Upon arrival in Leverburgh at about 7pm we learned that the shop was closed. We had some backup food, so that was not too much of an issue, but we needed water. We decided to circle back to the harbor where there was a restaurant and ask them for water. When we got there, we took a peek at the menu and decided it looked good! Another restaurant patron told us that the fish was so fresh, they were missing some of the items on the menu because the boat hadn't arrived yet. So we decided to treat ourselves.
We enjoyed some delicious local cuisine--seafood for Alberto and an island venison pie for me. It was delicious and made a nice change from our camp dinners. We filled up on water as well and headed off around the west side of Harris to find a spot to camp. We had heard there was a good spot in North Bay but as we passed by the town in the fading light, we didn't see anything (we later figured out you need to take the turnoff into the town itself, and go through to the other side of it to the beach).
|West side of Harris (near Northbay) in the fading light|
As we were finishing up getting everything set up a guy came out of one of the campervans to offer us a drink. He was from Oban, living in Newcastle, and taking his parents-in-law around the Outer Hebrides for the very first time. He was very friendly and generously made me a cup of tea and gave Alberto a beer -- really can't ask for anything more than that!
|Roadside camp spot the following morning|
We set off northwards along the west side. After about half an hour we passed a campsite in Seilebost. We could have made it if we'd known to head for it, but it didn't appear on our map. Oh well, it really wasn't too bad where we were. The west side of Harris did not disappoint, as we followed the coast with it's many beautiful beaches, and then had a long climb in the north of the island, before turning off to head south down the east coast and back to Leverburgh.
|East coast of Harris|
|Eating outside at the Skoon Art Cafe|
|This is the beach in North Bay that we were trying to find the night before|
It was starting to get late, but it didn't seem like there was anywhere nearby to camp so we decided to head to Huisinis as we had originally wanted to. I don't know why we were convinved that the road to Huisinis would be relatively flat, perhaps because it went along the coast. But it was not flat. It was actually some of the worst hills we had encountered on the trip. I do believe I began cursing them at some point, but it didn't change things. We wanted to get to camp before dark so we just kept pushing, and after what seemed like hours we finally reached the beach. The beach was absolutely stunning, well worth all the effort. It felt like paradise (if paradise exists at 5 degrees C).
|The road to Huisinis|
We woke up on the early side due to the bright sunshine coming in to the tent. We decided to go for a walk around the fields before breakfast to take in the views from other angles. There were tons of rabbits out in the fields, though we seemed to scare them away whenever we got near. We packed the tent and headed back down to the beach to make breakfast. There was another young couple on bikes there who had spent two nights there but were getting ready to head off. They were on really cheap bikes and carrrying backpacks, and were mainly using the bikes because it seemed easier than bringing a car, rather than purposefully setting off on a bike tour.
About two thirds of the way back to the main road we stopped to check out the North Harris Eagle Observatory. We asked some walkers who were headed back to their cars about the condition of the trail and they said it was passable by bike so we left our panniers at the entrance and set off on our bikes. It was a good test of their off-road capabilities. We reached the eagle observatory and hung out for a while waiting to see what we could see. We did spot the eagle after a time, though sadly we didn't have binoculars so we couldn't really see any great detail. Still, it was cool.
We headed back out to the road and then onto the main road which links Harris and Lewis. We knew there was a hill to climb but were not prepared for just how long it would be. This stretch between Harris and Lewis was the longest of the whole ride where we would not encounter any services, towns, or restaurants...
(to be continued!)