A Bike Ride to the End of the Outer Hebrides

Last week I cycled to the very northern tip of the Isle of Lewis – the Ness or Butt of Lewis. The journey took in the Bealach na Ba which is, of course, the biggest road ascent in Britain, starting at sea level and going up to a little bit over 2000 feet. It’s not the highest road, and only the last mile or so is seriously steep, but the scenery is tremendous. The weather was poor for this with gale force gusts of wind down the pass so we got off and walked, and rain. But what a place! I’ll add a photo. Ah, the little yellow dot is Guy, my companion in this venture, leaving me behind at speed as he hurtles upwards.

I also visited the remarkable Inverewe Gardens, and an NGS garden on the Lewis. Amazing what you can grow in the windy, cool and rainy climate – with the aid of a polytunnel and lots of organic matter, and it seemsthat everybody grows theĀ purple, wonderfully scented, Rosa Rugosa ‘cos it likes the climate. The day we visited Inverewe included, later on, the lovely ride around An Teallach – so excellent that I took a video, which you can view here (tho’ don’t use Internet Explorer because it doesn’t do the open code ogg video, why? because Microsoft has this bizarre dislike of free codecs, but use Chrome or Firefox and you’ll be OK).

Towards the end there was a stunning wind assisted hurtle from Ullapool to Inverness (a surprisingly short ride), which got diverted to Munlochy so wecould sample the Black Isle Brewery’s wares in their new-ish location (well, it’s about half a mile from the old location). The Black Isle Brewery’ s Oatmeal Hibernator Stout was my favourite. The Brewery Tour was short since this is only a small brewery but it was amusing and allowed you to sniff the malted barley which is a delight when it’s a lovely chocolate malt. Northern Scotland had been suffering a drought, apparently, until we arrived but our arrival brought with it a fair bit of rain.
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