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Motorcycle Meditation In The Wild And Wet

By Rev. Mick!

Day 5

This one is that funny day you get on all trips. There is nothing wrong with making distance in bad weather but it feels more of an errand that has to be done and try not to imagine the scenery if it had been nice. We were staying the next night in Gary’s (to whom we are giving a Ganesh) bothy on the remote west coast of Lewis.

Drew had been packing his bike before I found my way downstairs. We hassled the lovely landlady for an early breakfast to be off for the first Eriskay ferry. "It’s a bit wet Mick!" "Oh!" I add to the discussion. This is my empty space, until I’m on my second cup of strong tea I remain there. So there was not a thought passed through my mind until somewhere in breakfast and I realised we were off. 

It was wet, we're riding by headlight into rain during Barra’s rush hour. Single track roads with most of the commuters driving large vans or lorries all going the other way. I have just checked and I took no photos during that ride. It wasn’t really a photo sort of day. 

A black and white image of the Innova with beautiful Highland scenery

We were soon at a remote ferry port in North Barra. There is truly a fair number camper vans, also even in late Sept a couple of motorcycles too. Many of the people were just getting back into the run of their lives after an unexpected bank holiday weekend. Everyone seems bustling, chatting, passing on news and as in the case of many of my adventure buddies - mugs of Joe. Soon we were loaded, they get very slick at tie down after a summer of practice.

The Innova and the Piaggio strapped to the deck in the rain

They most usually put you on these small ferries first, one of the times when two wheels good. They usually pull out a couple of the front cars but then let you off first too.

A soaking wet lane leads to the wet and wild ferry crossing on the Scottish Islands

I happen to be immensely fond of CalMac ferries. Over my life they usually denote an adventure of some sort. Like the London Underground they have their own smell. That smell Stena try to get rid of in the big ferries.

Once we got off in Eriskay the weather continued with the wet theme. We rode with just a couple of stops from Barra to the very remote Northwest of Lewis in one shot. I will say my Oxford Montreal touring suit keep me dry and pretty warm with a fleece, no wet suit rash. A man attempted to pull out on me in Eriskay.

Our worst moment came when we turned off for fuel. We drove a fair number of miles down this remote country road, blowing a high cross wind as the Innova wriggles it’s way forward. We got there, Drew following me and we pull up to the pumps. I cannot get the pump to work. I go the garage office but it is uninhabited and unlit. So we walk round the back and enter a parallel universe. It's this huge modern head office building, all low key a very swish, lots of matching grey and aluminium. The very pretty receptionist said they'd run out and had not had a new delivery.

For us it was back to wet riding. Also Drew said "I can’t ride at that speed it'll do my head in." "Bye Drew". In fairness I have always held that long motorcycle rides covering distance are a branch of meditation. I have to focus to get anything like the level of absorption from Zen practice as riding a long distance. You are in that "no thought" zone just doing what is needed no more no less to keep the bike on it’s journey. The wet got wetter, the light dimmed, lots of idiots doing their thing.

As we were in Gary’s bothy that night we needed to stop for supplies. The road turns off before Stornoway but we go for Tarbet and it’s Google promised Supermarket.

We stop the bikes next to the post office and as I take off the helmet there is a full blast of ganja. I turn round and there this old dude firing up a blunt. I am slightly taken aback, just not what I was expecting on a wet afternoon in Tarbert. He was in great form and got us up to speed on the town’s retail outlets. He preferred neither as they both had good points. We went for the mini market which hit the spot with us. 

Up over the Clisham pass with very low cloud and by this time my gloves became liquid but I've no desire to change them, just shut that thought off and go back to the dream. As we clear the mountains we come to Lewis. The weather clears up and it is a joyful if cold by now ride to Gary’s place in Bhaltos. I remember it instantly. It is so pretty and perfect.

The small white building of the both is set in the wild and remote landscape of Lewis
Looking down across fields and hardy grasses we see a huge sandy beach and towering bluffs
Inside the bothy is a humble sink, woodburner, chair and a few simple items

We dined on the finest beans on toast, a box of nice red wine, and all by lamplight. This bothy has no electric, running water, WiFi or even phone. It has a pair of battered and bruised but very happy riders who fade into the candle and open fire. Bedtime.


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Holy Water On Departure It's Rev. Mick!'s day of departure, in spite of his wife's misgivings. He's crossing Ireland and he's already lost in his own country.
Countryside, Culture And Carlingford Lough Rev. Mick! is finding a ferry and fascinating sights as he makes his way northbound towards Belfast. A good day all in all but there may be just one small hiccup ahead.
Police, Passages, Pals, and Pints Rev. Mick! is escorted by the police, hangs out with Scooter types and catches TWO ferries. It seems he can't have an "ordinary" day.
Ferries And Fun But No Food It's all ferries and frolics for Rev. Mick! as he gets deep into The Highlands and islands. The riding and crossings are good but there's a problem with acquiring sustenance.
Motorcycle Meditation In The Wild And Wet Rev. Mick! is having one hell of a day. The Hebridean weather is throwing it's worst at them as they make their way northbound to their raison d'etre.
Lovely Lewis And Chilled Chums Rev. Mick! finds today to be much calmer and enjoyable rather than endurable. A tour of the northern half of Lewis and some good company sees Mick swinging and snoring.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Scottish weather, gotta love it.
I'd need two mugs of Joe at least, plus the box of Châteauneuf du Pop.
Upt'North.
23/12/2022 08:46:37 UTC

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