Daliburgh to Lochmaddy
Today was the first big challenge for our band of adventurers with a 64 mile ride including 2030ft of climbing from South to North Uist. Luckily the wind had now “backed” to south-south-east so would mostly be assisting us. Unluckily it was rather ‘driech’ as they say in Scotland with grey skies and a light drizzle. “Let’s have a later start” suggested Helen hopefully “The forecast is to improve a little then”. With dinner at 7pm and no ferries to catch we all agreed. Breakfast was a simple affair this morning, no ‘Full Scottish’ here. Scavenge what you can find.
Once the bags were loaded into the taxi it was a case of “Well, what do we do now?” as we huddled in the shelter of the bike shed. “I don’t like cycling in the rain” grumbled one voice followed by a low murmur of assent. Eventually one brave optimist piped up “It’s easing off a bit now. I’m up for it”. Reluctantly the others agreed and got ready to mount up buoyed by the thought of the wind from behind. No, not that kind Matthew!
The route North from Daliburgh to the turn off at Bornish was lightly undulating, passing on the way Flora McDonald’s house. At this point we turned towards the west to hug the coastline through Ormacleit returning to the main road after Howbeg. Continuing north through the lovely countryside surrounded by numerous lochs and moorland type landscape we reached the statue of The Lady of the Isles which stands on the side of Ben Ruabhal.
Lunch for today was to be at the Kirkibost cafe on Benbecula, however when we arrived it appeared to be closed. “Let’s keep going there’s bound to be something else along the way” was the general consensus.
Finally the drizzle eased off as we came across Richard parked up with his campervan ‘observing the birds’ at what came to be known as ‘Stinky Beach’. “Why would you stop here?” enquired one rider. “I’m looking at Sanderlings, Oystercatchers and Greylags” informed Richard. “I’m surprised he can identify them from here” muttered Matty. “Yes, but have you seen the size of his ‘lens'” someone commented saucily.
Eventually after passing Benbecula airport we stumbled upon McClean’s bakery shop where sandwiches, pies and drinks were on sale so we set up a makeshift cafe in the lee of the shop.
With the shop about to close at 1pm and the ‘rearguard’ still 30 mins away, Neil asked if the shop would remain open until they arrived, however the response was less than encouraging. Instead he bought up some supplies and left them with Richard in the campervan, a gesture that was really appreciated later.
Leaving Benbecula we crossed several causeways linking the islands of Grimsay and North Uist where we again hugged the west and North coastlines eventually reaching Lochmaddy via Malaclate and Minish. At the sign indicating the outskirts of the town a voice cried out “Boy am I pleased to see that”.