !
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So in the words of Chairman Mao Tse-tung “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” I’ll be off then !
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War casualties….
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….amongst the plane wreckage
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Loads of beautiful isolation if that’s what you crave
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Waiting for the ferry to Eriskay and South Uist
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The 17:30 to Eriskay
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First night on South Uist, Kilbride campsite
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Typical campers cabin…
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…with all mod-cons…
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…5 star eh !!
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Loads of coastal scenery
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Bays
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Lochs and Mochair
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With great roads to match the big skies
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Need to be careful where I stop, don’t want a ticket !
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The ride into Tarbert, rain forecast so it’s a hotel room for me
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You meet some interesting people on the bike, Benji the spaniel brought along his two companions which was a wise move as one is a Doctor the other a theatre nurse, very clever dog !
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This ones Gin not Whisky
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Isle of Lewis, the last island and as you can see from the snow poles it has a bit of altitude and snow in the winter months
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Sea Loch views, beautifully peaceful and tranquil 
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Loch Erisort inn, you’ve guessed it, on Loch Erisort, my bed for the night, on the lawn at the back, never slept a wink due to gale force winds threatening to blow me into the Loch itself ! I think the fish n chips plus a few beers earlier worked as a great ballast !
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A wet, windy Sunday ride up the West coast of Lewis so a great B&B/Bunkhouse in South Galson was a welcoming thought
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Next morning is a different day, sunny and calm, after scaring Raven and Golden Eagle from the beach front I found why they hung around
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With the tail stretching out it must have been over 4 m long
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Every cemetery has a view
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Two of many
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Look into the far distance and you’ll see the Butt of Lewis, the end of the Hebridean Way
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One last stop in Port Of Ness
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There she blows (glows) the Butt lighthouse strangely built of brick
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Warning mariners…
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…of serious danger but beautiful views
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That’s me with my Hebridean goaty

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Finished ! Well not quite
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Cycle to Stornaway for the ferry onto Ullapool after a Guinness or two to celebrate. That’s me in the middle, they don’t call them “coffin tents” for nothing
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The train crossing the Firth of Forth looking down on Inchgarvie island once used as a quarantine port for incoming ships
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Rockanje, South Holland.

 

For our last week we moved closer to the Hook of Holland and the ferry departure date, Rockanje, about 20 mile south of the Hook. Another site with Deer, goats, rabbits, ponies the works so it was very quiet until the peacock struck a chord !

Once again loads to see and do right on the North Sea coastline so would return if the ferry over was ever late over.

Right where next………..

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Greeted to this Dutch goal scorer near the site, I asked the owner if that was for when Holland scored, he said we haven’t qualified ! Doh!! I blagged it saying I was a rugby man myself !
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Best cycle route planner yet, each post has a number and the direction to the next number, you choose, long or short, simples.
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Easy….
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…you can still take a wrong road if you don’t concentrate !
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Herons…….
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….and Greylag geese
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The Dutch making hay !!
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Ingenious mechanical bridges and canals

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Saw loads of these bags hanging from flag poles, found out that when you finish school for the last time you chuck your bag on a flag pole ?
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Lovely places to visit and spend time near
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Big seafarers in their day the Dutch
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You can see why….
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….with all these waterways
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Blowing a gale on the North Sea coast line !
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I struggled to see the resemblance with Torbay myself ?
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So another trek finished…
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….with Stenna taking us home via Harwich, bye. 

The Yacht club, Culemborg, Gelderland.

With loads of washing to be done before we returned home a Yacht club is the place to be, Culemborg itself is full of character with loads of places to see and loads to do.

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The classic Dutch windmill
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Loads of churches and spires, good landmarks in this flat land
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Typical Dutch shape for their houses
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Everywhere surrounded by river, canals and dykes of every description
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All very well kept.
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The market square with cyclists and pedestrians along with cars mixing easily, begs the question why can’t we !!
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More personalised glass to be drunk from !
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Cycles either side and motorists up the center, no center road markings, if someone comes the other way just be sensible about it, easy.

Kessel

Having crossed into Holland we find a nice little site run by a young couple eager to please, beers in the fridge, if no ones about put your money in the box, when you leave if no ones about put your money in the box, very trusting and it works.

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A very peaceful place to stay, all farm land, cycle tracks and canals but that’s Holland in a nutshell really.
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The town of Kessel sits on the river complete with castles and market squares
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She’s always on the outside looking in !
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Old river lookout with a modern roof section.
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You need to be patient on these Dutch cycle trips….
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….but once on the ferry it is normally less than a Euro, which is money well spent if you don’t want a 20 km detour or you don’t want to get wet !
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Not only very close to the German border it’s also close to the Belgium border and their Trappist breweries!
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If they haven’t got the right glass they will not serve you the beer ! (I know a bit of France just crept into shot) you soon adapt to drinking less quantity but then again the beers are up to 10% strength so a bit of quality then.
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Bit of venison !
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And something for the Walloons !!

Hirschhorn, Heidelberg

Hirschorn had its own castle guarding the near oxbow in the river, well worth a visit as it was only small but compact, it had its own train station straight into Heidelberg which was a very busy place on the Sunday we visited with the castle bringing in busses of Japanese tourists.

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Camping next the river courtesy of Hirschhorn FC
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The view from the van up river to the huge lock and hydro-electric dam
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Another traditional house in the walled town
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Ice cream time me thinks
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So a 30 minute train ride into Heidelberg, I know it’s a boat, I didn’t get the train on film ! But you get the idea of the river
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Statues and columns
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It’s all about famous people on the bridges, I don’t know who she is on the left though with the mozzie net on ?
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“A plinth with a view”
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The castle in its day stood guard at the only river crossing bridge
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Got my eye on this elderly Japanese couple, every shop she visited he unfolded his walking stick seat and sat patiently for her return ! Clever fella !

Durbach & Oberkirch

We found Durbach while looking for Oberkirch, both well heeled wine growing areas with houses laying in the valleys overlooked by the vines. Once you pay the tourist tax you are allowed free travel on all the busses and trains in the Black Forest area so we stayed  a while to explore.

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Wine growing region and very hilly
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This is the tourist office, not a bad little office eh !
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Streams and flowers everywhere
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All the vines have the best hillside views with paths everywhere
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Big houses sit on the top
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With free train tickets we took a ride up the valley and a walk back so far to look at some of the novelty
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The place is full of international water bottling plants as the water from deep below is naturally carbonated also the hotels thrived on the health benefits years ago and still do
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Being in the Black Forest all the superstitions are on show
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So ! It’s a giant flower press ?
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Stone & running water thingy !
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Beer at the top of the vineyard trail
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Proper man mountain shed
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Planter made from the old vine stumps, nothing wasted

Bad Durrheim

Another great choice of sites, stayed here the first week of June for €16/night with EHU then they give you two free 3 hour sessions each day for the spa worth €12 each, no brainier that one. A really relaxing place to stay although it does attract the elderly types due to the mineral waters health benefits.

In the 1920’s they drilled into the warm mineral/salt rich water table, brought it to the surface to dry out and leave the white gold, now the spa has numerous pool of differing salt concentrations which you just float around in, very civilised I think.

All this brought the rich and well heeled which you can see in the houses and hotels so will return if I’m anywhere close by.

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Loads of old quaint things in Bad Durrheim…
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…we call it Bad Durham but it came with mineral spa and cake cafes
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Old factories where once salt was produced
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Little churches in the middle of nowhere, complete with lead roof linings !
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Beautiful gardens to just sit and relax
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Again loads of cycle paths to explore
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Mineral spa….
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…..with loads of outdoor space
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After all that healthy detoxed living it’s time to spoil it all ! Apple strudel to keep the blood sugars up !