My plan of camping higher up certainly worked with keeping the midges away, but it was a very windy night and I did not sleep that well. I was woken early with a strong sunrise, but managed to finally get to sleep again and actually slept until about 9 - which is quite late for me on this trip.
I got things packed up and set off into what were already tough headwinds and was making good progress until I hit a traffic jam of sheep being moved into the sheilings to be sheared. Two guys on quads and a dog moved them down the road. I didn't mind one bit as it's always good to see a good sheep dog working.
Having looped North Uist yesterday, I wanted to try and take a different route down to Clachan (where I could then take the road south and onwards), so I decided to take an unmarked road that seems to be known as The Committee Road. It did actually have a signpost indicating it was the C83 road - I never knew we had C roads! It was a great little road through moorland that served no real purpose as there was no community up there. Getting back onto the main road towards Clachan and the head winds were the strongest I had experienced so far. Very hard work indeed.
Made it to Clachan and headed onwards. At Caranish, there is Trinity Temple - another abandoned church and also the site of a large battle in 1601 - Feith Na Fala - The Ditch Of Blood. By this point it was also raining along with the strong winds - but I looked around the church before heading on.
This next leg took me over the corner of the island of Grimsay - all connected via causeways making it feel like you were flying over the sea and sands. A few minutes later and I was on another island, Benbecula, and it was not all that pretty. The area around the airport is dominated by military buildings. Benbecula is the UK's missile testing area. The MOD doesn't seem to do building in-keeping with the surroundings. It is quite densely populated around this area as well. Popped into a very large, but empty feeling Nisa supermarket and stock up with food - especially it being Sunday tomorrow.
The headwinds were really really hurting now - today felt so tough and my legs were suffering.
I reached Nunton Steadings where there is a nice tea room - so felt a little better - but it was only temporary!
Passed a large, washed up cylinder - I did not take a photo as it is now covered in graffiti and a real blot on the landscape - needs to be moved. But here's a photo of it when it originally washed u.
I past the campsite at Linacleit and was very tempted to stop as I was shattered - but I wanted to push onto Howmore as they was a bike repair shop there and I wanted to see if I could pick up a new spoke. But the remaining miles were very very tough. I did not stop to walk up to the huge statue at Our Lady Of The Isles - I was so shattered.
There is military hardware dotted all over this area to track the missiles etc. - bit of an eyesore. Sadly there was no activity scheduled this week - would have been great to see a missile launch!
Finally, I reached the hostel at Howmore - again, it was very good with great facilities and good camping. The hostel warden is the wife of the bike repair man and once I had pitched my tent, I nipped up to see if he was there (sadly, I had seen his van going the other way earlier!). He wasn't there, but I was to pop back later and see if he could fix me up.
Howmore is an interesting place with plenty of chapels - there appear to be at least 5 on this site, possibly dating back to the 6th century. I had a wander around the chapels and then went back up to see the man at Am Rothan Cycles - he was a very nice guy, but sadly he did not have any spokes short enough (because the bike has an Alfine hub gear and quite deep rims). But he thought if I had managed the past few days okay without it losing much true, then I'd probably be fine. It's a shame he couldn't rescue me - but I have read several accounts of him helping people out and really going above and beyond the call of duty with repairs.
I rode back to the hostel and cooked up some dinner before wandering down to the beach (about 10 minutes walk from the hostel). Lovely sunset and skies and very enjoyable.
I got back to the tent and realised how much I was enjoying this whole experience. I was actually not looking forward to spending my next two nights in a hotel. I had decided to go with a hotel many weeks ago when I was planning the trip - Barra has no official campsites. But now I had much more experience with camping here, I would have been happy to wildcamp and there were several good sites I had heard about. I had thought originally, that going into a hotel would feel like a real treat after many nights under canvas, but now it felt like my freedom was going to be taken away. I did not feel I could really cancel the room, so I guess I will have to see what it's like with a roof over my head! And things like TV and other strange things!
Read aboutday 10 here!