Travellers' Tales: Island hopping in Scotland
When you need to slow your world down, what better way than a tour of the Hebrides? Starting on Arran, my spirits soared as we cycled over The String Road from Brodick to Pirnmill. A curlew called.
Gigha was next, wild camping at the southernmost point with a stunning sunset behind the Paps of Jura. The next morning was wet but by the time we’d cycled to Kennacraig for the ferry to Islay the sun had lit up the landscape. The next day we cycled out to the Oa peninsula and watched a golden eagle landing on a nearby crag. We camped on a windy knoll by Port Mòr on Colonsay. Seals sang, a hen harrier flew over, and the moon cast its beam over the sea.
The tides were right to wade across to Oransay where we hoped to find corncrakes. But, as with our next island, Coll, we did not get to see or hear them. Neighbouring Tiree was full of surfers in this year of the staycation.
On the ferry to Barra we spotted dolphins, porpoise, a minke whale, and rafts of seabirds. I can’t imagine experiencing such superb weather in the islands again. It was perfect for a boat trip to the uninhabited island of Mingulay, which is similar to St Kilda.
Cycling north through the Outer Isles, the islands were ablaze with heather in bloom. Eriskay, bathed in sunshine, looked more Greek than Hebridean. We battled a headwind through South Uist and Benbecula, then experienced cloudless skies and more sparkling seas on North Uist, Harris, and Lewis. Finally, we sailed from Stornoway to Ullapool, not wanting to leave.