Sunday, October 02, 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 7 Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool Friday 8th July 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 7 Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool 96km 1100m ascent
Cumulative: 582km 5815m ascent Ferries 9 Islands 13
Butt of Ness Lighthouse
An early start again today to the northernmost tip of the Isle of Lewis, well early for us as we are not good at early starts. We had to be in Stornoway for 1pm for the only ferry at 2 so we started riding at 7.30am after tip toeing out of the lovely Gearrannan Blackhouse Village and Hostel. Just regular Oats So Simple instant oat pots and bananas for breakfast, still nowhere near as good as the package instant porridge but we were not carrying milk.

Today is surprisingly lumpy but rolling, so cheating lumps if you whizz down fast enough you can get up the other side without too much effort!  Wild moorland out to Butt of Ness, again no cafés. We were trying to find a coffee and second breakfast stop, but never mind there will be one in Ness.

Stiff westerly and gentle showers so the weather is so much better than last two days too.
The long and not windy (referring to bends not wind!)  road to Borvas and Ness
Borvas Church, I think!
Fabulous model building outside a house on the verge in Ness - long winters!
We made it to Ness around 10am.

Typically Scottish, no entry fee, no facilities, no café just great views and wonderful that it wasn't raining.

We couldn't stay long as we have that 2pm ferry to catch and quite a long ride to Stornoway.

So a few pics including the ubiquitous selfie above! Lots of wildlife and crashing waves.

Butt of Ness lighthouse

Departing view
Mark Beaumont launched the Hebriddean Way in March with 12 hours saddle time over two days. Our moving time was about 14 hours counting Vatersay on Tuesday night over 2 and a half days, in horrendous weather carrying panniers. It was too cold and wet to hang about! I don't think we did too badly.

Now we turn south and start our return journey to Ardrossan. first things first we have only 2 1/2 hours to get to Stornoway for the once a day ferry. Retracing our route back to Banvas before turning eastbound towards Stornoway. Nice to have the stiff westerly behind, and just the occasional shower. No café and probably just as well as it would have been impossible not to stop. We may not have made the ferry!
Peat Moors towards Stornoway
and on they go
and on and on!
With a lot of swooping we came into Stornoway. There were traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and a supermarket and a big boat tied up in harbour. To be honest I hope we didn't see the best bit of Stornoway as it seemed a bit sad.....but we didn't stop and explore so not a good judgement. We arrived exactly an hour before sailing, again a bigger boat so check in is earlier for sailings here. Ferry # 9!
Cal Mac Stornoway - Ullapool Ferry
A french lady's "rig" We had long convos about Brexit in this queue with several nationalities :(
Breakfast and lunch demolished on the ferry. An uneventful 2 1/2 hour crossing brought us to delightful Ullapool. We used the last section of our Cal Mac Hopscotch #8 tickets

Moored in Ullapool
Waterside B&B is 100m from the ferry ramp, I took this photo from the front door! We cannot recommend it highly enough. Superb location, delightful, modern yet characterful rooms overlooking the harbour and fabulous hosts, Fiona and Donnie. We were so lucky to snag a single night gap in high season. Stay here. Preferably for several days.
Our room at Waterside overlooking Ullapool harbour
Boat watching, again!
We went out for a walk around the town, I managed to dart into a gift shop and buy an anniversary card for tomorrow without Steve made me giggle. It was a stunning photo of Steilbost beach on Harris in sunshine, the opposite to how we had seen it! we would have loved to have done some sea kayaking.

We fancied curry and had a perfectly OK curry except mine was pretty cold and there was a long wait. We did talk to a party of bikers from Durham sat next to us who were doing the North Coast 500 in a 3 day weekend, they all obviously had prized "pass outs" They had engines on their bikes...and were lovely friendly guys. We were doing a smallish section of the route by coincidence.
11pm at night Ullapool in July Spot our bikes chained to the railings for the night.
Home to our lovely room and we had this view from our cosy bed.

Touring Tips in Scotland

1 Check ferry timetables carefully, especially for how long before a sailing you need to be there. Usually 10 minutes but big car ferries load bikes first and an hour may be required.

2 Phone B&Bs (don't just enquire online) and see if the best ones (who usually do a 2 night minimum stay because they are still solidly booked) have a 1 night gap when cycle touring.

3 Follow @CalMac_Updates on twitter and check religiously where possible. The ferry timetable/schedule and interruptions are frequent due to weather and mechanicals and really impact a time critical tour. we were so lucky to not have any problems.

Tour d'Ecosse quick links:

Day 1 Isle of Arran and a little Mull of Kintyre
Day 2 Inner Hebrides: Isles of Islay and Jura
Day 3 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Jura-Tayvallich to Oban
Day 4 Oban to Outer Hebrides: Barra and Vatersay
Day 5 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Barra Eriskay South Uist Benbecula Grimsay North Uist Beneray and Harris
Day 6 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Harris and Lewis to Callanish Stones
Day 7 Outer Hebrides: Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool
Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch
Day 9 Gairloch to Shieldaig - Applecross Peninsula
Day 10 Bealach na Bà from Applecross to Plockton
Day 11 Plockton to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale
Day 12 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale to Ardnamurchan
Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Mull to Oban to Loch Melfort
Day 14 Loch Melfort to Tarbert, Loch Fyne
Day 15 Tarbert Loch Fyne to Ardrossan THE END!

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