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2023 Outer Hebrides E-Bike Tour

The Hebridean Way

Spanning almost 200 miles across 10 breathtaking islands from Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis, The Hebridean Way is a truly iconic and unforgettable island experience.The route boasts rugged hills and dazzling Atlantic coastline, with plenty of stop-offs to rest, repair and restock along the way. 

Getting to and crossing the Hebridean Way unsurprisingly requires visitors to travel via a series of ferries. For this tour, we made our initial crossing from Oban on the Scottish mainland, to the Sound Of Barra which is located at the southern most tip of the archipelago, ending our trip two weeks or 185 miles later at the Butt of Lewis in the far north. 

Cycle Britain have proudly spent the last three years perfecting our Outer Hebrides tours to additionally include numerous highlights of local history, knowledge and island culture, so it’s fair to say we now know a thing or two! The guide below provides information on how to plan your own tour, as well as more information on all Cycle Britain tours for 2024. If you would like to join a pre-organised tour with full logistics support, pre-booked hotels, lunch and more, or to enquire about your own bespoke tour for a group of 6 to 12, please contact us where we will be more than happy to assist and answer any questions which you may have.

Tips for An Amazing E-bike Tour

Tip One - Research the Hebridean Way before your trip

Tip Two: Book your flight or ferries well in advance

From New Zealand to Scotland

The Cycle Britain team were tasked with organising a bespoke e-bike tour to the remote Outer Hebrides for a returning group from New Zeland. The tour was not only tailored to include the history and culture of the Hebrides but also additionally two boat trips, the first to the Island of Mingulay, and the second from Husinish to the Calanish stones. This is remarkably a place of incredible white sandy beaches, turquoise seas, flower strewn meadows, rocky shorelines, awe-inspiring views with some added peace and tranquillity.   

Following initial consultations, the group from New Zeland were advised by company owner and trip-lead Alan to book their flights onto Barra from Glasgow.  Flying in to the Hebrides, the group departed from Glasgow airport on a Viking DHC-6, renowned for its short take off abilities, flying over a beautiful 140 mile flight path, cruising over Loch Lomond and the incredible Isle of Mull before begining their descent to Barra. During their flight, the group observed the machair covered moors below as well as the shallow bay of Traigh Mhor.  There’s not many places in the world where you will touch down on a 2 mile long, white sandy wonderland such as Barra Airport which is regularly voted the top airport approach on the planet, but if your trip was booked with Cycle Britain then your Ebike will already be there waiting for you.

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Upon landing, the New Zealand group were met by their guide and support team with the bikes ready to start their journey. Visiting the wonderful Community cafe on  Isles of Barra and Vatersay, our journey heads north using ferries and causeways to hop between the islands of Eriskay, South Uist, Benbecula, North Uist, Berneray, Harris and Lewis before we end on the Atlantic Coast at the Butt of Lewis.

The trip offers the unique cycling experience.   Adding visits to the wild and untamed landscapes of inhabited islands , wildlife flourishes, and human history dates back over thousands of  years. Highlights along the way included a boat trip to the island of Mingulay which is one hour from Barra on a local boat, the Standing Stones of Callanish, Luskentyre Beach,  The Golden Road, St Clements Church and much more.

Our knowledge ensures the choice of the accommodation all offer a warm welcome after a day on the bike with evening meals either taken here or at a nearby pub or restaurant.

This trip takes place entirely on well-surfaced sealed roads and is suitable for all bike types. Should you prefer off-road sections when exploring the area with us, then our Hebridean Explorer would be more suitable for your style of riding

Tip Three - Book your accommodation well in advance

Hebrides and Accommodation and Food

 The key challenge it to ensure that you have the accommdation booked well in advance.  On the Cycle Britain tours we book the hotels well in advance.  Alan Little the Tour Manager looks forward to staying at the classic Harris hotel with friendly staff, great food and a traditional style.  The hotel has twenty-three en-suite bedrooms in keeping with the character of the building.   Barra Beach hotel is one of the other hotels we recommend as it is in a beautiful location on the island of Barra.  

 

 

 

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Mingulay - the last but one of the chain of islands

Mingluay is a fantastic day trip from Barra. The cliffs of Mingulay are its most notable feature. The largest cliff rises from the Atlantic in an unbroken wall facing north. Formed from some of the oldest rock on the planet. The gneiss is traversed by numerous veins of red felspar.

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Tip Four: Book your island hopping ferries well in advance

Tip Two:  Book for ferry journeys as early as possible as they will book up early.  Caledonian MacBryane operates the fleet that support the local communities of the Western Isles.  Although you can book online I recommend calling them to discuss your booking and gain assistance.  Cycle Britain book all the ferry journeys for all aspects of our tours and manage this for the clients.  The ferry joinery’s are a unique part of the tour and an interesting and exciting part of the tour experience

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Wildlife and Unique Farm Animals

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Tip Five - Learn about the wildlife in advance of arrival

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Ensure that you leave some time for visiting some of the local sights and beaches.  

The Golden Road

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Tip Six: Share the journey with friends or join a scheduled tour

Cycle Britain offers both scheduled and bespoke cycling  tours.   Sharing the journey is a key to enjoying the Islands in full.  Below the group from New Zealand are about to cycle around the Golden Road which is an amazing cycling trip on the Isle of Harris.

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Tip Seven: Book your places to eat in advance

Since first opening our doors in 2004, Kismul Cafe on the Island of Barra have taken great pride in ensuring that where ever possible, they use the best, locally sourced ingredients. They cook the majority of our dishes fresh on premises daily to ensure they are up to an amazing standard.  We always book this place well in advance to ensure we have the dining taking care of.   The Hebrides has very limited restaurants and virtually everywhere closes on Sunday.

Tip Eight: Consider booking trips

Outer Hebrides are the perfect destination for combining wildlife and cycling.  The chances are that you will see seals, sea eagles, golden eagles, otters, and numerous deer.  For the chance to see Whales, porpoises and dolphins we recommend one of the boat trips offered by Seatrek.

The islands are one of the best natural landscapes in Europe, wildlife in the Western Isles is some of the finest in the world, with Outer Hebrides animals and plants all at home in their surrounding without fear of poaching, pollution or disturbance.

Wildlife watching in the Outer Hebrides is wonderful where the white-tailed eagle soars over the rugged coastline as red deer roam proudly over the peaty moorlands and otters swim in many sea lochs.

Much of the wildlife in the Western Isles is unique and protected, meaning that visitors enjoying Scottish island cycling  breaks here can enjoy pursuits as diverse as spotting minke whale in the sea around the Outer Hebrides and eagle watching in the sky.  Many clients on our tours choose to stay a few extra days in Stornaway and enjoy the opportunity to undertake additional wildlife trips.

The islands are a popular destination for birdwatching in Scotland, as birding in the Western Isles offers opportunities to see everything from birds of prey to seabirds and waders.  The Western Isles are the summer home to two thirds of the elusive British corncrake population from April to September.  Cycle Britain always visit the RSPB site on North Uist as it combine a fantastic route with 

One of the most iconic of the Outer Hebrides animals is the red deer, and with an estimated 4,000 of them living on Lewis and Harris, seeing deer is a common experience on a wildlife tour of the Western Isles.   Cycle Britain take a less travelled road to ensure that the chances of seeing red deer is greatly increased.

Cyclists can also spot otters which can grow up to four feet in length if left to live and feed undisturbed in the sea lochs of Lewis and waters around our islands.  As we cycle past and and we wait for ferries the slower pace of our journey lends itself to seeing more wildlife than those in card.

Another popular part of our Scottish island wildlife is the wonderful sealife of the Outer Hebrides.  Visitors can enjoy some of the world’s richest and most vibrant marine life in the Western Isles, starting as soon as you set foot on the ferry. Look out for Porpoises, orca whales, minke whales, basking shakes and numerous species of dolphins in the waters surrounding our islands.

 

Tip Nine - See the highlights of culture and history on your tour

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The Islands are rich in Archaeology and History. There is evidence of considerable prehistoric human activity on the Outer Hebrides.  During the cycling tours we  see an array of archaeological sites including, brochs, cairns, duns and stone circles. The most famous of these sites being the Standing Stones at Calanais (Callanish), which pre-date Stonehenge.  Our recent clients family history meant that this was a big draw to the area.  Peter Macloed from New Zealand enjoyed St Clemnents Church and the link to his historic clan.

The earliest written references to the Outer Hebrides are contained in Norse Saga. The influence of Norse invaders and settlers is still evident in many names, which are Scandinavian in origin. The Islands eventually became part of Scotland in the mid 13 th century but the word Hebrides is thought to have originated from the Norse word ‘Havbredey’, meaning ‘Isles on the edge of the sea

The more recent history of the islands has been strongly shaped by the clan system. To this day, original clan surnames such as MacNeil, MacDonald, MacLeod, MacAulay and Maclver are common in the Outer Hebrides and to a large extent many have retained their ancient geographical distribution.

Tip 10: Consider an Ebike to counter the wind and make the tour more enjoyable

Ebike

Cycle Britain own a fleet of 12 high quality bikes which our clients from New Zealand hired for the duration of their bespoke tour.  These bikes are fully serviced before each tour to ensure no mechanical issues.  Contact us on 01925 564281 to discuss your tour requirements.

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