This is my second attempt at writing this blog post, having somehow deleted the first draft; a rather vexing experience when I’m already behind!
Slightly slower day covering 47 miles.
06 June 2013
With my tent getting uncomfortably warm in the morning sunshine I guessed the weather was going to be good. Upon extricating myself from by sleeping bag and tent I discovered a cloudless sky, so decided against a rest day and to press on around Skye.
A few facts about Skye:
– It’s the largest of the Inner Hebrides
– It’s had people on it since the Mesolithic era
– It has some big hills called the Cuillens on it
– Norse folk lived here for a while, post there usual being a Viking antics
– Clan Macleod and Clan Donald controlled the island for a while
– There are lots of whisky distilleries
– Quite a lot of the residents speak Gaelic
– It’s very pretty, and home to lots of interesting animals and birds, including eagles and deer. Home to lots of sheep too but they’re not very interesting, and are stupid
I consumed a sizeable breakfast, showered and packed up, before bidding goodbye to Mal and the lone English motorbike tourer, setting off up the A87 towards Portree. I wanted to visit the bike shop there, the only one within a considerable distance, the next closest being in Fort William.
From Breakish I rode up to and through Dunan and Luib, with the Isles of Scalpay and Raasay just off the coast. With the isles to my right and mountains on my left, some still with snow on, the scenery was pretty fantastic.
The mild northerly wind made a few of the hills tough going around Luib and Sligachan, but I couldn’t complain about the weather. The Cuillins looked pretty impressive, dominating the centre of the island; I was glad the road mostly went around their edges.
I passed Skye’s only golf course, but was more interested in the Highland Cattle posing for photographs next to the road at one point. Loads of tourists had pulled over to take photos, so I joined them briefly. Whoever placed the cattle there could have made a pretty penny, and I was half expecting them to break into a routine, to be proceeded with a man coming round with a hat.
Post Sligachan I entered Glen Varrigall, and pedalled along the slightly undulating road, zoning out a bit thinking about movies including Black Hawk Down, V for Vendetta, and prompted by the Ludo-like cattle Labyrinth. I was interrupted from my musings my the roar of two Tornados flying over, practising some low level flying, which looked like fun as long as they didn’t hit any of the mountains. I guess they don’t have to contend with sheep lying in the road which must be a bonus.
The A87 isn’t that pleasant a road to cycle down, despite the scenery, due to the large amounts of traffic a lot of which is heavy. You’re somewhat limited on road choice though, so I rode on, passing a Sea Eagle centre on the outskirts of Portree, as well as a meadow covered in Bluebells which looked quite striking.
The Sea Eagle centre may well be worth a visit, however I was keen to get to the bike shop, and would far rather see eagles in the wild; not that they had any in the centre as far as I’m aware. I reached Portree after about 2.5 hours cycling, covering 27 miles. I thought this was alright considering the hills and stops for photos.
After a bit of cycling about I found the bike shop, hidden down some stairs, however luckily there’s another way in from the coastal side which doesn’t mean you have to lift your bike up and down awkward steps. Island Cycles took a look at my back wheel, and agreed it wasn’t ideal for the bike and load I was carrying. Given I’d paid quite a bit for it, not that I had much choice given I’d been on Orkney at the time, I was determined to get some more miles out if the damned thing. Stuart managed to straighten the S buckle out of the wheel, giving it a temporary reprieve, however I’d need to keep an eye on it still. He also found a new grub screw for my rear brake pad, which would stop it slipping out if I rolled backwards with the brake on, win! So big thank you to Island Cycles.
Post the bike shop I had a quick look around Portree, and grabbed some lunch at the Granary Cafe in the town square. I must have looked a bit of a state with my oily and battered shins, grimy hands (which I proceeded to wash thorougly), plus slightly unkempt appearance, however I managed to get a seat for a bit and watched the multitude of tourists wandering about. From what I could hear there were people from France, Germany, Holland, maybe Russia, Japan and China, with regular coaches arriving to deposit more, or ferry folks away.
Lunch consisted of a nice chicken and bacon salad, however it was a little on the small side for a cycle tourer, with the advertised crusty bread consisting of an artfully sliced small piece of soft bread, nice but not filling. This got me thinking about opening a cycling themed bar/cafe again, with appropriately sized portions available, however it might be a bit niche. I had an emergency pork pie and snickers bar to provide additional sustenance before pedalling on.
The A87 continued up to Uig, 15 or so miles away. Despite the headwind it was an easier ride than the morning’s, with gentler hills, and I got my head down pedalling through Borve, and latterly Earlish, making Uig by 16.20. The 15 miles had taken about and hour and fifteen minutes, which again I was pleased with, legs must be getting stronger.
The campsite is right down by the ferry port, and suited me just fine being fairly quiet, and with a picnic table right next to my pitch – really nice to be able to sit down somewhere other than the floor sometimes. The Bakur Bar is only 200 yards down the road, and it was altogether a nice spot in the sunshine, so I started thinking about spending an extra day there. I needed a day off, having not had a totally cycle free day since setting off over a month ago. It would be good to rest and refuel, as well as catch up on my blog which was starting to fall behind (it’s still several days behind).
I had a chat with Martin the campsite owner, passing on greetings from Island Cycles whom they knew. Unaccustomed to finishing this early I set up, grabbed a shower, and got changed into ‘civvies’. It felt a bit odd wearing my other shoes again, but I was glad to justify having lugged them all this way. I normally just wear my Shimano cycling shoes, which are fine for walking around in too, the cleat being inset, but my trainers are more comfy.
Dressed and equipped with iPad, iPhone, journal and chargers, I set off for the Bakur Bar, where I spent the rest of the day catching up on emails, eating, my blog, chatting to the bar staff, and enjoying a few pints from the Skye Brewery just across the road – not many food miles on this ale, and very tasty. The bar serves good food, in decent portion sizes, has great views, and has free wifi, perfect.
I had buy some more space on the iCloud to upload my photos, didn’t want to lose any accidentally, and it’s quite cheap. Ended the day thinking this would definitely do for a day off, and slept very well.