Cyclist pedals against homelessness

Graham Steven on the challenge.
Graham Steven on the challenge.

A charity worker has cycled the length of the Hebridean Way in just three days to help tackle homelessness.

Beginning in Vatersay and finishing at the Butt of Lewis, Graham Steven from Christian charity Glasgow City Mission has clocked up more than 185 miles to raise vital funds to tackle homelessness and poverty.

Attracted by the Hebrides stunning scenery, Graham said: “I’ve always wanted to come to the Western Isles. I’ve been a keen follower of photographer Colin Prior who regularly features places like Luskentyre beach in his calendars. The scenery combined with the appeal of visiting 10 islands and using multiple causeways and ferries was too big a draw for me to miss.

“My job involves me encouraging and inspiring our supporters to fundraise and get involved to enable the work of the charity. Every other year I set myself a new challenge to do my own bit too!

I’ve been hugely encouraged and incredibly thankful to have raised over £1,000 for Glasgow City Mission which is a huge amount of money and one that will make a significant difference in the provision of practical Christian care.

I have had an incredible time and have been made to feel most welcome by locals. I’ve enjoyed meeting a lot of fellow travellers along the way too”.

The National Cycle Route 780 is a relatively new route having being officially launched last summer by Mark Beaumont.

Vatersay is the official starting point.

Graham adds, “What is lost in fanfare of a mere iron board to mark the start of this grand endeavour is made up for with a simply stunning white sandy beach and luminous green loch.

“After Barra, it was a full day in the rain and wind through the flat roads of the Uists. Despite the conditions, the scenery is stunning. I experienced some generous island hospitality too as hotels and cafes provided sustenance outwith their usual mealtime provision.

The second stretch saw sunny weather and showed off Harris at its best. Getting over the famous hills proved better than anticipated. Bizarrely I was blown up the hill which helped however coming down the other side was straight into a headwind and proved very challenging. From Leurbost on Lewis to Callanish proved almost impossible - 12 miles against the prevailing winds almost ended me!

“Now 150 miles in, day 3 is a relatively short stint from Callanish to the Butt of Lewis. Helped along with the winds on my back, I make it there for lunchtime. Exhausted, the waves crashing into the centuries old rocks below proved exhilarating and spectacular.

“I’m delighted with the achievement. Having a young family back home has meant I’ve had to cram in the trip to a short space of time. However this has added to the challenge and given me plenty of reasons to return and explore these wonderful islands properly - we truly live in a remarkable country!”

You can still add your support to Graham’s challenge by sponsoring him at www.justgiving.com/graham-steven2 or texting GHEB55 £5 to 70070.

Find out more about the life changing work of Glasgow City Mission at www.glasgowcitymission.com