When we first visited Lochedge Guest House in 2012, Richard Barrett, who runs Lochedge, mentioned he was just completing a book on cycling in the Hebrides. By the time we returned in 2014, the book was approaching a reprint, and there were a couple of copies in the B&B. After leafing through one of these, I decided to buy a copy on my return.
Physically, the book is conveniently sized for stuffing in a pocket or handlebar bag. But its small size doesn’t detract from its contents. In its nearly 300 pages, all of the Hebridean islands from Arran to Lewis are well-covered, along with a number of linking routes, many on the west coast of mainland Scotland, which enable the individual routes to concatenate into lengthy tours. I have on many occasions ridden on Mull, Skye and the Outer Hebrides, and many of the west coast roads, and I think Barrett’s descriptions of these routes are accurate and well-described. I imagine that the routes I’ve not ridden so far will be likewise accurate.
The routes include maps and (usefully) altitude profiles. The descriptions include useful factoids such as places to eat and where bike shops are (they can be few and far between), along with interesting facts about locations that pique one’s interest.
While the main part of the book consists of six geographically grouped chapters of cycling routes, they are book-ended by an introduction that give well-considered advice on planning a trip (including equipment, weather, maps, and suggestions for tours), and a series of useful appendices with summaries of the routes, ferries and so forth. I am particularly taken by the table of possible day trips to the minor islands (e.g. a day trip to Coll is possible from Oban on Thursdays in the summer, with a possible stay on Coll of 8 hours).
Having read the book, I am now planning excursions to the southern and minor islands!
Highly recommended, even to those (like me) who may have cycled extensively in some of the Hebrides before.
Cycling in the Hebrides – Island touring and day rides by Richard Barrett Pub Cicerone Press ISBN9781852846435