Cycling over Harris from Tarbert to Callanish was just wonderful, the weather was fine, the road was quiet and with a cross-tail wind most of the way cycling was not too difficult. Although the mountains of Harris were truly spectacular they, without doubt, presented the biggest physical challenge. Shortly after leaving Tarbert and passing through a few villages a beautiful bay called Ceann an Ora stretches out in an expanse of space on the left hand side. I saw a road on the other side of the bay which I thought might be the one I had to take. It meandered along the side of the hill and gradually gained height into the mountains. However this turned out not to be the route although before long I was wishing it had been.
The road then took me east onto what turned out to be the most difficult part of the whole journey. The mountain of Tarsaval is the highest part of the whole journey and the road wound steeply up the side. It was the steepest or biggest mountain pass I have cycled so far. It was difficult and while I was plodding my way up, I was wondering if I really wanted to make a habit of this kind of cycling. I have lots of routes in Scotland I would like to do in the future and it was as if this was giving me a little taste of what it would be like doing some serious mountains in the Highlands.
Being on top of the mountains there made up for the climb several times over. The view was spectacular and the feeling was lovely. I felt like I was getting near and was in sight of completing my challenge and that felt good. I just had to finish today and that would give me 40 miles to complete the following morning to reach Ness. I enjoyed cycling the rest of that road and was having so much fun that I missed the sign to say that I was on Lewis, the last island on my journey. It was after I had stopped and met Eileen that she told me I had reached Lewis. I just had 7 miles left to do to the west of the island to Callanish where we would stop for the night.
This 7 miles turned out to be the most difficult part of the whole trip. The road went west over open moorland directly into a very strong wind and, with little shelter I was up against it all the way. Unfortunately I had to stop and eat only a couple of miles from my destination because I had the feeling of running on empty. This is one lesson I have learned the hard way which is to know when you are running low and to stop and refuel before you suffer the ‘ knock’ as we call it in cycling terms.
That evening we stayed in the village of Callanish and visited the famous stone circle. What made it more special was that it was the day of the full moon. We had our evening meal at the stones and took so many photographs. I found it just amazing to think that these stones have been there a minimum of 4000, but possibly as much as 6000 years, and still the purpose of them is unknown. It is a very special experience going there and a must for anybody visiting Lewis and the Outer Hebrides.