Hebridean Way: Day 3 – Grimsay, North Uist

Distance cycled 15.5 miles / 25 km
Cumulative distance cycled 90.2 miles / 145.2 km
Islands visited (daily total) Grimsay, North Uist
Total islands visited 7 of 10
Average speed 10.2 mph / 16.4 kmph
Weather conditions Cloudy with sunny spells, no wind

After a rude awakening just before 5am when the truck started up his engines we dozed for a while. The wind had dropped overnight and a glance through the mesh windows of the tent showed an alarming number of midges gathering in our porches… We packed as much as we could inside but eventually we had to run the gauntlet and unzip the tent. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad once we were outside and there was enough breeze that we felt safe to boil the kettle and have a spot of breakfast without being eaten alive.

Cycling the gentle roads on North Uist

Cycling the gentle roads on North Uist

The road barely touches the corner of Grimsay and we were soon across the next causeway onto North Uist, where we found a lot more water than the earlier islands with the gently rolling road across the moorland passing many small lochs. Entering the village of Carinish, I saw an information board in front of a small church. Tourist information boards had been few and far between so far, so I pulled across to see what it said. It referred to the ruins of Trinity Temple (Teampull in gaelic) which was along the track behind the chapel and across a field of grazing sheep. A medieval ecclesiastical college and monastery, we had a quick look around but it was built above swampy ground and was swarming with midges.

The remains of Trinity Temple in Carinish

The remains of Trinity Temple in Carinish

We didn’t want to take the ferry to Harris until tomorrow which meant we either had a short day and a stay at the campsite at Balranald in the island’s north-west corner or carry on a bit further and look for another wild camping spot. Tired from yesterday’s ride and fancying a shower we opted for the former. An early finish to the day’s cycling meant that we had time to wander the circular path around the neighbouring RSPB reserve. Mainly consisting of machair, a wildflower filled coastal grassy plain, it is an important habitat for ground nesting wading birds as well as the endangered corncrake. The charity also works with local crofters to preserve traditional farming techniques which protect the nests.

 The path through the machair at Balranald Nature reserve

The path through the machair at Balranald Nature reserve

On the way to the campsite we had stopped in the very tempting factory shop of the Hebridean Smokehouse so our dinner of pasta pesto was made much more luxurious with a side of smoked scallops, afterwards we retired to the tent to sample a couple of miniatures of the local Downpour gin.

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