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Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides

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Cycling up the Hebrides in the summer of 2006, to record a 13-part series for BBC Radio Scotland called “On the Bike,” I had modest aims -- to stretch my legs and spend some time away from mobile phones, emails, and deadlines.

I experienced that - and so much more.

Hermetically sealed in a car the visitor moves too fast from A to B, and is underwhelmed at either end. No serendipity, no downhill descents into dodgy sheep-grids, no conversations at bus shelters, no skirling bagpipes wafting from island games. Above all no release from driving -- the normal daily habit that keeps curious minds in the vice-like grip of normal, everyday behaviour.

Instead, on the bike, I spent weeks in touch with two great natural phenomena. The sea, never more than a few miles distant. And the people, repositories of Scotland’s collective psyche.

I landed on Barra, in June, with my transit-driving companion Maxwell MacLeod. The plan was that the van would carry heavy editing equipment and extra bikes, while leap-frogging up the “Long Island” from Barra to the Butt of Lewis, I would interview folk with skills, insights and stories – the sort of people who fascinate but cannot be coaxed into a studio. So, the great and good are not featured in this book – but the characters who let me glimpse their fascinating Hebridean world are the reason I still head back every year.

ISBN 1906307865
ISBN 13 9781906307868
Language English
Number of pages 192
Publisher Luath Press Ltd.
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© 2007- Lesley Riddoch all rights reserved