Cycling at sunset through the epic Isle of Harris, Scotland

나는엔 2017 my girlfriend Harriet and I spent a lot of our free time travelling around the British Isles looking for the best places to cycle. While at university in London, we often went out exploring on our bikes, including leaving on the last day of our first year to cycle to Portsmouth and then continuing south all the way to Barcelona. When university finished – and we were unsure of what to do next – we kept cycling. This time we headed north, to the Hebrides, with our sleeping bags and panniers full of flapjacks.

Accompanied by a pod of dolphins, we travelled by ferry from Uig at the northern end of Skye to Tarbert on Harris. We cycled north along the winding coastal road, past the ruins of traditional chimney-less dwellings for families and livestock blackened by the smoke that had come through the thatched roof. The single track, nicknamed the Golden Road due to the astronomical cost of building it, dipped and dived across rock-pools, boulder fields and seaweed- strewn shores.

Unlike the roads on neighbouring Skye, those on Lewis and Harris were almost traffic-free. In recent years, Skye has made the news for being overrun by tourists eager to see the unique topography. The Skye bridge, which opened in 1995, allows visitors to reach the most spectacular Hebridean island without having to board a ferry or be delayed by “big weather” (as we were on the return journey).

Far fewer visitors make it across the Minch to the Outer Hebrides, but tourism is still a significant part of the Lewis and Harris economy. Like the rest of Scotland, wild camping is permitted on almost all unenclosed land, but to ease the tension between strained local infrastructures and increased tourist numbers, 그만큼 West Harris Community Trust has come up with an ingenious initiative: asking campervans and motorhomes for a donation of £5 a night, payable online. Nearby tent pitches are still free to use but donations are gratefully accepted.

The Trust is seeking to “build a sustainable future” for the 150-strong community of West Harris. The money raised contributes to a community development fund to provide new opportunities, renewable energy and improved housing in order to help halt the trend of a declining population.

This photograph was taken on the mountainous part of Lewis and Harris (which is divided roughly into hilly Harris in the south and the flatter Lewis to the north). It was the end of the day and we were looking for a place to camp in the giant, echoing landscapes. We had been staring closely at our front wheels for a while, focused on staying upright on the steep, cracked roads. It was only when we stopped to catch our breath that we took in where we were, the sun setting on the road behind us. On reflection, there must be a metaphor there for where we were at that point in our lives. 당시, we were just happy to be there and grateful for the breather.

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