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August 14, 2017

Bikeraft Scotland - Two Adventurers Inspire with Instagram Photo Gallery

Adventure Stories, Photo Gallery

Huw Oliver & Annie Lloyd-Evans Showcase Stunning Bikeraft Scotland Shots in Recent @Alpacka_Raft #InstagramTakeover

Scottish adventurers Huw Oliver and Annie Lloyd-Evans recently took over our Instagram page to showcase their bikeraft Scotland photos. You can read more about their trips on Oliver’s blog, including his latest, “Way out West: Bikerafting in the Outer Hebrides.”

Here’s a teaser from that post:

“At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Scotland is an infinitely more varied and variable part of the world than its size and tourist-pleasing stereotypes would suggest. The mainland alone is a geological patchwork quilt of different massifs and ecosystems, of different accents and too many unhealthy foods to count. Macaroni pie, anyone? As well as the mainland, there are of course nearly 800 islands surrounding our shores. Most of them belonged to the king of Norway in medieval times (he let us have them back though) and the Norse place names that are still common there betray the fact that they don’t always feel like a part of the same country as Edinburgh…”

Stay tuned, as we’ll have more bikeraft Scotland photos and stories from this adventurous duo.

"Loch Maree in the north-west Highlands is home to some of the last remnants of Scotland’s ancient Caledonian forest. In May we used rafts and bikes to access an otherwise fairly unreachable trail which runs underneath Slioch, the peak in the background behind Annie. It’s a rarely visited trail, especially by bikes, and it ran amazingly well after a night spent bivvying at the top, and it eventually spat us out right down by the loch, where we hopped on the water to carry on our way in the sunshine." Photo: Huw Oliver

"The first day we tried to put on the water on the island of North Uist, the weather gods were not with us and the sunshine was in liquid form. This sheltered inlet let us get the boats out through the seaweed, but when Annie rounded the corner the wind was running at force 4 or 5, and good sense told us to get off and carry on our way by bike that day until it eased. Even in midsummer the full force of Atlantic weather hits these islands, and to say that the conditions can be fickle would be very diplomatic!" Photo: Huw Oliver

“Our first night on north Uist was a change for the better, when the rain finally let some sun through. In June and July the unique ecosystem of dune meadows called the Machair comes into flower, and we slept on a carpet of wildflowers with just bumblebees and a very friendly dog (that we called Jerry) for company. He followed us for miles from the last farm we passed. The Outer Hebrides stand out for me for the sheer number of peaceful, beautiful and unexpected camp spots” Photo: Huw oliver

"The straight-line distances we travelled between camp spots weren’t always that far, but then again a journey is more than the sum total of the ground covered – from this bleak spot beside the rocky east coast of Benbecula we navigated a maze of tidal channels accompanied by seals, and several portages later we pitched up the next night beneath Eabhal (‘Ey-Val’), the highest point of North Uist, which can be seen in the background. The view from the summit at sunset included the eery silhouette of the St Kilda archipelago, 40 miles out into the Atlantic." Photo: Huw Oliver

“Anyone living in a part of the world where good conditions aren’t guaranteed will know that it only makes the good days sweeter. After a few days of winds and big swells coming off the Atlantic, the skies cleared and the wind dropped. The sheltered channel between the islands of Benbecula and Ronay were crystal clear – [perfect conditions to be on the sea in the boats. The improbability of being there, having accessed the area by bike on the beaches of the west coast, brought home to me the possibilities that are created when two adventure-loving modes of transport get mushed together to make one big, excellent, adventure pie.” Photo: Annie Lloyd-Evans

“The geography of the Uists is never simple, and they truly do seem to be more water than land. This loch was supposedly fresh water, and we were excited about a fresh water swim to rinse the salt from our clothes, but then a jellyfish bobbed past! It still retains some small connection to the sea, and the brackish water contained a weird mix of freshwater and marine life. It felt like as remote a spot as I’ve ever found in Scotland, but just around a corner was a crannog, or prehistoric man-made island dwelling, so to someone this place was once home.” Photo: Huw Oliver

“Sometimes the quickest way through the abstract topography of the Outer Hebrides is just to carry the boat and bike over small isthmuses to the next stretch of water. I found it easy enough to get the boat over my head and bushwhack through the heather to the next put-on, although the local tick population liked to use it as an opportunity to hitch a ride.” Photo: Annie Lloyd-Evans

“Getting back on the water wasn’tt always the simplest of tasks when it meant lashing the bike to the bow in awkward spots, but this small patch of water lilies was a nice surprise to find. Shortly after this was taken I saw the craziness of trying to keep my stinky, salt-encrusted self dry and waded in. I think even the bike was glad for a chance to get all that salt washed off it after four days of sea spray!” Photo: Annie Lloyd-Evans

“Off the island of Oronsay there is a small skerry named Eilean nan Ron, a gaelic name meaning island of the seals. We paddled out there as quietly as we could, rounding the corner to see a dozen or so lazing on the rocks, snorting indignantly at each other and doing a very good impression of some grumpy geriatrics. They were beautiful to watch. After a while we left them to it, and rode the strong tide race down this channel, with the Paps of Jura and the famous whisky-producing island of Islay in the distance. There was always at least one seal bobbing alongside to keep an eye on us until we had been safely escorted off the premises.” Photo: Annie Lloyd-Evans

“Let my packraft go surfing! Only one thing for it when the surf was up one evening on the island of Colonsay. The rafts surf so easily, and boof their way over incoming waves much better than a kayak. I would love to be able to say that the boat and I became one, a single organic being effortlessly riding the elemental force of the waves. Instead I span around backwards, forwards, sometimes sideways, before getting dumped into the sand at the end. It was brilliant.” Photo: Annie Lloyd-Evans