Outer Hebrides trip Day 11 - Loop around Barra and Vatersay - 35.31 miles

Got up reasonably early, and enjoyed a shower in a proper bathroom and then someone making me breakfast.  I was staying at the Castlebay Hotel and I can recommend it - it was very reasonably priced at £59/night (though a bit more than the £5/night I had been paying most nights on campsites!). I rode anti-clockwise around the island - so the first 7 or so miles were the ones I had ridden on yesterday - still all very attractive.  I headed north up the peninsula with the airport on.  I saw the airport as I carried on - I knew what time planes were due in, so I went on further up the peninsula.

Cille Bharra church

I headed towards St. Barr's Church (Cille Bharra) - it's a very nice church with some very unusual offerings in there - including a bottle of Drambuie!  There were shells and other natural offerings.

I turned back towards the airport to make sure I didn't miss the plane landing.  Barra airport is world famous as it has a runway that is cleaned twice a day by the sea.  Putting it simply, the runway is the beach and landings can only take place at low tide.  There were loads of people there to watch it - and with a nice warming cup of tea from the cafe in the terminal I awaited the plane.  It's a pretty small plane and flies from Glasgow via Benbecula.  Birds must be a real pain for the airport!  In came the plane and landed on the beach.  It was quite a site as it landed kicking up loads of spray - must be interesting from inside the plane!

The plane delivers the newspaper for the island and these were unloaded before the passenger's luggage! It had been funny being in the islands and on the odd days when I bought a paper, you wouldn't be able to get it until mid-afternoon in certain parts.  So different from life in London.

The only airport in the country where landings are restricted by the tides

I did not wait to see the plane take off - but that must be pretty spectacular again.

I carried on around the west coast of the island - very scenic with some great beaches.

Just before I reached Castlebay again, I turned off towards Vatersay - some steep climbing takes you onto an amazingly beautiful island with the best beaches and beautiful machair.  The beaches were beautiful and you were able to camp on them - there was an honesty box by the (abandoned) cafe.

The cows on Vatersay are often seen lying on the beach - but not today!

The beaches are gorgeous,  but hold some sad tales - one of which has a memorial.  In 1853, a ship carrying emigrants to New York hit troubles and broke up.  350 people were killed and they are buried in the dunes behind the beach.  Very sad.

Beach on Vatersay
The machair in full bloom

I left Vatersay heading back to Castlebay - I stopped by a memorial to commemorate the death of 3 crew members when their Catalina plane crashed there in 1944.

Wreckage of a Catalina crash 12th May 1944

I reached Castlebay and stopped for a coffee before jumping on the little boat to visit the castle in the bay - Kisimul.  It was not all that interesting - but I am not particularly interested in this kind of thing - give me prehistoric stuff any day!

I went to cafe Kisimul for dinner and it's a busy little place.  For some reason the owner closes it at 8:30 though!  It was packed in there, but the German chap (who I'd now learnt was called Bernt) was there - so I joined him.  The yellow VW bus family were there too - I had now seen them many times and they'd followed me from Ullapool all the way here!

I had a delicious monkfish and cod masala and chatted with Bernt and a swedish couple who were walking on the island.

Cafe Kisimul - great cod and monk fish masala!

I'll be sad to leave the Outer Hebrides tomorrow.  But I head up to Fort WIlliam to meet Cass, my girlfriend, and then head onto Skye for a few days.

It's been a tough ride at times, but never without real highpoints.  I have managed 11 islands in 11 days - 478 miles on the bike in total.

Lewis

Harris

St. Kilda

Berneray

North Uist

Grimsay

Benbecula

South Uist

Eriskay

Barra

Vatersay