Solar trailer short trips

matthewslack

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Nov 26, 2021
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I found the new thread button that was staring me in the face, so here goes with my minor tours.

I plan to have a 'few days' tour each month until I reach the sensible end of the northern UK solar biking season. Then I can turn my attention to next year's rig.

The beginning of this trip had to wait until I could break through the tiredness of my 7 long days of work and get organised, packed and under way. My day 1 ride therefore started at 16:44, and was expected to be around 20 miles 'just to get going', but the familiar Route 78 north was such easy going that I ended up 46 miles to the good, only 6 miles short of Fort William. I was helped on my way by finding my intended camp full of road mending machinery, and subsequent possible sites just seemed too early.

The most significant upgrade since my long trip is an additional solar battery. After seeing the name come up so frequently I bought a Yosepower 36V 15.6Ah battery, which now sits permanently in parallel with the 13Ah Greencell, giving me 28.6Ah, 1000Wh and 10s 11p so halving the current demand per cell. This reduces the chance of flattening the Shimano battery (read threads starting Solar Trailer for the meaning of that!), and means I can ride longer into the evening and still have plenty of battery left in case of an early start or a dull day.

Not many pictures taken.

A nice bit of evening light above Kentallen.

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My data logger is at present running at half the intended clock speed, so Wh readings must be doubled. The Purple motor channel also underreads by 2W. Hence the curious calculations below.

46 miles / 74km with 73 X 2 = 146Wh generated, 191 X 2 + 2 X 4 = 390Wh used and big solar battery still at 38.9V. One bar or about 100Wh also consumed from the Shimano battery, so 6.6Wh/ km, 10.7/mile.

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guerney

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With two cameras, you'll be able to snap pics of deer pole vaulting over the road. Where's your safety GuerneyCar Deflector? Did your Police reports lead to fines?
 
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matthewslack

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A lack of updates which I will put right over the coming days. All because I managed to trash my phone, so out of comms for a few days!

It was jolted out of its charging position in the trailer, ended up on the road overnight, and has been run over perhaps several times. These screen savers just don't work!

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After not finding it the same day and resigning myself to all the hassle of new sim, new phone and the loss of quite a few pictures, I was very relieved to find it the following morning. Now I just need a new phone.

For now, home safe, 10126 km total ridden, tent etc all dried and ready for the next trip and a wet day to sit out tomorrow.

Not much progress on the drivers I have reported, it seems that procedures and technology lag behind the excellent face to face service from my local force. Ongoing, and growing in number.

Story continues tomorrow after a good sleep!
 

guerney

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These screen savers just don't work!
:D

After not finding it the same day and resigning myself to all the hassle of new sim, new phone and the loss of quite a few pictures, I was very relieved to find it the following morning. Now I just need a new phone.
I'm amazed the battery hasn't ignited! That's the trouble with some phones - native camera apps store to phone memory only, not to SD card, which might have survived. Some third party camera apps will store photos to SD card, I can't recall which. A phone shop might perhaps be able to recover your photos, by connecting a different power source? It doesn't usually cost to enquire and get a quote.

Not much progress on the drivers I have reported, it seems that procedures and technology lag behind the excellent face to face service from my local force. Ongoing, and growing in number.
I hope you bring that first close pass to book! A small red car hit my Homcom and flipped it over last week. I couldn't catch the number plate in the dark. It sped off.
 
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matthewslack

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Nov 26, 2021
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:D



I'm amazed the battery hasn't ignited! That's the trouble with some phones - native camera apps store to phone memory only, not to SD card, which might have survived. Some third party camera apps will store photos to SD card, I can't recall which. A phone shop might perhaps be able to recover your photos, by connecting a different power source? It doesn't usually cost to enquire and get a quote.



I hope you bring that first close pass to book! A small red car hit my Homcom and flipped it over last week. I couldn't catch the number plate in the dark. It sped off.
The only damage is the smashed screen, the back, also glass, is unmarked! It turns on and off, plays the sounds during startup as well as ever. It is a Motorola, bought secondhand 3 years ago. Doesn't owe me anything. My new secondhand G30 arrived today. Unused but a year old, pristine and 128Gb so all the camera video work will get much easier.

I had already migrated pictures and videos to sd card on the old phone, so no irreplaceable data lost.
 

guerney

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The only damage is the smashed screen, the back, also glass, is unmarked! It turns on and off, plays the sounds during startup as well as ever. It is a Motorola, bought secondhand 3 years ago. Doesn't owe me anything. My new secondhand G30 arrived today. Unused but a year old, pristine and 128Gb so all the camera video work will get much easier.

I had already migrated pictures and videos to sd card on the old phone, so no irreplaceable data lost.
I do like Motorolas - they run pretty close to stock Android, and some batteries are quite a lot larger than on many other phones - the G30 has 5000mah. I always buy secondhand myself, off contract. It's utterly mental what some people end up paying for their phones, in total on contract. Then they can't sell the darn things without unlocking them, or even if, because unlocking doesn't always go well. All of my phones are either Motorolas or OnePlus - the latter's OS can be replaced quite easily, for many years of security updates and use. It's criminal how many phones no longer function simply because the manufacturer refuses to update parts of the OS. A lot of capable Kikat Android devices rather suddenly can no longer connect to the internet, will simply become landfill, because LineageOS and other alternative OSs aren't available for them either.
 

matthewslack

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Nov 26, 2021
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Finally I have access to the pictures from my just finished trip. Sim and sd card from the ex-phone now installed in my Samsung S3 tablet, and while I wait for screen protector and case for the G30 to arrive, I have a very large phone!

So winding the clock back to last Thursday morning...

I had ridden well into the evening on Wednesday, in fairly cloudy conditions, so used a fair chunk of my newly enlarged solar battery. The great breakfast sunshine was very welcome, and put back a good 100Wh before I set off on familiar ground to Fort William, Spean Bridge, Invergarry and the road towards Kyle of Lochalsh and either the road north again, or over the bridge to Skye.

Pretty good brightness in the sky, so generation keeping up with consumption but not the blue skies of early June. Pretty uneventful in the morning, lunch saw me just past the Loch Cluanie dam with just a couple of minor traffic incidents to keep me alert.

The weather got better and better as the day went on, and this route through the mountains was once again spectacular. I came upon Tiny, a forces veteran cycling non-electrically around the entire coast of the UK to raise awareness of PTSD.

The miles rolled by easily, and after about 85 of them I was in Kyle of Lochalsh, a bit early to stop but time to shop for fresh milk and treats. One big road bump later and my rack uprights snapped, leaving the rack sitting on the rear tyre! On inspection, one fracture was quite polished, so had snapped earlier in the day. The bump finished off the second one. I was able to carefully lodge the broken ends together and manage the 200m to the Co-op car park, where 20 minutes of improv with a plastic sleeve cut out of an empty milk bottle on one side, and a plastic tyre lever as a splint the other, held in place by insulation tape and cable ties had it back together.

Into the shop to find no dairy milk of any size or fat level due to supply chain issues! Oh well! I carry good T bags so that if I am forced to drink black tea, it is at least good black tea.

The lady in the Co-op knew that ths only other shop in town would likely be already closed, so I rode over the bridge to see if there was an open shop in Kyleakin. Shop, yes. Open, no.

I had been wrestling all day with the decision on which route to follow, and if the rack had not broken I would probably have carried on north towards Gairloch, where back in June I slightly regretted not stopping at a large, modern, attractive, timber clad building housing a cafe and probably much else besides.

In the event as I rode out of Kyleakin back to the roundabout I could not decide whether to go straight on and across Skye, or turn right, back over the bridge and go north. I took the right hand lane, but something made me go straight on! Both would have been a good adventure, both had a weather outlook a bit greyer than ideal, but similar, so perhaps my unconscious just preferred the new to the recently travelled.

I went on just a few miles until down a side road there was an adequate piece of verge for the tent and some hard standing opposite which helped keep the midges down.

Breakfast charging.

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View towards Ben Nevis from just before the Commando memorial.

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Lunchtime layby.

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Looking into the mountains from Dornie.

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Broken rack, both sides, and smart red repair!

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Skye bridge from Kyleakin.

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Tiny's trailer. Had a great long chat with him and his companion, and anyone on Facebook who fancies offering support via a 'like' would be appreciated. He has ridden from Plymouth, clockwise, so far.

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Evening sunshine at camp, with rather threatening clouds behind.

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matthewslack

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More story later, but first, here is my latest addition. A 3A DC-DC converter, resin encapsulated, with USB A znd micro USB output leads. I have added Anderson powerpoles on 2.5mm2 cable so that I can insert and remove into my wiring as and when and where. Stress relief to be added before use.

It states maximum input voltage of 55V, so just about OK for 48V as well as 36V systems.

This will allow me to charge my tablet, which the battery USB ports will only do at a microscopic speed, and run a Raspberry Pi should I wish to carry a programming environment around with me.

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matthewslack

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The tale of last Friday.

Looking back at my pictures, I camped just past Broadford, where there is a sizeable Co-op which back in normal times used to have sensible fuel prices. Having not bought fuel since September, I am no longer up to date on what that means! There was no milk here, either!

Part of my indecision on Thursday was driven by memories from years ago, visiting Skye to climb and scramble in the Black Cuillin, in which the drive from the bridge to the turning at Sligachan was dull. What a difference 30 years and a change of transport type makes! Nothing dull about it in skies not quite completely blue, but prettier for the brightly lit cumulus clouds. Everything up here that should be green, is, having been spared the recent 40 degree heat further south.

Ths road was fairly quiet, with plenty of places I could pull off to let traffic past. But even so, and I am of course getting used to it by now, the odd unforgivably impatient driver, this time a van overtaking blindly around the outside of their left hand bend into my face. If I had been a motorcycle doing 40mph instead of my 12, I'd be dead or in the ditch.

After the Sligachan Inn, the scenery is a little less dramatic for a while, until the first glimpses of the Trotternish highlight of the old man of Storr comes into view, then it is soon Portree, where I found Jan's hardware store - no small local shop this, but a multi branch local equivalent to something like Homebase - and learned the reason why meths for my stove is sometimes cheap and usually not! Clue - you need a 750ml bottle!

On the way to Jans I saw a sign for an artisan bakery, so that was next stop for huge thick slice of vegetable and spicy quiche, a large cheese scone and what they call a lunch bread, which is a large bread roll baked with a filling, spinach and goats cheese in mine. All rather good.

Then up the road to Uig to see if I could get a ferry across to either Harris or north Uist. Once again, more beautiful in the sunshine than I remembered from trips at car speed. And once again, an impatient driver coming close to a head on meeting with an ancient green land rover. No delay behind, and a quiet road beyond the bend ahead, but just casually pulled out as though we were on a dual carriageway. One of the closest I have yet seen.

I didn't check the ferry timetable because I prefer to let the day unfold at the pace events along the way dictate, and I knew there had been disruption due to a ferry fault. So I arrived in Uig at about 2pm with no sailing until 18:50. Plenty of energy in both me and the battery, so a chance to ride a loop over the Trotternish peninsula and then around the north, back to Uig, either for the late ferry or a camp and early ferry in the morning.

Favourable wind on the up, to the highlight of my day on Skye at the top of the steep descent to Staffin. Breathtaking views of the Quiraing nearby to the left, Staffin spread out below, and over the sea from Skye the entire Wester Ross mountain skyline.

Just before this I had a great chat with a pair of German ebikers on Reisse and Muller machines. His English was poor, but he was really interested in technical stuff, hers was much better but didn't cover technical terms! We managed! Their identical bar the colour bikes had Rohloff hub gears, belt drive, full suspension, Bosch Performance CX and two 625Wh batteries each. And stepthru frames too. One year in they had covered 6,000km in mostly long day trips. I was slightly envious, although he did suggest 5% energy loss in the Rohloff/ belt combo. I don't know if that is accurate.

Then at the viewpoint itself I met friends of friends back home, which is always good for another chinwag. Small country!

Then down the hairpins too steep to ride up to Staffin, north with a tailwind, round the top and a very stiff headwind all the way back to just above Uig. I had spotted a good camp spot earlier, and rain overnight was forecast, so I called it a very good day and was just pitched and organised before the first drops.

Throughout this trip so far I have been able to cruise in level 2, which is what I had hoped for when I started this solar adventuring. The larger battery, weather far better than I expected from the forecast and no pressure to really push the mileage mean I have been having a really easy time and covering pretty good distances.

These pictures would have been lost had I not found my broken phone!

Some of the first mountains along the road from Broadford.

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The classic view of the sourthern end of the Black Cuillin ridge. I ran the ridge in days gone by, 7 hours peak to peak.

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Trotternish from south of Portree.

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The secret of meths pricing.

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A good place to find lunch in Portree.

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Uig from on high.

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The Quiraing and the Reisse and Mullers.

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Sensational view across to the mainland. Not sure the picture quite does it justice.

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View north west from the top of Skye towards small islands and Harris and Lewis.

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Lovely sheltered bowl in which to camp. No 4G, no milk, otherwise perfect!

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WheezyRider

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More story later, but first, here is my latest addition. A 3A DC-DC converter, resin encapsulated, with USB A znd micro USB output leads. I have added Anderson powerpoles on 2.5mm2 cable so that I can insert and remove into my wiring as and when and where. Stress relief to be added before use.

It states maximum input voltage of 55V, so just about OK for 48V as well as 36V systems.

This will allow me to charge my tablet, which the battery USB ports will only do at a microscopic speed, and run a Raspberry Pi should I wish to carry a programming environment around with me.

View attachment 48349

I see you use the Anderson connectors quite a lot. I tried them once, but didn't think they were as good as XT60s in terms of making a positive connection. What do you think of Andersons vs. XT60s?
 

matthewslack

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Nov 26, 2021
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I see you use the Anderson connectors quite a lot. I tried them once, but didn't think they were as good as XT60s in terms of making a positive connection. What do you think of Andersons vs. XT60s?
I haven't used XT60s! I found Andersons before I got involved with ebikes and have just carried on with them. Not had any issues yet. I like the modularity and the 10 or so colours available when supply chain issues allow. Mine are genuine Anderson, some clones are said to be quite poor.
 
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cyclebuddy

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What I think would be a really useful addition to your travel blog would be some kind of basic map to show each leg of your journey. Having spent 10 years living in Scotland I do recognise some of the names of the places you're travelling through and roughly where you are, but some kind of simple map would put your route clearly into context for those that don't have that familiarity. It's just a suggestion - I don't know how easy that would be for you, and I'm not trying to make more work for you!

How are your SunPower panels holding up with flexing/ the rigours of travel?
 

matthewslack

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Nov 26, 2021
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What I think would be a really useful addition to your travel blog would be some kind of basic map to show each leg of your journey. Having spent 10 years living in Scotland I do recognise some of the names of the places you're travelling through and roughly where you are, but some kind of simple map would put your route clearly into context for those that don't have that familiarity. It's just a suggestion - I don't know how easy that would be for you, and I'm not trying to make more work for you!

How are your SunPower panels holding up with flexing/ the rigours of travel?
Yes, a map would be good. I want a paper map of suitable scale on which I can mark route and overnight stops, which can then hang beside the chart from 1997 showing my GB sailing circumnavigation. I thought I had found one, but it turned out to show cycle paths/routes only so big gaps!

The panels and all electrics have given absolutely no issues, perhaps partly down to having suspension on the trailer. Only mechanical things have failed, some just routine wear and tear like brake pads, tyres, chain, others not designed for 10,000km in a year like the first freehub, and others not designed for 10,000km lifetime because mostly they don't cover that distance in the loaded state. That covers my trailer axle and rear bike rack. Most users would probably get years out of them, but my rack is carrying 15kg or so most of the time, and the trailer about 35kg. So earlier failures to be expected.
 

matthewslack

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And so to last Saturday.

The forecast was for overnight rain to become drizzle and to dry up by lunchtime, but even at breakfast time it was heavy overcast with a dim sun trying to break through. I packed unhurriedly but with the sense of purpose that comes from not knowing the ferry times on a route where there are only three departures a day!

I struck lucky, a 10:30 sailing to Tarbet on Harris was the next boat. Time for a quick bacon roll and tea in the cafe, a realisation that there a Mace shop attached from which I could have had fresh milk the night before (open until 8pm) if I had rolled down the hill to check, and lots of curious tourists eager to chat about my bike.

Then onto the good ship Hebrides for a voyage to the islands where my first long ebike trip happened just 11 months ago. Around two hours later I rode a couple of laps about Tarbet's one way system, first for food then seeking the food festival which I couldn't find! I think I was too busy riding slowly on steep slopes with pedestrians and vehicles around to see the signs.

A quick picture stop at the distillery, a routing decision and onward to the south. South Harris has a big road around the west, with all the amazing beaches, and an intricate network of tiny, bendy, swoopy roads around the east side. My last visit was constrained by charging arrangements and so minimum distance. This time I could afford to ride as far as I liked, so I set out to do a lap of the whole of South Harris.

A steep climb out of Tarbet with great views over the harbour and rocky hills behind, then a few miles of the big road lead to the first opportunity to join the small 'golden road'. Here was Lorna's Larder (or was it Linda?) where Lorna in red, Cara in green and the lady whose name I was unable to guess in purple served burgers made from local sources and many other tasty delights.

Well fed I continued on, via a chat with a pair of old timers from Glasgow on the same mission but by small car, past two waiting German touring cyclists, mother and daughter, over the brow of the hill to the father and rather young son, perhaps 7 or 8 years old, and taking a moment on probably the last steep hill of his arduous day.

We chatted a long time about their touring adventure, my bike and whether the mainland roads would allow them to ride in safety back from the ferry at Ullapool to their car in Oban. Sadly from what I have seen the answer is no. The 'single track with passing places' roads are very manageable for such a group, as other traffic expects to stop to pass, and they clearly occupy the road as a group. The close passes and bad overtaking even when the road is quiet mean that the A835 from Ullapool to Inverness would not be safe, let alone the roads onward to link up with route 78 to Oban. I can feel a letter to the First Minister coming on.

Anyway, onward through more great scenery and a gradually brightening afternoon to the shop in Leverburgh in time for the first fresh milk in three days and everything I might need for the morning. Some parts of these islands including Harris don't open on Sundays.

By now the sun had broken through and I was headed back north on the west side of south Harris, drinking in the views of salt marsh patterns, sea, sand, islands, hills, and as well as all those natural things, quite a few rather attractive unusual houses!

It was shortly after this that tragedy struck my phone, and it leapt from its charging position in the trailer. Unnoticed until the next time I stopped to take a picture about two miles later. I rode up and down the road, asked at a house to call it, but just got voicemail, and wondered how I could have been so careless, how I would manage without an alarm clock for that 5am start on the last day critical for catching the ferry back to work, how many pictures I might have lost, how all the new two part authentications use that phone and so on!

So a short distance further on to camp in sight of the sun setting over sea, sand and Taransay, leaving a final search for the morning. I assumed that if I couldn't see it lying on the road, either it had been picked up, or it wasn't on the road. Nothing more to be done tonight. And so to bed.

Morning cloud.

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Dramatic morning light with showers elsewhere.

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Uig ferry terminal, before the chatty visitors noticed me!

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Approaching Tarbet on Harris.
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And closer in.

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I couldn't drink a whole one.

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Looking down over Tarbet. Harris has a lot of bare glacier scrubbed rock.

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Lunch at Lorna's. They are off grid, but generator rather than renewables. A solar roof and a Proven 2.5kW would sort them out in this location!

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Rural recycling!

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The golden road is this good all the way.

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More pictures in a moment, to celebrate my ex-phone's last hours!
 
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matthewslack

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Looking north across the rugged, rocky landscape of the east side of south Harris.

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Not often seen, these are the famous, almost mythical, Harris rock eating sheep. There's nothing else - how else would they survive?

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Nice light on the land in the sea.

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First sight of the glorious sands of west south Harris.

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Patterns in the salt marsh.

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One face of an amazing house.

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And just around the corner, the long side.

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And it's view.

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And it's neighbour.

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The last picture ever on that phone! What a place to go! Looking north to the north Harris hills from west coast of Harris.

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matthewslack

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One of my overtaking incidents fro Skye. The white line pattern is 6m white, 3m gap, so I estimate the fronts of the land rover and the car to be 39m apart, with a closing speed of maybe 80mph.

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Nealh

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Car driver obviously a complete KNOB, what is up with these mortons.
 
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matthewslack

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I will write up the awesome ride I had down the Outer Hebrides from just south of Luskentyre on Harris to my previously used beachside camp on Barra as soon as I manage to reconnect to the GoPro I used as a stills camera that day. The story needs the pictures! In ths meantime, another overtaking incident, from the later days of my long trip. Same white line dimensions.

Here about 35 to 40 metres apart.

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And half a second later, rather closer.

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This is closer than most, but incidents like this happen every time I ride on an A road. This was a quiet Sunday on a minor A road at 17:30 with no other vehicles anywhere near.
 
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egroover

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I think you'd benefit from one of these types of signs on the back of the trailer , might make the knobs think twice before the stupid overtakes if they think they'll be captured on camera and plod might get to see it
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