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Outer Hebrides


Bill Davies

Outer Hebrides Three Wheeler Trip June 2016-06-11

A pre trip meeting was held to agree who was carrying what and the final meeting point, the Green Wellie, a popular tearoom on the main road North. The group who would be attending were Tom Rae, Colin Fergusson, Bert Beattie, Iain Ross, Rob Jenkins, and myself.

The day of the off saw the East coast boys charging across country to the meet, however the charge stopped when Tom decided the back side of his car needed to be repaired... Tom being ever resourceful called into a Forestry repair shed and in exchange for beer tokens had a welding repair done to the rear spring plate. They continued the charge to the meet, now being late they missed morning coffee and I met up with them as the approached the meet. Sitting is a layby I was able to squirt out into the traffic as they passed and the convoy carried on for Oban our shipping port. Petrol purchased before Oban, and Tom decided the repair was insufficient so called on the services of his immense contact list and was escorted away from the boat to a Rally Car Expert for a more substantial repair.

Motley crew

The party now down to five waved bye bye and we set sail for Castlebay on Barra. Fed on the boat, we had to pass some five hours of very pleasant sailing on a flat calm on a beautiful day. Arriving on Barra we proceed to our campsite, a field on the beach looking West to the USA. Having selected our spot a chap in a white van arrived and told us we were in the wrong field but as we were pitched up he let us stay (the chap was in fact our host and we would meet him later on the ferry). A beautiful sunset dinner and a few drinks led to a very peaceful nights sleep, to be awoken by a bl***dy cuckoo at dawn, 4 am, this was repeated every day I think the bird took a fancy to us.

Learning Gaelic for a ditch

Camp packed we were off clockwise round the island (about 25 miles a total circuit) after some three miles Rob decided to retrieve his shiny mug from the back of his car, and stopped in a house entry. Mug packed he set off over a nice piece of green grass, only to stop suddenly with the left wheel down a drainage ditch. I had stopped as backmarker and went back to assess the problem, there was no way I was lifting the hot Guzzi end , so got my car and manuevered it to allow a tow rope and a gently pull to get him back on the road, about turn and time to play catch up. The cleaner at the adjacent church came out to offer some assistance... maybe the Good One would lift the car!!! The others had got my message and were in the process of returning to the scene.

Plane spotting on Barra

We carried on round to the Airport to find out the arrivals times and since we had a couple of hours to spare we drove on round to the Isle of Vatersay joined to Barra by a causeway, when we reached the end I turned round and noticed that there appeared to be steam/oil coming from the engine... oh No!!! the end?

The first thing to be noticed was the pipes from the Rocker boxes were missing some tube, then the catch tank was gone!!! That was the clatter I heard after the Airport. A temporary solution was created from a used tin of potatoes and the pipes extended to drip as necessary. Well that was a relief simple... start the engine up and the oil was just the same... the vent valve from the crankcase had been blown out and there was a 20mm hole where the oil was puffing over the electrics, this could be the end. However between the collective intelligence we capped the hole with a sheet of paper towel capped with a drink bottle cap then a wad of cotton rag kept pressure on it and the engine tested... it was holding. A test run was need before the decision would have to be made... do I call the AA, not the liquid variety but the guys in the yellow vans who could meet me in Oban.

We would return to the Airport via the same road and keep a lookout for the shinny tank, all eyes were on the verges except mine which were scanning the engine the oil light while I thought of the cost if the engine blew!!!. No tank but we arrived at the Airport and did a check on all orifices, no sign of oil leaks and the level was as be fore the test. I would continue with the tour. Thanks to all my fellow travellers and their collective inputs and words of encouragement( the repair lasted for the remainder of the trip some 500miles and will be attended to once spares arrive). It has to be assumed that "Donald found the tank and it is now pride of place on the mantle shelf, a find from a UFO".

Motley crew

We duly presented ourselves at the next ferry point and loaded where we met our host from the night before and duly paid our camp dues, can't be bad £2 a head. The Engineer on the boat looked into his stores and produced a bit of 9.5mm hose in case we needed more repairs. We then moved round to the village stores to try and find out where Tom was, we knew his car was repaired and he was coming via Uig on Skye to join us tonight. Here we discovered that mobile phone signals are varied, you need to be signed up to ALL suppliers to be able to get a signal. Between the five of us we were able to confirm that Tom had crossed to Lochmaddy and was on route to the campsite. By the time we arrived Tom had just finished setting up his tent and was in the process of pouring a G&T.

Looking for St. Kilda 50 miles away

Dinner was at the local Hotel and then a few jars were consumed before bed, a tale or two were told... a grand night. In the morning we travelled on to Lochmaddy for coffee and cake before topping all the fuel tanks, a procedure to be done at all times along the way. Then we drove to the next ferry point before going for lunch at a local café then time for a spin round North Uist. A visit to the high viewpoint to see St Kilda (50miles out to sea the most Westerly point in the UK) all we saw was the sea mist. About turn down to the coast road and across the mountains to the ferry, here we learned that the boat had dropped anchor this morning because the sea mist was too dense.

Motley crew
Motley crew

The boat duly arrived at the berth and we loaded, at the last moment about 12 motorbikes arrived and piled onto the boat and we set sail for Harris by a complex route through the part submerged rocks. It turned out the bikers were friends of Colin's who were on a bike tour of the islands and had been on the boat this morning when the ship stopped in mid stream. A gauntlet had been thrown down and we were off first and the charge to the campsite was won by us... we gave a friendly toot as they passed by.

Camping on Lewis

Another beautiful campsite on the sand dunes over looking a silver sandy bay. The evening was spent with tales of daring do and a few drams, then to bed. Payment was by an Honesty box, put the allotted founds in the envelop and write your car reg and tent size and post it at the gate, how nice to be trusted in this day and age. The next morning we retraced our step to Leverburgh to drive up the East coast road... the Golden Road... and was it good, you bet a twisty route built many years ago just right for Trikes. Our arrival at Tarbert on Harris saw us searching out the coffee shop for cake etc, before continuing on to our "Kultur" stop at the Calanais stones, an ancient stone cross erected by our forebares. Lunch finished we moved on to the Black House at Gearannan to view life at the turn of the century... 1900s... very basic and a hard existence. More coffee before heading to Barabas for fuel stop and then retrace our steps to Uig where we got slightly wandered and arrived at Gallan Head... strange people watched as we passed then repassed, God knows what was going through the minds... they were from another world, not seeing many foreign cars in the year!!!. Eventually we found our campsite after getting advise from many locals, if we had only gone round another bend we would have found it. A memorial to the Nordic Chessmen was at the entry to the site, another sand dune with a £2 charge per person plus £1 for a shower... if only the folk from Edinburgh knew how to work it they too could have washed. Site packed we set off to head to the Northerly point... The Butt of Lewis... there was a delay at the start as Bert wanted to take a few pictures.

Colin's demise -  broken crankshaft

Once on the move Colin gained a short lead, passing on single track can lose a couple of minutes and then the chase begins... again. Round an open left hander sat our Colin beside his car with a face like fizz. "It is broke" he declared and we all gathered with heads bowed to assess the damage... a suspected snapped crankshaft... to be confirmed on strip down.

Now my piece d'resistence( or something like that) out of my caveranous boot space I produced like a magician a drawbar and attachment to allow the car to be towed to safety. Ready for the road I then went back to the boot and found a rotating beacon for the safety hoop to warn of my Tow. A good laugh for us all in our time of need... the tow was uneventful except for one bit when a shunt from behind caused me to bash a big stone at the road side. The others followed till we reached the main road then they went off to the Butt of Lewis while Colin and I carried on to the ferry. Once there we parked up and left Jock(Colin's dog in charge of the cars while we went of in search of coffee and cake). In due time we we booked in and then loaded to the ship to Ullapool for another very smooth crossing. Once in Ullapool Tom's family came to the recue in the form of a safe house to leave Colin's car while we repacked his essentials for the ongoing travels(Colin will collect the car next week when up that way at a bike rally). The convoy carried on to Fortrose, known as the best spot in Scotland for watch Porpoise etc as the feed on the fish as they pass through the narrows. After a Last Supper in the Crofters, joined by Calum Beveridge, we retired to camp for a final drink. The weather that had up till now been fantastic broke and a light rain fell most of the night. There was a lull in the rain in the morning and I dropped the tent and packed up, as I was going down the West Coast I said my fair wells and thanks for the friends who had shared our travels through thick and thin, and set off alone just as the rain started again.

The run down through the Great Glen to Fort William was through a light rain which turned to heavy each time the bus in front shook the trees and dumped the water on me. A couple of cars were having a barney outside of FW having just stoved in the rear of a shiny BMW, causing a minor hiccup to my travels. On down the road to GlenCoe to arrange a camping weekend for our motorcycle club and then the Green Wellie at Tyndrum, the scene of the start line. Lunch before continuing to Alloway in South Ayshire, some 600 miles, not a great distance but so enjoyable on quiet roads with courteous drivers and is such good company... good laughs and adventures.

When are we away again need to book some time off in exchange for Brownie Points

Need to start the planning for our next outing, the summer is too short to hang around, then we will be off to the 24th Treffen in Holland... see you there all you crazy guys... keep the wheels spinning.

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