Woke up to a beautiful sunny day - much better than yesterday. Sadly, the wind was back! The ride back along the B8011 was just as enjoyable as the ride in yesterday - staggering scenery. I was rather hoping that I'd have a tail wind for part of it (having battled in horrendous head winds yesterday), but it seems that the wind was not on my side and decided to give me a fight back along the road.
I reached the main road after about 18 miles and headed towards the south of Lewis. This really was all very remote - very little traffic and truly remote. I stopped for lunch and enjoyed one of the best pies I have ever eaten - Stag Bakeries Steak Pie - delicious!
The scenery was magnificent and very desolate. There were not many houses or villages.
At Balallen, there was a great memorial to the Deer Park Raiders - a very interesting tale indeed.
Somewhere on this road (and I still don't really understand where the border is), I reached Harris! So, goodbye Lewis, you've been great!
Just after Scaladale, I stopped to admire the view and take in the view of An Cliseam (the tallest peak on the Outer Hebrides at 799 metres). Setting off, things got a bit more vertical and the climb out of there was long and tough. However, after reaching the top and descending slightly, I could see my next challenge! The road to Rhenigidale looked terrifyingly steep! However, first I admired the views of Loch Shiphoirt - truly awesome. Turning off the main road, I descended a very scary bit of single track - all good fun! But, then the fun stopped - the climb up over to Rhenigidale was brutal. Tiny little road and ever so steep at points. This really was tough after a long day. Finally I got to the top and then another descent into the village.
Rhenigidale is remote to say the least. It's about 5 miles to the nearest village and access by road only became possible in 1987. Prior to this, it was only accessible by sea or walking about 6 miles cross-country. It's a tiny little village - less than 10 properties. One of these is the Gatliff trust hostel and it's a really great getaway location. Very basic hostel, but ideal. The camping space is very limited indeed - there's really only room for 1 small tent - so luckily, it was not occupied and I was able to pitch my tent. I wandered about the hills for a while before returning to the hostel. I decided to have a look over the bike and found I'd broken a spoke on my rear wheel - I thought I had heard something when I'd stopped at Scaladale - it sounded like I'd got a stone under the tyre and it had pinged out from underneath. I've never broken a spoke in my life and here I was in the most remote part of the island without a spare. I was rather worried about it all as I thought more spokes might pop now this one had gone. Luckily my bike has disc brakes so the slight kink in the trueness of the wheel would not affect braking. I loosened off the two adjacent spokes just a touch to even out the kink a little. Oh well.
Things then got hellishly worse. Rhenigidale appears to be the midge capital of the islands. I have never seen anything like it. My dinner had more midges in it than it had risotto! I could hardly leave the tent and, at times, they sounded like rain hitting the flysheet of the tent so hard!
I appear to be very tasty to the average midge and get bitten a lot - luckily, they do not itch me much once I have been bitten, just give me the little round red spots.
I really was a prisoner in my own tent and it was a pretty miserable night - compounded with slugs crawling up the inner of the tent - and slugs really are my least favourite thing. Overall the camping at Rhenigidale is pretty poor. It is a tiny spot and the midges and slugs are too much. I wish I had stayed in the hostel that night.
I was even more amazed when a group of german campers turned up and pitched their two little tents on what must seriously be a 40 degree slope! How they slept I will never know, but I guess the hostel was full - certainly seemed to be a lot of people there.
I went to sleep feeling a little dissapointed with it all - broken spoke, crappy camping, midges etc. But, I hoped tomorrow would be better!
Read about day 6 here!