We woke to a resurgence in wind velocity – and it was going to be tight getting to the Berneray to Leverburgh ferry in time. In response to my stoker’s urgings, I tried to keep our pace up, but this was difficult given the very strong headwinds. Oh, and the bizarre conversation from a motorist wondering if he was on the right road for Benbecula! In the end, we made the ferry with about 10 minutes to spare.
The crossing was pretty uneventful – we chatted with other passengers two of whom we’d met at our first B&B.I saw a gannet and a large eagle that seemed to excite the birdwatching contingent.
Once in Leverburgh, we popped into the grocery store for some snack bars, then headed off up the west coast road, rather than the rather more arduous Golden Road. But the head wind was still pretty hard going. At least our feet and hands were still dry as it hadn’t begun to rain. We stopped periodically to photograph the landscapes.
It was while we were in the Hebrides Art gallery and tea room
(eating scones and drinking tea) that the drizzle began. Soon after, the big climb began. Despite the rain, this was pretty good going, and it wasn’t until well after the top that we felt the full force of the wind, laden with rain coming at me with sufficient velocity that it felt like l was being blasted with stones, and rendering me practically sightless. Still, we reached Tarbert in good shape (though slightly soggy).
The B&B we were heading for no longer does evening meals, so we thought we’d have a quick survey of Tarbert for something to eat. Sadly, everything seemed shut. Even a bar advertising “all day food” didn’t start serving food till 5pm. We decided to press on. As we headed out of Tarbert, the wind seemed to strengthen and the rain came on again.
Soon enough we saw the climb of Clisham rearing up ahead of us, with its steep 1:7 section waiting to be scaled. We were doing OK until the wind was shrieking and flinging us from side to side. Steering at our low speed was in practise impossible, so we bit the bullet and climbed off to push though the worst of the wind. There’s a quarry halfway up – there we remounted to ride the rest of the way.
Pretty soon we were an the top, then descending gently to the turn-off for Maraig. This is quite a sleep descent to sea level, but easily negotiated (on the way down at least). We had a really warm welcome, and settled into a splendid large room. We heated up a couple of sachets of our travelling food for dinner in the kitchen, then chatted for a while with another couple staying there. And so to bed, reflecting on another tough day in the saddle.
We planned an easier day for day 4, but what exactly depends on the weather. At least the wind seems to be forecast to be dropping in intensity.