Outer Hebrides tour

Geoff Crowther

"... travel far, not fast", Ted Simon
Hi all
Had this at the back of my mind for a while and it's pencilled in for this coming Sept.
Anyone any ideas about how to get to Ullapool with a bike (no railway as far as I know)?
I'd like to cross from there to Stornaway then cycle down to Barra, crossing back to Oban.
I'm struggling a bit with this as there don't seem to be any national car hire depots in either town to enable one-way rental.
In case it's not obvious, I'm looking to do this without a car.
Cheers
Geoff
 
Nope, no railway at Ullapool. You'd probably need to look at car hire in a bigger place (like Inverness :biggrin:). I can't recall any car hire places on the way through once you hit the sticks - although they could be hidden away in back streets. Get Googling is probably the answer.
I'd be surprised if there wasn't something in Oban, but doubt it would be a national.
 

Slioch

Guru
Location
York
The nearest station will be somewhere like Garve on the Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line, and then there's a 35 mile ride along the A835 to Ullapool. I've not ridden that road for many years, but there was a thread on here somewhere a couple of weeks back asking what that road was like to cycle in the opposite direction.
I've done the Stornaway to Barra island hopping thing myself a couple of times, and it is just mind blowing. Don't rush it, and enjoy.
 

lpretro1

Guest
Yes Garve is nearest station and the ride along the main road to Ullapool is fine - fantastic views and a chance to stop off to see the falls at Corrieshalloch Gorge :smile:
The islands are fantastic especially Harris and Barra. If you have time it is great to go via Butt of Lewis and the west coast of Lewis - beaches to die for there.
Tarbert is a great place to stay on North Harris and the Golden Road, on the east coast of Harris is worth a cycle too.
Train back from Oban
 

snorri

Legendary Member
Choosing the rail option takes you up a fair height to Garve, then it is fairly level to Braemore Junction with a few ups and downs between Braemore and Ullapool.
There is no easy answer regarding taking the east or west coast routes down through South Harris, both are attractive in their own way.
 

PaulSB

Legendary Member
I did this as part of a longer tour in 2010. Can I urge you to consider starting on Barra. IMV this is by far the preferable direction of travel. The main reasons for this would be:

The sunset over Barra, presuming it's clear, is stunning - the sun drops literally behind the island as the ferry approaches
The prevailing wind should be with you
The more southerly islands are easier cycling which helps to break one in for the climbs on Harris and Lewis, though there are many worse climbs in the UK

The advantage with car hire would be you could do a one-way rental to Oban and then cycle to Inverness to get the train home. The ride to Inverness is fine, it's around 70 miles. There are some very good deals to be found on the sleeper - I paid around £45 to get back to Preston.

Whichever way you chose to go on Barra the much nicer ride is the west coast road and it avoids a miserable climb. Be sure to visit the airport on Barra and hope the tide is out!

Should you chose to visit Barra first be sure to book your accomodation for the first night in advance as the ferry docks around 10.30pm. Also eat on the ferry as you'll struggle to find anywhere on Barra late evening. Whenever you go visit the little gift and sandwich shop to the left of the jetty as you look at the sea - salmon sandwiches to die for!!!!!!!
 

Spinney

Bimbleur extraordinaire
Location
Under the Edge
Hi all
Had this at the back of my mind for a while and it's pencilled in for this coming Sept.
Anyone any ideas about how to get to Ullapool with a bike (no railway as far as I know)?
I'd like to cross from there to Stornaway then cycle down to Barra, crossing back to Oban.
I'm struggling a bit with this as there don't seem to be any national car hire depots in either town to enable one-way rental.
In case it's not obvious, I'm looking to do this without a car.
Cheers
Geoff
Did this many years ago, when 50 miles was a very, very long day.
We drove to Oban and left the car (but you could go by train), ferry to Lochboisdale, all the way up to Stornoway, bus back to Tarbert (on the grounds that there was only one road and we had just cycled it the other way!) then cycled down to Castle Bay and got the ferry back to Oban.
Depends how long you've got - the above made the logisitics easier, and it was good to be able to take both roads around the edges of Harris (both beautiful in different ways) - and also round North Uist (although the weather wasn't nice either day so we didn't really appreciate that).

See here if my travels are likely to be any help with your planning:
https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/outer-hebrides.155949/
 
OP
Geoff Crowther

Geoff Crowther

"... travel far, not fast", Ted Simon
I did this as part of a longer tour in 2010. Can I urge you to consider starting on Barra. IMV this is by far the preferable direction of travel. The main reasons for this would be:

The sunset over Barra, presuming it's clear, is stunning - the sun drops literally behind the island as the ferry approaches
The prevailing wind should be with you
The more southerly islands are easier cycling which helps to break one in for the climbs on Harris and Lewis, though there are many worse climbs in the UK

The advantage with car hire would be you could do a one-way rental to Oban and then cycle to Inverness to get the train home. The ride to Inverness is fine, it's around 70 miles. There are some very good deals to be found on the sleeper - I paid around £45 to get back to Preston.

Whichever way you chose to go on Barra the much nicer ride is the west coast road and it avoids a miserable climb. Be sure to visit the airport on Barra and hope the tide is out!

Should you chose to visit Barra first be sure to book your accomodation for the first night in advance as the ferry docks around 10.30pm. Also eat on the ferry as you'll struggle to find anywhere on Barra late evening. Whenever you go visit the little gift and sandwich shop to the left of the jetty as you look at the sea - salmon sandwiches to die for!!!!!!!
Thanks a lot for all that. Makes for interesting reading. Doubt I'd get one-way hire to Oban though cos I can't find any national companies there. I'll be camping so accommodation's not an issue. Hoping to camp wild wherever possible.
Thanks again.
Geoff
 
OP
Geoff Crowther

Geoff Crowther

"... travel far, not fast", Ted Simon
Did this many years ago, when 50 miles was a very, very long day.
We drove to Oban and left the car (but you could go by train), ferry to Lochboisdale, all the way up to Stornoway, bus back to Tarbert (on the grounds that there was only one road and we had just cycled it the other way!) then cycled down to Castle Bay and got the ferry back to Oban.
Depends how long you've got - the above made the logisitics easier, and it was good to be able to take both roads around the edges of Harris (both beautiful in different ways) - and also round North Uist (although the weather wasn't nice either day so we didn't really appreciate that).

See here if my travels are likely to be any help with your planning:
https://www.cyclechat.net/threads/outer-hebrides.155949/
Cheers Spinney. I'll bear those ideas in mind. Did read your thread a while back, after we'd done Harris & Lewis in our camper.
Thanks for the tips.
Geoff
 
Iirc sixt are the only 'national' car hire people in Oban.

We did a one way car hire to Inverness in 2013 using europcar. For more than one person it ended up working out to be cheaper and easier than the trains. We did a 24 hr van hire for less than £100 excluding fuel for rental and needed less than a single tank to fill up.
 
OP
Geoff Crowther

Geoff Crowther

"... travel far, not fast", Ted Simon
Iirc sixt are the only 'national' car hire people in Oban.

We did a one way car hire to Inverness in 2013 using europcar. For more than one person it ended up working out to be cheaper and easier than the trains. We did a 24 hr van hire for less than £100 excluding fuel for rental and needed less than a single tank to fill up.
Now that's what I wanted to hear Emma, since there will be two of us.
I'll take a look.
Thanks.
 
Now that's what I wanted to hear Emma, since there will be two of us.
I'll take a look.
Thanks.
Sorry I lied, we hired their smallest van... One way to Inverness. Drop off point is roughly ½-1 mile from the railway station at a hotel think it was the thistle hotel. Did a mid day to mid day hire, got to Aviemore and camped there overnight. Carried on the following morning to Inverness.

IMG_6165_1024.jpg
 
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