Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Tues 18th: Harris to Lewis

Today was going to be the hardest day with the biggest planned climbs of the holiday (not counting potential diversions!) over the Harris Hills - so there was some attempt to be up and out promptly, although we were both complaining of aching muscles.

That's the sea in the far distance!
From Tarbert we were into the climb pretty much straight away- up from the coast along a 1 in 10 hill and the first use of granny gear! After the initial steep climb it levelled out a bit, so I had a brief break to catch my breath before starting the rest of the more gradual climb.

As you go up the landscape really changes, from the coastal inlets and sweeping bays to the more rugged hills that feel a lot more like the Scottish highlands that we're so familiar with. After spinning up for a while (maybe an hour?) we made it to the top of the pass and were rewarded with a cracking view of the upland freshwater loch, the surrounding hills and down to the sea.

At the top!
Whilst hanging around taking pictures we saw another bike tourer approaching from the other side of the pass- he was on a three week tour and had significantly more stuff than us. Before getting too cold we continued on with a gradual downhill. I absolutely loved this stage- I'd just done my first ever 'big' climb on a laden bike and didn't kill me, the sun was shining, there were blue bits in the sky, and there was some amazing Scottish highland scenery.
Loch Seaforth - looking back at the Harris hills

Before too long we were back to climbing to get over the last of the Harris hills, and then were rewarded with the sight of Loch Seaforth below us, and a band of rain coming towards us! We figured it would only be a short shower so didn't break out the waterproof trousers, but on the fast sweeping descent we hit the wall of water, more like hailstones really - and were soaked in 30s.  Its fun when you're breaking on a fast descent with a laden bike and your hands have gone numb!!

We need a stop then, hungry, knackered and soaked so we headed for the Loch Erisort Inn, a few miles off the main road.  We got there a bit early but fortunately the owner saw us arrive and let us in, cranked up the fire and sorted us out with lots of tea! Not to mention a demanding elderly collie with an eye for the tennis ball...

We tried to warm up but after the soaking it was a bit of a struggle so we decided to crack on.  After the climb over the Harris hills we thought it would be plain sailing for the rest of the day, but there were quite a few short sharp climbs.  Eventually we reached Achadh Mor for the final descent down to Callanish - but the wind picked up and it was a real struggle.  It was so frustrating - you could see the coast in the distance, the moorland was fairly flat with just gentle rises, but the wind was relentless.

Finally we reached our destination, and dived into the Visitor Centre for the Callanish Stone Circles to top up on tea and cakes.  The Stone Circle itself is amazing - there are so many stones still there and they're huge!  This is the largest of three circles all within sight of each other.

No comments:

Post a comment