So this being a Sunday we were by default on our way to North Uist. There had been very few tourists on Skye. Here on North Uist things were even more empty and cold for late May. We pedaled away from the ferry terminal going clockwise along the A865 which is a string of a road laid from rock point to rock point. It is more rock than water on a map but only just. The chambered cairn of Barpa Langais was just up the hill to our left and we stashed the bikes and walked up to it. This gave a stunning panorama for just such a short walk. Sheer laziness meant that as usual I got my bike shoes and socks wet with perfectly good hiking shoes in the panniers.
We turned left and cycled down the island. This would be a moral destroying straight and open road in a head wind that would make you question your decision to come here when you could be in France. We took a right toward Benbecula airport and a campsite that was marked on our maps. We had been on the bike a long while today and wanted to set up camp and eat. The campsite was packed. How and why I have no idea as we had seen so few people. I hate crowded sites and their noise. We fled back along the road in the direction we had come and turned down to the beach for a wild camp. Not the most charming spot but at least quiet and free and we had filled our bottles at the campsite.
Next morning we decided to head back north to catch the ferry to Harris and rode along the west coast to get there. Now, this is the best part of the island with the golden sand and white thatched cottages we were after. Single track road again and another run in with a car sounding his horn and pushing us off the road. Ten seconds is all we needed to get to the pull in perhaps less. He then had to wait and as I caught up I banged down with my fist on the back of his car. ” Go back to England” was the last thing he shouted, which was nice. There was now blue sky and the sun was out, but my goodness was it cold. We stopped for food and put on hats and Rab smocks and tucked in to the finest Co-op snacks.
We had a long cold wait for the ferry as we had miss read the timetable. It is a very good job that we had no set plan for this trip at all. We have had bike tours in the past that required getting a ferry that only runs once ever two weeks or was the last of the season and had so much pressure to cover distances. We put on layers of clothing and lay down in the terminal building. Pushing on to the ferry under a blue sky was great. We were on our way to Harris.
We were going to take the very single track road up the East coast. In a car you would have your right foot hovering over the brake pedal on this road as you can almost touch both sides of it with your arms. On a bike it is heaven indeed even with the blind corners. Up and down it goes but without being too steep to lose momentum. A flock of sheep was being moved along the road by the 47th best sheep dog on the island. He was having fun but it was going to take a while so we turned right down a dead-end road towards the sea. I have no idea where this is on the map at all but it is stunning. There is an abandoned croft which always means that there must be a water source so we pushed our bikes up off the road to find a camping spot.
This is the best sight of the year for camping and we were so excited by what we found. We pitched on the flattest and dryest bit we could find and got the Kelly Kettle started. These are the campsites that make every last penny we have spent on equipment worth it. This is it, number one site of the year and we knew it at the time. How lucky are we. A perfect site to see otters, but my usual luck applied and none turned up.
We had not done many miles and would do even less the next day as we came across a campsite that we loved and we were promised otters and hand-made bread. Licisto campsite is featured in the book cool camping and is quite perfect. Pitches are spaced wide apart on what were the lazy beds for the croft. The kitchen and shower rooms are the old black house and barns. It is spartan, inviting, quiet and well worth stopping for even if you have only done 9 miles.