New Scottish cycle route opens
Scottish adventurer Mark Beaumont has been quick off the mark to ride the new Hebridean Way Cycling Route on the Outer Hebrides.
The 185-mile route opened just last month – and Mark took only 24 hours to ride the entire route.
Of course, other cyclists will be happy to take more time for the journey across 10 islands in the stunning west coast archipelago.
Heading from the southern island of Vatersay, the route travels north and crosses the islands of Barra, Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist, Berneray, Harris to reach Lewis.
The route, which follows the National Cycle Route 780, is linked by a combination of causeways and ferries and takes in a mix flat terrain and some hills. The views of over rugged hills and the stunning Atlantic coastline are frequently breath-taking.
After his 24-hour ride, Mark told the Scotsman newspaper that the Hebridean Way Cycling Route is “unforgettable”. He said: “What struck me most is the amazing immediacy of the landscape, which changes from island to island. The scenery is stunning, and you’d miss so much of it dashing along in a car.
“This has to be the best part of Scotland, and cycling has to be the best way to see these fantastic islands.”
9 highlights of the Hebridean Way Cycling Route
The small island of Vatersay boasts fabulous views across to the uninhabited isles of Sandray, Pabbay and Mingulay. It’s also home to large colonies of migrating seabirds.
In 1941, cargo ship S.S Politician sank off the north coast of the island of Eriskay. Its cargo of whisky was salvaged by the islanders and inspired the novel Whisky Galore. You can find out more while enjoying a dram in the Am Politician, the island's only pub. Look out, too, for the native Eriskay ponies as you pedal your way across the island.
The secluded location and low levels of light pollution on Benbecula make for some very dark night skies. There's even a Dark Island Hotel and campsite.
Discover the delights of locally reared and smoked seafood at the Hebridean Smokehouse, at Clachan, North Uist.
On a sunny day, the beaches on the west coast of Harris offer stunning views of white sandy beaches and turquoise seas. One of the largest and most spectacular beaches on Harris, is Luskentyre Sands.
Wild at the edges:
The flower-strewn machair (grassy banks) that line many stretches of the Hebridean coastline are a sight to behold. There are many hundreds of different wild flowers in just a small patch of machair.
You’ll be able to spot Lewisian gneiss, which is some of the oldest rocks in the world.
No trip to the Outer Hebrides is complete without a visit to the towering Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis. The group of almost 50 megaliths date from around 3000 BC.
At the Butt of Lewis lighthouse. The lighthouse was designed by David Stevenson to aid shipping in the area in the 1860s. Unusual for a lighthouse in Scotland, it is constructed of red brick, and is unpainted
See Hebridean Way Cycle Route
for more details.
Also see Outer Hebrides Island Hopscotch