Organisers of the 2019 Butt to Barra charity cycle have made a plea for care from drivers, over the three days of their annual epic cycle the length of the Western Isles.

A group of 32 cyclists will set off from the Butt of Lewis lighthouse at 8am tomorrow (Wednesday July 10th), heading for the pier in Castlebay, Barra over a three-day cycle. The 175-mile route is split down into sections, with dedicated rest and overnight stops, and is all on main roads – hence the plea for driver patience.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) they’ll leave Ness at 8am, make a coffee stop at Barvas and reach Stornoway for lunch at the Hub café, before continuing via Balallan, where Kinloch Historical Society are donating tea and refreshments. Then the group head onwards to Tarbert, to spend the night in the village hall.

On Thursday, an early start takes them from Tarbert down the west side of Harris and they’ll stop at Scarista for a break, reaching Leverburgh for lunch in the church hall before taking the lunchtime ferry to Berneray. Afternoon tea is being donated by Hamersay House in Lochmaddy and the team will spend the night in Balivanich Hall.

Friday sees a 7am start from Balivanich, coffee at the Borrodale Hotel and lunch at Am Politician in Eriskay, before the ferry across to Ardmhor and the last leg down the west side of Barra. They’re hoping for a 3.30pm finish at Castlebay ferry terminal and will then spend the night at Castlebay Hall, with Castlebay Hotel providing a supper and some celebrations very likely indeed!

Cyclist Murdo Louie Macdonald – one of three SSE employees who are doing the distance – said the group plan to ride as close together as possible without impeding traffic. He told welovestornoway.com today (Tuesday): “We’ll be riding together, but not three abreast or anything like that. Our plan is not to create any difficulty for traffic and we will do what we can to minimise the inconvenience, but in return we ask that drivers give us a wee bit of leeway and respect as we ride.”

Three vehicles will accompany the riders to ensure safety and support on the route, including the mobile repair service operated by Alistair Glover of Bespoke Bicycles. There are also first-aiders among the team in case of any scrapes.

The cyclists set a fundraising target of £5,000 on their JustGiving team fundraising page (https://www.justgiving.com/teams/butt2barra2019) and bust through the £10,000 mark on Monday this week. Some of the team are running their own fundraising pages, while others are sticking to paper sponsor forms, and there will be buckets available during the ride for people to make a donation as they pass.

They’re raising funds for the Hebridean Men’s Cancer Group, Bethesda and Crossroads Lewis, with each team member choosing their preferred charity.


The only thing not planned to the last detail is the weather, and the ride goes on regardless of what is thrown at them. Murdo Louie said: “The weather is a challenge but I don’t think the wind’s going to be too much of a problem this year. It’s not so good when it rains, because whatever you wear, it finds its way through and we do end up soaked.”

The picture shows riders during Butt to Barra 2018, with their support team following on.