Part 1 Lochmaddy to Beneray
First objective for the day was to reach the ferry terminal on Beneray Island in good time. It was only 11 miles and with a following wind but the next ferry was not until 2 hours later thus we all set off relatively early. The morning was cloudy and dry with a moderate breeze from the south-south-east.
Heading northwest from Lochmaddy with the wind filling the ‘spinnaker’ we made quick progress as we retraced our steps from the previous day to Minish and Blashaval before turning north to reach the Beneray causeway and the ferry terminal.
Part 2 Leverburgh to Stornoway
Landing at Leverburgh we loaded the bags onto the taxi and set off to tackle the 56 mile route to Stornoway starting with the ominous looking climb to Rodel. This took us to our southernmost point of the island before heading northeast on narrow single track roads. The terrain was rather rugged with granite type rock covered sparsely with wild grass interspersed with occasional glimpses of the sea. The road to Manish zig-zagged and undulated with tight bends and the narrowness of the road along with the amount of gravel in the centre, made manoeuvring round the corners a little tricky not to mention the number of sheep wandering across the road.
The plan for today was to lunch in Tarbert where we were to be joined by Matthew’s wife Catherine. On arrival we stopped so he could find out where she was. It turned out that there has been a mix up in communication and she wasn’t arriving until the following day. Meanwhile Neil had been completing ‘laps’ in the local fire station forecourt. It must have given him ESP as he announced that everything was closed in Tarbert and we should carry on and find something along the way. “D’ye nae ken laddie, we dinnae wurk on the sabbath”. Less than convinced, Matthew pleaded “What if we don’t find anything open?”. Despite his protestations we continued, eventually coming across the Arisaig Filling station where we discovered an outside tap so at least we could top up water bottles.
As the time went on and the gradient headed upwards into the clouds making the temperature feel rather cold. Turns out what separates Harris from Lewis is a lumpy mountainous region. Once over the top our little band stopped briefly at Clisham car park and chance to use up any energy bars we had. “I get hangry when I don’t get to eat” declared Mr Grumpy fixing Neil with a withering stare.
After leaving the car park the terrain was a bit more undulating skirting the edge of Loch Seaforth from Scaladale to Balallan and offering some stunning scenery. With the wind mostly on the ‘ starboard quarter’ our progress was relatively swift. Which was fortunate as we were beginning to feel like a hungry bear emerging from hibernation. Luckily our small group were able to check in immediately to the Crown Hotel and made straight for the bar. “Any food available?” we enquired. “Sorry the kitchen is closed but there’s free peanuts”. Well beggars can’t be choosers.
While we rehydrated, Simon had found a curry house nearby which (a) was open and (b) didn’t need booking so off we went in search of well earned sustenance. The service didn’t fill us with confidence but the curry was well worth the wait. As an added bonus, Simon picked up the ‘tab’ and wouldn’t let us settle up so a huge thank you Simon.