More from the Hebrides and Highlands

After our lovely rest day with a fresh fish dinner (fish van came to the campsite to sell the freshly caught fish) we headed to the so-called Butt of Lewis. Lots of fun instead of frustration when also the third ATM (after trying two the day before) did not cooperate in raising our cash flow and two closed cafes. The weather was warm and nice, but in the distance a huge grey wall seemed to come towards us from the north. Around 5 km before we reached the butt, we stopped in a cafe for soup / more fish to wait for the cloud to go away. But, alas it turned out to be the local ‘har’, the sea mist, that can stay around for a while when it is there. Even approaching it, temperatures dropped by a felt 10 degrees, oooh, into the wet and cold. But of course we, or mainly I maybe, wanted to reach the most northern point of Lewis. Nature at the top of the island was spectacular, giant rocks, violet flowers, lots of sea gulls and wind and the sea slashing against the rocks. Good to see and experience this. We headed back, and again 5km further south the weather seemed to change completely. And we had seen a newly created campsite on our way, to which we went back to. A site with two pods and luxury kitchen shed with some grass for pitching tents. Informative chat with other campers and cyclists about the road conditions from Ullapool to Inverness and a hint to check out nice places around Inverness. In the morning the har had crossed most of northern Lewis and we woke up to it and took our tents down in it. I noticed how the damp and cold really got to me, it felt like a taste of how travelling on the Hebrides could also have been and I was the more grateful for our stable and warm weather we experienced for most of the time.

Our thoughts were already wandering to the next part of the cycle trip on mainland Scotland and I monitored the weather forcast which said there would be lots of rain on mainland and none on the islands, which was enough reason to spend two nights on a campsite near Stornoway and enjoy two lazy town and campsite days. Good food available in Stornoway too and an exhibition opening with artist talk in the local cultural center. While in Stornoway, I read online that the mother of Donald Trump was born on the Hebrides and left when she was 18 with quite a few other young women from the islands after a very sad accident. After the first world war lots of local men had already been lost and then in early 1919 a boat with 200 men on their way home to the islands was lost in a storm and all died. As a consequence young women from the islands emigrated to Canada and the US to start a family. No sign of Donald Trump being a grandson of the islands though …

Then finally leaving the islands which made me feel sad. However, we had a sunny ferry crossing, about 2,5 hours from Stornoway to Ullapool and arrived to a spacious campsite close to the ferry terminal. In the evening I took a walk through the small town of Ullapool and felt enchanted, a place I would like to come back to. And indeed the rain had cleared when we arrived and even the sometimes (as we were told) busy road was ok to cycle on a Sunday. Even low clouds cleared before we came through. After reaching the highest point of the day it was only downhill. The cycling uphill had felt easy with all the training from the Hebrides, and we could hardly believe the long descend and enjoyed it all the more.

We had thought of cycling around Lochnesss, but the next day I felt my knees hurting slightly and also feeling called by Findhorn where I knew all the time, the cycle trip would stop at least for the time being. So we cycled up a mild hill to Cannich, a taste of the highlands with the valleys and hills in the distance and lots of midges in the woods. On the second day in Cannich the midges became a real challenge for me. The day before I had found a place in myself, I thought, were I did not mind them around and eating me. But this time I wanted to run …

Then two more days of cycling to Findhorn. I found cycling on the big streets around Inverness challenging, wishing myself back to the empty roads of the Hebrides. But arriving in Findhorn was nice. I showed Don around the community site and the dunes and beach and we had a meal in a pub in Findhorn village.

And then, today a week ago, Don left to go back to Birmingham. We had a marvellous time together, all our days together seemed to be blessed. Thank you. And more trips are being planned.

In Findhorn I am helping to prepare a retreat that will start in a few days. Good and insightful times spent with old and new friends, reading, understanding more about the Findhorn community. And somehow the birds are coming more into my focus. I would like to be able to communicate with them. For the moment I am taking more time to watch them, enjoy seeing them having fun bathing in the bird bath in the little garden of the house where I am staying at the moment. There is a portal to another world when I allow myself to ‘be’ with the birds. Don mentioned a few times how birds have been around and doing the same things forever and people and places have changed around that. I find that interesting.

Greetings from Findhorn.

Photos coming in a moment. If you read this without photos, please check back …