After ending the Skye Path on the Isle of Skye, I am taking a ferry to Tarbert within the outer Hebrides to hike the 295km/185 miles Hebridean Means.
I am planning on hitching all the best way to the butt of Lewis, the Northern terminus.
It is raining however I do not even wait 5 minutes earlier than getting a journey to Stornoway, the largest metropolis on the islands.
When dropping me off, the girl who gave me a journey provides me her card and tells me to name if I would like something.
I get some fish and chips for lunch, do some grocery procuring earlier than going for my subsequent hitch.
One other very easy one with a pleasant girl who gives to drive me all the best way although it isn’t the place she was going.
It appears to be like like I landed on the Isle of superior individuals…
The path begins with some actually fairly shoreline earlier than happening a mud street after which disappears.
This Northern part shouldn’t be really completed and it is very swampy and really gradual going.
It takes me for much longer than I assumed it might and I finish pitching the tent at 11pm, simply because I can not discover a respectable spot.
Lots of roadwalking in the present day!
Lots of people skip the part between the butt of Lewis and Stornoway and I can see why.
I lastly arrive in Stornoway within the afternoon, get some espresso and ressuply for five days.
I do extra roadwalking earlier than discovering some bushes that can defend me from the wind.
After an hour of climbing I attempt to hitch to Callanish, which is world well-known for its standing stone circle.
It is solely 10km away so it might be foolish to not go.
However it is a actually quiet street and it takes 55 minutes to get a journey.
I do know that as a result of 5 extra minutes and I might have given up and saved climbing.
That is an incredible spot however after standing all that point within the chilly and rain, I am nonetheless fairly chilly.
I hitch again to the path (half-hour this time) and discover some fairly troublesome terrain that is very gradual going.
Within the afternoon I meet my first different hiker, going within the different course, and we speak about how difficult it’s to seek out spots to pitch the tent.
He says he gave up and takes a bus again to a city after day by day of climbing.
The path takes me then to a stupendous moor, the place it is fairly muddy underfoot.
I really had 2 actually dangerous falls in the present day.
It is a miracle I did not injure myself on the primary one, as a result of that was a extremely dangerous one.
On the finish of the day, I discover a good little hut and it is completely good timing because the rain was beginning to get dangerous.
What a day…
Wanting on the climate outdoors from the hut’s window, I am questioning what I am doing right here…
The climate has been so dangerous for thus lengthy, I am actually questioning if it is value staying on the path and in Scotland generally.
Going out of the hut, it is completely horrible.
The wind is insane and at 10am I really feel extra exhausted than after a tough climbing day within the mountains.
After all it is also chilly and raining, however actually, it is the wind that drives me loopy.
I ought to arrive in Tarbert within the afternoon and I determine I simply cannot maintain climbing in these circumstances and that I will take a ferry out of the island and doubtless a flight again house to France, although I had 3 extra weeks of deliberate deliberate.
I stumble upon 2 hikers and one is making an attempt to inform me one thing, but it surely’s completely not possible to listen to a factor due to the wind.
I will by no means know.
As I am having lunch the climate clears up and I am getting some correct views for the primary time in 4 days.
I completely did not realise in any respect that the island is definitely actually lovely.
That cheers me up a bit and I determine to maintain climbing, although I am unsure I will end the path, as a result of if there is no extra fog, the wind remains to be right here.
I’ve to say it was a surprising afternoon regardless of the climate.
However the street walks are insanely harmful.
I at all times thought that folks exaggerate how harmful street walks are generally.
I personally by no means felt in peril on the various street walks I’ve executed through the years on completely different trails.
However that is loopy.
It is a tiny two methods street with just one line and due to the wind you’ll be able to’t hear the automobiles behind you.
That was fairly scary.
Properly, the wind absolutely did not cease and it is nonetheless as loopy as ever.
I assumed I might simply make it for the 4pm ferry going to Berneray, however I shortly realise that with the wind and troublesome terrain, it should be the 6.30pm one.
In some unspecified time in the future the wind will get so intense that I’ve to cease and sit.
To provide you an thought, in 2005 in Lewis, a driver received a sheep blown throughout his windshield.
Not solely this story doesn’t shock me, but when I had learn that it was a cow, it would not have both.
I’ve a while earlier than the subsequent ferry and fortunately there is a ready room to flee the wind.
It fills up shortly with a dozen of 20 one thing, which are planning to remain right here for the evening consuming beer.
The ferry is fairly late and somebody tells me that it broke down and that they are sending a small boat, because it was imagined to be a passenger solely ferry anyway.
The journey on this small boat on a really tough sea is definitely fairly enjoyable, as fortunately I do not get seasick.
Unusually sufficient the journey was free and after telling the driving force (captain? I am unsure the way you name somebody driving a ship in English…) that I will pitch the tent wherever, he tells me that contemplating the climate, I ought to sleep within the bogs on the pier.
In pure hiker trash style, when he mentioned “rest room”, I heard “Versailles”.
And it’s certainly.
Something is best than the tent with that type of wind…
After leaving my palace I test my GPS and realise that the boat took me to a unique place than the ferry terminal. Fortunately it is solely 2km extra to stroll.
After a number of steps I realise that the wind shouldn’t be that dangerous for the primary time in every week (perhaps even 10 days).
It is only a breeze…
It’s the greatest feeling ever.
I really feel like I have been within the rinse cycle of a washer for 12 hours a day, for every week.
To be trustworthy I used to be beginning to have a wee breakdown and questioning myself so much about why I used to be nonetheless on path after I was having such a foul time.
Properly, I assume in the long run it was value it.
At this time is a straightforward day terrain-wise and it is completely lovely.
I am really actually having fun with myself for the primary time on this path.
And it will get sunny and completely wind-free within the afternoon.
I assume that a part of the explanation I staid is that even within the worst circumstances the outer Hebrides have one thing magical about them and a really sturdy “distant from the world” really feel that I solely skilled within the Tasmanian South West and on the Northwest Circuit of Stewart Island in New Zealand.
Properly, again to the crappy climate…
Although not practically as dangerous as what it has been if I’ve to take a look at the glass half full.
I do not know what surroundings I have been strolling by means of in the present day.
There’s been some seashore strolling.
I am hoping to spend the evening at a hostel however after I get there I see that it has been closed for years.
However, there’s an previous bike shed.
And a faucet.
It is all I would like for the evening.
Good timing, as quickly as I get in, it begins pouring down critically.
Afterward a bicycle owner who received caught within the rain has the identical thought and joins me.
No wind in the present day!
And it is very flat and straightforward.
Although it stinks all day lengthy, in all probability due to some seaweed.
I take the ferry to Barra, the final of the ten islands the path goes by means of.
On the pier there is a ready room/rest room that appears fantastic for the evening and a few German cyclists appear to be considering the identical factor.
They have been biking for a yr and it would not seem like they’re stopping anytime quickly.
Subsequent they’ll Spain, then take a ship to Florida, cycle the US East Coast, Canada, the US West coast and a few extra.
However somebody comes over telling us that they lock the place at evening, so we have now to maneuver and pitch the tent a bit additional.
Final day on the Hebridean Means.
It is solely 22km to the Southern terminus and on day, I assume you get lovely views.
However it’s fairly foggy so the views are restricted.
From the terminus I get a journey fairly simply to Castlebay, from the place my ferry leaves tomorrow at 7am.
The hostel on the town (like each hostel in Scotland for the time being) is full, so I go searching for a spot to pitch the tent later.
I discover a spot subsequent to a church that can just do fantastic.
I am not going to sugarcoat it, I’ve very combined emotions about this hike.
I have been climbing in crappy climate for a month and a half now and the final 2 weeks have been the worst by far.
I assume I used to be simply not mentally prepared for this sort of wind happening for thus lengthy.
Although I am following another hikers on Instagram who’re climbing different trails in Scotland for the time being, and it appears to be like prefer it’s the identical all over the place.
Everybody retains telling me that Could and June are at all times the most effective months however that this yr is the worst they’ve seen in a very long time.
I would think about that climbing this path in respectable circumstances would really be wonderful.
It is only a matter of luck.
My subsequent two trails in Scotland (the final ones), the Nice Glen Means and the Speyside Means, needs to be a bit much less uncovered, which is nice as a result of its would not seem like the climate will enhance a lot.
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