On days 11 and 12, I finally reached Skye, which was my main destination; the furthest point north I would travel and the point at which my next movements were uncertain when I set off on Saturday 29th April. I was pretty happy to get to my next location, and do some exploring of Skye. In typical Dan fashion, I didn’t do much research or planning beforehand as I was more than happy to make it up as I go along.
Day 11- Striking out to Skye
I woke early, finished sorting out my gear and left Taynuilt. The ride out to Kyle of Lochalsh was due to be a long one, some of it revisiting previous ground travelled on my way to Fort William. I took the opportunity to make a few stops on that route, taking photographs as I went. This involved a little bit of doubling back a few times when I passed a good spot to take photos from. I’d learnt to not let good photo ops slip up so I was making the most of the nice weather.
When reaching Fort William, I stopped off to get some cheap petrol, and bought some picnic supplies in the form of some Curry flavour crisps, veggie samosas, sandwiches, ginger beer and onion bhajis; at times this was quite a juggling act with my helmet. In my mind the route to Kyle would be nice and chilled; picnic pt.2. I was concerned that my luggage full of all my clothes wouldn’t have space for food, but I just about fit everything in.
The ride on to Kyle was really good. I’d seen before that the road followed close to a couple of lochs so I was looking forwards to a nice picnic spot. The mountains opened up as the road rose and disappeared as the road folded back into the valleys. The first loch I passed was beautiful, but I wanted to get further to Kyle before stopping, so I rode on again.
The next loch I came to was loch Clunie. I was looking for a spot close to the shoreline so I could stop without taking all my gear off; I had no space in my luggage to store my riding gear. I pulled into one parking spot, where the coast opened out into a small projection into the water. But I decided it wasn’t the spot for me, so I shot off a few more miles till I found a better spot.
At the water’s edge, I passed by an area filled with old driftwood. It was pretty surreal and the wood looked almost burnt. I took a lot of photographs from varying angles before settling on a large smooth rocky area to relax. I must’ve easily spent an hour or more sat there eating and chilling. It was really nice but eventually the wind across the loch began to chill me and I made my way back to the bike.
From then on I headed the rest of the way to Kyle. By the time I got to see the Skye bridge in the distance, it was a little misty and gloomy. The layering of the mountains was pretty cool. Before going to my Airbnb, I took a chance to ride over the Skye bridge as the sun had returned and it felt silly to be so close and not head over. I took a photo of Garth looking over to Kyle, and near this viewing telescope found a tiny plastic model of a sportsbike. It made me wonder if it was another group of bikers who has left it there.
Day 12 - To the Storr!
Whilst the evening before had been lovely and warm, the next day was decidedly unsure of itself. It was overcast and dark looking; spotting with rain and then stopping. I can’t remember what I was faffing about at in the morning, but I feel like I set off pretty late.
I got fuelled up at an expensive garage in Kyle, behind a bunch of BMW bikes from Germany. I then headed across the Kyle bridge once more and got an experience of some of the Skye roads. Despite it being overcast I remember the roads being dry. The main road to Portree and The Storr generally hugs the outer edge of the island, and makes for some cool windy roads with some nice views. I kept stopping periodically to capture the beauty of the island in its misty form.
Also on route I located a nice little garage that sold fuel at a much more reasonable rate than Kyle; so I made a note to use this one from now on. I passed through Portree and reached the car park for The Storr at just before midday (I know, that’s such a pleb time to go walking). Despite the overcast weather the car park was almost full...well it was full but I squeezed in. I began the 15 minute faff into my hiking gear before setting off.
The walk starts pretty steep for the first part but quickly enough I reached the Old Man pinnacle which is one of the main draws to the area. On the way there was a stream of people returning to the car park. The scenery was great even with the weather being ‘sub par’. I climbed up the Old Man as vantage point, and after taking some photos i headed down a precariously steep slope. I followed on the path, past further Pinnacles until it began to curve around to the left and up onto another layer of the hills. By now it was raining steadily yet lightly, and my hood was up. I sped along the path, past a group of other walkers and made good progress, at some point I knew I was due to join the ridge and walk right up to The Storr, but initially it was tough to see the way so I made my route there. On the topmost ridge, the ground was soft and grassy which made it pleasant walking. The steady slope meant I got to the top in good time and by this point I had the whole peak to myself; most people go to see the old man and go back. I had assumed that would be a given and that it would be much quieter on route to The Storr
It was only as I was heading down that the weather began to clear and grow sunnier (typical), but it did make for some nice views. Their aren’t many ways down from The Storr, but as I was following another route I was able to locate the only ‘safe’ route. No backtracking for me!
Back at the bike, I went to explore Portree. It was charming and I got a few lovely photos. I really wanted to sample some chips, but the experience was a bit harrowing. I went to the harbour chip shop for curry and chips; the vinegar was sprayed on from what looked like a household cleaner bottle and the curry sauce was microwaved and given to me in a takeout drink carton. To say I was horrified might be an understatement.
The chips were good, and the curry sauce was nice if not proper ‘chip shop style’. But the main thought in my head was “This isn’t how they do it on the mainland”. The highlight of my trip to Portree had to be the Lemon Meringue ice cream. It was great and a really generous serving too. Anything lemony in desert I absolutely love, and meringue is my favourite.
With that trauma over, I headed back to chill at the house.