I started cycle touring on a complete whim. I've always had a lust for the outdoors and have backpacked many times over the years, mainly on the beautiful remote desolate island of Jura, one of the last areas of unspoilt wilderness in the UK. I enjoy the solitude, the challenge, the dramatic scenery and wildlife together with the knowledge that you're a boat ride away from civilisation.
Gazing at the map in Calmac's 'Explore' brochure on the Claonaig to Lochranza ferry rekindled my desire to visit the Outer Hebrides. My parents had taken the boat to Barra in the 1950s during their courting days and forever regaled us with tales of mountainous seas where everyone on board including the crew were sea sick apart from them. Then when queuing for the boat at Brodick, I watched as a procession of pannier clad bicycles disembarked for journeys around Arran.
So here were the seeds of an idea to explore the Hebridean Islands on a touring bike. I'm not getting any younger and the rucksack no lighter so a bike seemed the best way to carry the load whilst sparing my vertebra.
These pages explain how I started, bought & equipped a touring bike and prepared for a new experience. There are illustrated accounts of my two bike rides to the Outer Hebrides, a circular tour around Mull & Ardnamurchan, two trips to the Shetland Islands and last year's epic journey from Land's End to John O'Groats.
This year I did C2C and went back to Shetland where I finally managed to sail to Foula!
In the beginning though, I needed a bike.
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