Friday, 17 January 2014

Skye Cycle Touring- Day 1

Continuing the recent theme of very late posts this one dated back to Easter last year...



My only previous trip to Skye had been the weekend of the royal wedding in an attempt to get as far away from the sycophancy as possible. We were rewarded for our unpatriotic behaviour by brilliant blue skies, low wind, and bright sun; the weather is obviously republican.

After last years coast to cost I had suggested to my friend Lisa that we head to Skye for a bit of cycle touring in one of the most spectacular landscapes in Europe. As the easter weekend approached the weather in the highlands resolutely refused much to our general consternation, to get much above freezing point.  Fortunately though, although cold temperatures were forecast there was also hints of virtually no wind and clear skies, this sealed the deal and the car was turned to point north.

There was a little extra excitement in this trip too; I had just collected a new bike from the bike shop only the day before. Replacing my ten year old metal Carrera was 7.7kg of the finest carbon fibre in a rather fetching matt black sitting in the boot just waiting to be let loose on the roads.



So pretty, and the view is not bad too!


Under Pressure!

Day 1: Broadford to Dunvegan
After a days driving and an overnight in the Broadford youth hostel we woke to a stunningly clear day with views out to the mainland over Broadford Loch. Dispite the distinct chill, the air was clear and fresh; with alacrity lightweight bags were packet, bikes were fettled, and the road was hit.

The first stage was to take the main road out of Broadford and head out towards the Sligachan Inn which has perhaps the most ridiculously scenic location of any accommodation in the UK. After about 10km the road swings round and follows the shore of Loch Ainort and you get the first great vista of the mountains of Skye with the hills of the Red Cuillin stretching along the north side of the loch.

The water is almost mirror still reflecting the grey red cones as perfect images set against a blue sky. The harsher more jagged Black Cuillin are visible at the end of the loch dusted with a light covering of snow and looking a much more fearsome proposition. Memories of my previous trip to Skye and a first experience on that ridge spring back into my mind, another reason to return here.



Lisa had never been to Skye before, I think she was impressed

Once round the head of the loch the road climbs for the first real hill of the day, its never actually that steep and the road surface is excellent. The effort of the climb is rewarded with a fast sweeping decent which carves down the hillside through a sea of brown heather towards Loch Sligachan which glints a deep blue in the distance.

We cycle along the great cone of Glamaig towering above us at a quite ridiculously steep angle as slowly the peaks of the Cuillin ridge creep out from behind its towering sides. Arriving at the Inn I quickly check they have our booking for a few days hence and we warm up with a cup of tea and a fantastic view.

 The Red Cuillin, reflected in an almost mirror still Loch Ainort


Here we leave the "main" road and take the tuning to Dunvegan tonights stop; there is a brief climb over the top of the island before we drop down to loch Harport and call in at Talisker for a nosy at the distillery (sadly no sampling of the famous fire of Skye was thought sensible) and to grab a bite of lunch. 

Feeling suitably refreshed we tackle the final climb of the day which although not that hard still requires a few rest stops to enjoy the staggering view of the whole of the Cuillin ridge laid out in the background. With its covering of snow under clear blue skies it looks absolutely perfect for a prized winter traverse possibly the finest mountaineering experiance possible in the UK.

From here its only a short dash into Dunvegan where we find that despite putting 80km under our wheels we have made much faster progress than expected;  this does not turn out to be a problem as Dunvegan turns out to have the best cake shop in the world.

 The Cuillin on  from the road to Dunvegan



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