Monday, 17 October 2011


Sylvia and I have just completed our Hebridian journey with days on Islay and Jura.  These islands are homes to wildlife and whisky.  There are 9 distilleries here, or is it 10?  There is an abundance of wildlife here.

We ask where we can see a golden eagle and at the exact spot we find two, both of which are very close to us.  Further along, 15 choughs dance and sing around us.  To reach this point we have passed thousands of barnacle geese that have just arrived from Greenland.  We also pass over 20 hares in the fields and more deer than I have ever seen.  These are wild animals and they share the fields with sheep and cattle all with the approval of the landowners.  Earlier we saw an otter swimming and catching fish.  A landowner on Jura is building a new hydro plant to power the island so less fossil fuels will be used. 

I completed 160 miles on my bike.  We leave Islay tomorrow for our long journey back to Devon.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


Yesterday, I completed my figure of eight cycle ride around the Hebridian Isle of Mull.  I started at the tiny village of Salen on the east coast.  The derelict pier is now home to shags who use the tops of the posts to rest while digesting their latest meal of fish.  Every post is used and as soon as one is vacant, another shag immediately takes its place.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


The landscape and wildlife on the Hebridian island of Mull is as dramatic as anywhere in Scotland.  I am here with my wife for a few days on my third visit.  It is not long before I see white tailed eagles (called sea eagles locally), hen harriers and an otter.  It is deer rutting season and I hear the call of a stag over the moors.  My cycle ride is to be Mull's Figure of Eight, a loop around the coast that shows the best of this island.  It is October and the weather is closing in so it will be taken over two days.

 I leave Tobermoray knowing the forecast is squalls, 25mph winds and gusts up to 45 mph.  The road west to Dervaig and Calgory is remote.  In just 12 miles, there are lochs, high hills, sea water inlets and a wonderful machair beach.  I hit my first squall.  It smacks into me where there is no shelter.  The sky is black and the deluge is horizontal.  It is so cold that it feels like the skin is to be ripped off my face.  Yet my body is warm as I find my Goretex cycling gear can cope with this weather.  The squall vanishes and the wind drops.

I leave the land where yesterday my wife and I saw the white tailed eagles and as the coast turns south I realise that the wind is now behind me.  This is much better.  The sky has cleared and I can see the islands of Rum, Coll and Tiree on the horizon.  Staffa is there also and Ulva soon follows.  This coast has just a few islotated houses.  I pass a water spout shooting vast volumes of water into the sea.  This is spectacular scenery.

Looking out to sea, I see more squalls.  Another one hits me.  This time it is hail and even colder than before but it quickly passes.  Although one island, Mull is narrow in the middle with a short single track road.  This is the crossover of the Figure of Eight.  I pedal off to Salem on the east coast along this road.

Monday, 3 October 2011


It is less than 6 months and I am in the Lake District again.  This time, it is a fleeting visit on route to the Isle of Mull.  There was time for a ride out around Windermere with friends.  I just find the scenery here incredibly beautiful with Lakeland Fells all around, then lakes appearing in the distance.  It is good to see many out on their bikes, including a group of Japanese.