I’ve just moved into a brand new flat and to offset a weight I felt was anchoring me in one place I decided to abandon Pinterest, furniture buying and home nesting and got some panniers and a train ticket to Scotland. I’ve wanted to cycle the Isle of Sky for some time and over some Thursday evening beers my friend Gareth and I decided to just bloody do it the following weekend. Very sadly since I got back my bike has been stolen. Sad times.
I’ve never been on a cycle holiday that involves carrying all your belongings with you before so I had a few days to find a pannier rack I could attach to my road bike. Luckily my local bike shop Hub Velo were very accommodating and helped me get ready for the adventure. After packing frantically after work on Friday evening, we set off to Euston via M&S for supplies for our 12-hour train journey.
After a short changeover at Edinburgh we managed another 4 hours of sleep before we woke up to sunshine, mountains and lochs. I was already sure me and Scotland were going to get on just fine. Especially when the rainbow appeared, I hadn’t even seen the rain.
Once we arrived in Fort William the sun was out and we knew we had a 70km ride to our Bed and Breakfast in Mallaig. After a coffee in the train station cafe we set off. Excitingly it was warm and within 20 minutes we were stopping to de layer, I was ins Scotland and I already had my legs out. Result. The first point of interest we knew of (I mean there was one every 10 minutes if I am honest) was Glenfinnan and its stunning Viaduct, probably now most famous for transporting Harry Potter to Hogwarts.
After 70km and pretty minimal sleep we got to Mallaig happy and tired. We dropped off our bags and cycled into the town centre for some much deserved local beers, kippers and I met a giant dog called Blue.
Sunday morning we woke up and got the first ferry over to Skye. We knew there was going to be some rain today so we were dressed and prepared for some showers. We were heading up to Portree which is the biggest town in Skye.
We were planning to have a coffee break at Broadford which was about 30K in but we were feeling good and decided to push on up to Slingchan. There were some nice climbs as we approached Ana Mull and despite the gentle but persistent rain the mountains were a great distraction. As we reached the top we had about 10KM before we got to a great pub in Slingchan and the rain clouds opened. By this time we were pretty wet through but lucky for us there was a fire, fresh coffee and lots of space to dry off for an hour as the rain subsided.
Once the rain had let off we set off on our final stretch of the ride and got into Portree as the rain eased off. We were wet and cold and after finding a B&B overlooking the harbour and a long hot shower we wanted some beer, whiskey and freshly caught seafood. Delicious.
Today was the biggest and ride I was the most excited about. We were going from Portree all the ay to the top of the island and round. It was bright sunshine with some serious headwind which meant it was a pretty hard work at times, especially at the top of the coast. This route would take us past, Old Man Storr, Kilt Rock and Trotternish.
Once at the top of Skye the headwind was relentless, it was perhaps some of the most stunning cycling of the trip but also the hardest. We had to swerve lambs in the road and a dog attack as well as the constant wind. But the winding roads and bright blue sky made it all ok.
After a well deserved lunch spot back in Portree we set back off for Slignchan, this put our ride at 100k , there were some serious climbs and killer headwind but the sun was shining and I could see the first faint lines of cycle shorts tan. We were staying in a hostel for the night and were absolutely exhausted. After a snack, some reading and a nightcap we were in bed and fast asleep before 10pm.
Final day and I was sad for it to be nearly over but also excited about having something other than lycra to wear. We were going back over the same roads so knew we would have ample time to get to our ferry ahead of hopefully the threatening downpour. We blitzed the first 30K and stopped for a coffee in Broadmarch where we Met Annie.
I ended the trip with some Haggis and a whiskey as the rain pounded around us, pretty thankful we had managed to miss this on our rides. We got the train from Fort William that evening and I woke up in London that next day and headed to work. Getting around that island with just my bike and legs was so liberating and I cannot wait to plan my next adventure (once I have replaced my bike).