From Stornoway to Barra
Can I just say at this point that I am in the middle of writing such a guide!!! done the route and various logistics (esp water sources), maps, wildlife bits, shops, PO's, geology and history - will be back this summer to check all I have done actually works
ps Paddy, should I contact publishers now? or after?
Andrew - Now or after? I can only tell you how I do it. I always get everything agreed before I start walking. That way, publisher and author can kick ideas back and forth, and either side might come up with additional ideas that are well worth considering, and there's also the opportunity to shoot down in flames things that aren't such a good idea after all. If you present an entire illustrated manuscript as a fait accompli, then it might not tie in with a publisher's house style, in which case they'll want changes, and those changes could be major. What I suggest is that you take a sample couple of stages, along with your introduction and contents list, and make an approach to a publisher at this stage. Do it now, because if you're planning a return visit this summer, they may want to suggest things to you before you do any more work.
As for Ausin96 - maybe put your plans on hold for a couple of years and you might find the ideal guidebook will suddenly land in your lap!
Try "The outer Hebrides - the timeless way" by Peter Clarke. It's not exactly a guidebook, rather more an account of a of walk along the entire island chain but you can follow the route easily on maps.
A full circuit of Barra is recommended, and wander over to Vatersay for a picnic.
Don't miss Eriskay - again take in its coast and beaches as well as highest point.
South Uist - suggest a combination of west and east coast, as they are so strikingly different. West coast not great for water, but you can (I think) camp by the Gatliff hgostel at Howmore - but don't bank on any sleep due to the corncrakes! From Howmore head east to the highest hills - great walking - then drop down for a couple of days moving north up the rocky empty (midgy) east coast. Tip for S. Uist - miss Lochboisdale, its very down at heel.
Benbecula - I have mixed feelings here, with empty bogs and rocks, but at least there's a good shop at Creagorry and I've camped near to it with glorious sunsets over the strand to S. Uist
North Uist - call in at Grimsay, nice harbour, etc, then take in a rough route around Eaval/Loch Obisary, leaving the road at Claddach Carinish. A day or two later return to civilisation and maybe hitch over to the west coast - Vallay Strand, beautiful machair, etc. plus Balranhald RSPB reserve, views to St Kilda on a good day
End up on Berneray - this is where Prince Charles spent his holidays planting potatoes in the 1980s. Camp by the Gatliff hostel, put your feet up and watch the otters playing outside on the beach.
Harris and Lewis - I've never been!
Thanks everyone for the awesome response sorry I haven't replied been at my parents where the internet is a scarce thing. I think I'm going to reverse my route as the risk of missing the flight back to the mainland is a bit much for me so I'd rather fly out and ferry back I think. Anyone got any advice on buying a pack for this sort of escapade I only have a 35 litre and I know there's no way that will suffice.
Yes, you'll need a bigger pack - 60 litre, maybe? Plenty of good advice on this on the gear section of OM.
You don't actually need to reverse your route in order to end the trip by ferry - Calmac run ferries from Barra to Oban.
My experience as well ! Kept turning the corner, looking fwd to a relief from the constant headwind, only to find ... another headwind.
I also got royally soaked, forgot to pack a headtorch and had to flag down a passing motorist on arrival as it was as dark as the inside of a coal cellar, and could find no food on a Sunday. But the beauty of the Hebrides was astonishing, and so many birds and unbelievable beaches ... am sure your walk will be superb !!
I finished waking the "Timeless Way" on 4th July, trying my best to follow the route from Peter Clarke's book plus a GPS track from the LDWA website. To do the 10 inhabited islands, including a full circuit of Berneray was 230 miles and took me 14 days. There's a full account at http://www.gillatt.org/hebrides.
For a fairweather walker like me I must say that it wasn't one of my favourite long distance walks. The route I followed included a lot of road walking, though with very little traffic, and a great deal of the off road parts, except on South Uist, were mostly without any tracks that I could find and involved yomping over squelchy, boggy moorland. Having said that, there is extreme beauty on the islands and, if you like it, solitude. I said goodbye to my wife, a non-walker, at Kinlochroag, walked to Kinlochresort and on to Bowglass and when I met my beloved there I hadn't seen a single person all day.
Only saw midges one day - but they had teeth six inches long!
Good question John. The book has sold well and is still available. Based on walkers who contact me I would say that two or three people per year do the whole walk. However, more do individual sections of the walk.
John Gillatt has done well to do the whole route and has published a fantastic web site giving full details of his walk: http://www.gillatt.org/hebrides
The walk may appear to be a well kept secret but the vagaries of the book trade do not help. With the notable exception of Stanfords in Covent Garden, few book sellers stock the book but they can and do order it upon request via their wholesalers. Electronic mail order companies are relucant to take this route so more often than not list the book as "not available". If you hit this check out www.outerhebridesway.org
The book has always been available mail order via the publishers and can also be obtained on line via www.outerhebridesway.org.
A bit late on this one, and may be of no interest, but one of the best events ever for me was the Hebridean Challenge. A true adventure race over five days with a proper stop for all teams each night, road bikes, mountain bikes, swimming, kayaking and fell running all used to create a continuous route. The joy/frustration of the running was virtually no paths, lots of long sea inlets amongst the bogs and lochans - a good micro navigation test for all. Shame it all changed from out of season to mid season, if in fact it is still going, it changed from a blessing to a burden to the local economy.
Been back many times at a more relaxed pace just to keep taking in the ever changing spectacle of the Hebrides, and even when you think you 'know' particular routes, the mist rolls in from nothing, so the maps are your friends. South to North certainly seems to get the most favourable winds!
Austin 96, if you haven't bought another pack yet, take time to get one fitted that suits your shape/size, and that has pockets/compartments that suit your needs, forget brand names. Its a bit like boots/shoes, fit and function first, with user reviews further down the line.
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