185 miles across mainly quiet roads from South to North

Statistics

42,199

m

42,199

m

36

max┬░

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Moderate

Description

See other online resources for further logistics.

NCN 780.

The route is well signposted.

Logistically these islands are hard to reach but most of the difficulty is, perhaps ironically, in crossing the mainland to the start and back from the finish. A beautiful ride with varied scenery and terrain.

From the fractured coastlines, white beaches and causeways of the smaller southern islands to the mountainous terrain of Harris and ultimately the expansive moorlands of Lewis.

The roads are well maintained so a road bike "bikepacking set up, touring bike or any bike will work well.

Many wild camping options en route.

Consider that the weather is changeable and can be glorious or torrential sideways rain.

This can affect ferry crossings so have some leeway in any plans.

The people are relaxed, very friendly and hospitable but Sundays are quiet days on the islands with a lot of shops closed for religious reasons; most hotel restaurants remain open.

The two main logistical considerations are ferry timings which are all available online and the travel to start&back from the finish.

You can break it up as you wish, the GPX shows a great way along the quieter roads on the West coast of Lewis but our riding itinerary was as follows: Day 1: Train Glasgow to Oban (3hr train) with rail and sail ticket and bike booking, 4h50min ferry from Oban to Castlebay on Barra.

From Castlebay you can ride South to the southernmost point of Vatersay to camp or return to stay/eat in Castlebay (return trip is 18.6km/11.5 miles). Day 2: Castlebay (Barra) to Leverburgh (Harris) 141.7km/88 miles.

Starting early to ride up Barra for the ferry from Northbay to Eriskay on South Uist: 40 mins crossing.

Cycling North you cross a number of causeways and pass through Benbecula, Grimsay, North Uist and Berneray to reach the Berneray ferry terminal (crossing time 1 hour) to cross to Leverburgh, Harris.

Leverburgh has many guest houses, Co-Op and restaurants. Day 3: Leverburgh to Stornoway (differs from gpx), Lewis (90km/56 miles, 1168m elevation gain).

A hilly day of riding.

Stornoway has good amenities for an overnight stop.

Could be combined with day 4 for a very strong cyclist. Day 4: Stornoway to the Butt of Lewis (very impressive cliff walks and lighthouse).

(87km/54 miles, 734m elevation gain).

Route done! From here you can wait in the warmth of the Sporsnis Leisure Centre in Ness for your pre-arranged bike shuttle or cycle back to Stornoway. From Stornoway you can sail to Ullapool and cycle the busy A835 to Inverness (60 miles/100km to Inverness to get the train back home) or book a bike shuttle with one of a number of companies to Inverness or back home.