Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

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Philip Whiteman
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Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by Philip Whiteman » 01 Jul 2014 16:15

I am speculatively considering a plan for a Beacon members light-weight tour of the Eileen Siar and North West Coast of the Highlands on 2015. I have been meaning to organise this for years but have now decided get of my backside after a recent scout of the route.

Would be provisionally interested? I am will limit the group to between 5-8 members. If there is sufficient interest, I will work out costings, route stage details and possible dates.

The Outline Route (provisional)

80-110 miles per-day.And here is an outline map (ignore the overall distances which include ferry components) http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/459897754 (distances on file include ferry crossings)

Ferry to the Western Isles from Oban (a day long sailing):
- South and North Uist;

Ferry across the Harris Straights
- Harris using the legendary and unbelievably tough Golden Road, followed by the rocky and wild mountain pass over 'The Clisham' and into Lewis
- Visit to Callinish Stones and thence Stornoway

Ferry back across The Minches to Ullapool
- Either a rest day or non-pack tour upto the wilds of Sutherland
- The Destitution Road leading to the drama of Torridon;
- Optional passage via Applescross and Bealach na ba. Before heading off to Skye and eventually Mallaig;

Ferry to Mallaig
- Down to Ardnanmurchan
Ferry to Mull, a quick passage down the island before taking the last ferry crossing to Oban.

Overall, the route does purposefully follow stupidly hilly routes except the optional Bealach na ba, but the route is located in a hilly part of the country. So a good degree of fitness is required. The weather can be very demanding if unlucky. Overall, road conditions are good and most roads are very quiet with the exception of the section over the Skye Bridge and 10 miles beyond.

Accommodation

YHAs, B&Bs, hotels.

What I will arrange

Accommodation
Potential feedstops
Ferries

What you will need to arrange

Transport to Oban (drive, plane/drive or train)
Fares for ferries and cost of your own food. Food is not provided.

Bike stuff

You will need a bike with lugs to hold a rack and at least a single pannier. You need to be able to bring personal essentials, a change of clothing and a share of spare emergency parts.

Cake, Hot Smoked Salmon & Good Coffee

Benbecula, Cladesh Community Centre, Berneray Post Office, Skoon Art Gallery, Callinish Stones, Drumbeg, Poolewe Gardens, Torridon Post Office, Lochcarron, Hector's Bothy, Glenborrowdale, Kilchoan Community Centre, Salen (Mull)
Last edited by Philip Whiteman on 29 Apr 2015 18:05, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Philip Whiteman » 08 Jul 2014 14:42

I have had a handful of enquiries from interested parties. Please let me know if you are tentatively interested too.

Here are some questions that I can share:

When exactly?

I have two thoughts but I am will to be directed by fellow members:

1. Second half of August, after the end of the Scottish School Holidays
2. June, when the weather is generally drier. However, this the time I prefer to be away for our family holiday.

Is it going to be another Whiteman hilly ride?

No, but this is Scotland so you can expect climbing wherever you go. I only have one road hidden up my sleeve.

Nutters can opt to go via the Bealach Na Ba. As for me, I will be taking the shorter route.

What sort of accommodation?

I propose a mix of good bunkhouses, b&bs and hotels. Prices will vary but it is not proposed to target expensive venues. I may have to spread riders across several local B&Bs where required. Here are some ideas:

-Oban YHA (£14ppn)
-Lochboisdale Hotel or B&Bs (£35-45ppn)
-Tarbert Hotel (£40ppn) or Drinishader Bunkhouse http://tinyurl.com/nfg7ue9
-Ullapool YHA or nearby cheap hotel
-Lochcarron, Rockvilla Guest House (£35ppn)
-Acharacle B&Bs. tbc
-Oban YHA

All are subject to confirmation.

Transport fares

You will be responsible for arranging your own transit to Oban. I guess that people may wish to team up. There are various options available.

Ferry prices around Scotland are very cheap and bicycles go for free. Eg. £15 from Oban to Lochboisdale, a six hour sailing.

Here is a taster of one famous section

http://www.virtualheb.co.uk/golden-road ... isles.html

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laurence_cooley
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Post by laurence_cooley » 08 Jul 2014 15:24

Sounds great. I'd be interested if it's in August.

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Neil Compton
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Post by Neil Compton » 08 Jul 2014 17:12

tentatively interested at this stage.

Philmondo
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Post by Philmondo » 08 Jul 2014 20:10

I'd be interested, with a preference for August.
I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.

Alistair Hey
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Post by Alistair Hey » 09 Jul 2014 07:11

provided 'im in the UK in 2015 im interested

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Kermit
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Post by Kermit » 09 Jul 2014 17:32

Yep, I'm interested too. Not too fussed when but I'd like to try and avoid the dreaded midges

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Post by Philip Whiteman » 09 Jul 2014 19:58

Kermit wrote:Yep, I'm interested too. Not too fussed when but I'd like to try and avoid the dreaded midges
Providing you are cycling faster than 5mph, midges are not a problem. The thing to worry about is 'The Clegg', commonly known as the Horsefly in Sassanach.

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Post by StuartWhite » 13 Jul 2014 22:18

This look brilliant.
I had intended on doing something very similar with a friend of mine next year so depending on whether I go with him or not, I would like to either be there for the duration or if it is OK with everybody involved perhaps tag along for a couple of days during the tour.
Cheers,

Stu

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Post by Philip Whiteman » 14 Jul 2014 10:10

Thanks for your responses. Given the numbers expressed on this message board and on our Facebook Group, it looks as though this ride will be viable.

Clearly, 2015 is a long time off and I will not be pinning down current interested parties on their expressions of interest. Further expressions of interest are still welcomed.

So here is the plan:

- the tour will take place in the latter half of August 2015;
- I will start soliciting firm commitments towards the New Year.

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Post by Philip Whiteman » 29 Nov 2014 12:43

I hope to produce a full prospectus for the trip in the New Year.

I will be seeking commitments by the end of January, after which I will start booking venues in March.

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by PeakPete » 13 Aug 2020 11:45

Hi Phil, I'm planning a trip to the Outer Hebrides and Highlands and noticed that you arranged a Beacon trip to the same sort of areas back in 2015. Just wondered if you had any unmissable road rides that you would recommend? My brief plan is to ride across the Outer Hebrides (with some time for paddle boarding), then head to the Torridon area, then onto Skye before heading home. It's mostly a road biking trip but I'm also thinking of taking my mtb for trails in Torridon and Skye. Any thoughts appreciated!

Pete

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by Simon Woodward » 13 Aug 2020 19:06

Pete, the Outer Hebrides are wonderful. Can I suggest going up the East coast of Harris from Rodel rather than using the Hebridean Way up the west coast.

A few years ago I cycled Mull, Ardnamurchan, Skye, Torridons, Ullapool, Stornoway and then down the Outer Hebrides and back to Oban.

It was fantastic so last year I rode from Barra up the Outer Hebrides and then up to Cape Wrath. I've toured all over Britain and Harris is my favourite cycling location.
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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by Philip Whiteman » 13 Aug 2020 19:42

Western Isles

I concur with Simon. On Harris, the 'Golden Road' from Rodel following the east coast to Tarbert is a superb cycling road with great character. I would place it in my all-time favourite cycling roads in the UK. Harris also offers some interesting detours to places to Huishnish or Rhenigidale, though be warned, nothing is flat on Harris. The wild mountain pass through North Harris is a beast but spectacular.

On North Uist, I would recommend taking the Atlantic side of the island to reach the ferry at Berneray.

Close your eyes as you ride through Benbecula unless you find airports interesting.

On Lewis the road leading up to the Ness is not hugely interesting but has to be done if you are riding end-to-end. Otherwise, on Lewis there are some great little detours to place like Uig or Great Bernera or Callinish Stones.

Be aware of Sundays. The Wee Frees north of North Uist are very strict Sabbatarians and nearly everywhere will be closed. One or two cafes and hotels will be open but you will need to do your research. Otherwise it will be along day without food. On other days, there are plenty of tourist outlets open.

Don't plan your route north to south unless are resistance training using headwinds. It don't half blow in the Hebrides.

Skye

A dump unless you are a mountaineer exploring the Cuillin or Trotternish Ridge. Roads are excessively busy during the holiday season and the main road to Portree is downright lethal. Even the loop around Trotternish is not great for traffic. If travelling between Uig and the south, I would strongly recommend the longer B road option down the western side through Dunvegan to Sligachan to avoid some of the A87. Armadale and Glenelg ferry roads are okay.

Torridon

An utter gem. People bang on about the Bealach na ba pass but to be honest its reputation is worse than reality. Yes it is a long hard and at times a steep climb but there are far worse. This road can be troublesome with traffic in high season. The road into Applecross from the north is harder than the Bealach na ba on account of the repeated ascents and descents. To be honest I prefer the main A road from Torridon to Strathcarron simply to view the eastern faces of the Applecross mountains - plus it is quieter and shorter than Applecross.

I have always enjoyed the road through Glen Torridon from Kinlochewe and down to Strathcarron. I have never cycled from Ullerpool to Kinlochewe but have driven it many times - it is not too busy and is both spectacular and barren. Torridon is worth visiting just to view the Torridonian mountains such as Beinn Eighe or Liathach.

The Destitution Road (A832) is exposed to the elements especially between Braemore Junction and Gairloch with few places to stop. In high winds, this route would be challenging. In good weather, it would be a superb road to ride if heading southwards towards Torridon. Loch Marie is a gem.

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by PeakPete » 15 Aug 2020 12:13

Simon, Phil,

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. I'll be travelling and staying in my camper van so will have the flexibility to explore quite a few areas. Harris sounds great, will ride up the East coast and check out the areas you mentioned. Where is the mountain pass you mentioned in North Harris Phil? Is it the road near Maraig? I'd read great things about the Trotternish area of Skye, although appreciate traffic can be a killer, even in the most spectacular locations (I'm thinking of burning clutches on Hardknott!). Looking forward to Torridon, I've wanted to go for years..

Thanks again gents.

Pete

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by Philip Whiteman » 15 Aug 2020 21:53

The mountain pass is the A road between Airdhasaig with a very steep ascent from the junction with the Huishnish Road. After the plateau it drops down steeply towards Loch Seaforth. If you are lucky, you may see sea eagles as there are a number living in and around the mountains of North Harris.

https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@57.92746 ... 312!8i6656

I tend to go that way when popping over Stornoway from Harris or for to tea shop visit at Callanish Stones.

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by PeakPete » 14 Oct 2020 10:53

Hi Simon/Phil,

Just back from my trip up north, thanks again for the route advice. I rode a 'lollipop' route from South Uist (killer headwind on the return), before moving onto Harris which was spectacular. The road from Rodel to Tarbert (including the Golden Road) was breathtaking, as was the road out to Hushinish (I rode back via the West/South coast which also had challenging headwinds!). Over the course of the trip I saw eagles, dolphins, porpoises, seals and otters; it's an incredible place to visit. Didn't get chance to road ride in the Highlands but did have a day mountain biking in Torridon, another stunning spot. There are plenty of other places I'd love to explore; can't wait to go back.

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by Philip Whiteman » 14 Oct 2020 14:45

PeakPete wrote:
14 Oct 2020 10:53
Hi Simon/Phil,

Just back from my trip up north, thanks again for the route advice. I rode a 'lollipop' route from South Uist (killer headwind on the return), before moving onto Harris which was spectacular. The road from Rodel to Tarbert (including the Golden Road) was breathtaking, as was the road out to Hushinish (I rode back via the West/South coast which also had challenging headwinds!). Over the course of the trip I saw eagles, dolphins, porpoises, seals and otters; it's an incredible place to visit. Didn't get chance to road ride in the Highlands but did have a day mountain biking in Torridon, another stunning spot. There are plenty of other places I'd love to explore; can't wait to go back.
Superb! I often stay along the Golden Road. It is a remarkably slow road to cycle along but worth every inch.

The Western Isles have got to be amongst the best cycling places in the whole of the UK

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Re: Beacon Tour of The Hebrides and Highlands 2015?

Post by PeakPete » 21 Oct 2020 11:47

I stayed at a fantastic campsite in Lickisto, they have camping pitches, bell tents, yurts and a bothy. Top place and highly recommended!

I'll be going back :)

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