Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 11 Plockton to Armadale - Isle of Skye Tuesday 12th July 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 11 Plockton to Armadale - Isle of Skye 51km 638m ascent
Cumulative: 890km 10726m ascent Ferries 9 Islands 14 Bridge 1
The Skye Bridge
After Bealach na Ba yesterday, it's just a short trip to Skye today, that should be easy. A rest day really.

The Original Skye Boat Song

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing
Onward! the sailors cry
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye

Loud the winds howl, loud the waves roar
Thunderclaps rend the air
Baffled, our foes stand by the shore
Follow they will not dare

We last visited Skye, in the Inner Hebrides, in May 1989. I remember the date as we were expecting our first daughter in the November and we finally climbed Inaccessible Pinnacle, or more fondly In Pinn, in the Black Cuillins, on a Bank Holiday weekend when 4 months pregnant. We had had several failed attempts the week we were in Glenbrittle on honeymoon in 1988, when the Cuillin ridge had been shrouded the entire week.  We abseiled off the top in a blizzard. Our friends had a dog and I think they thought I'd stay with the dog and wimp out of the climb! We definitely had to wait for the ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Kyleakin then.

We're not planning much on Skye this trip as it seems the roads are pretty busy and it's more of a mountaineering island than a cycling island. Well really there just wasn't time to do everything.
Black Cuillins
This was our other scheduled short/rest day(Vatersay was the other) after the exertions of the last 3 days especially. My stomach doesn't feel good, I have to stop before we get out of Plockton. We plod along to Kyle of Lochalsh, I'm not keeping up with Steve but great views towards Skye and the Cuillins.
Cuillin Ridge, Skye.
We weave along the coast towards Kyle in very dull and drizzly weather.
Plockton and Kyle Free Church
Before reaching Kyle of Lochalsh proper we stopped at the grottiest of grotty shops to try and buy something for dinner, we turned the corner and ran into a huge Co-Op...that never used to be there either! Thank goodness, bought some light food that I thought I may be able to stomach. Today I was not feeling the love and just wanted to get it done. It was midday already and only 10km under our belts. Today we are not cyclists.
Lochalsh Hotel and Skye Bridge
The Skye bridge was infamous for being the most expensive toll mile in the whole of Europe. Opened in 1994, the toll was £11.40. After serious local revolt, and prison for some, the toll was abolished in 2004. Since 2008 tolls on all bridges in Scotland have been abolihed. We flog over the bridge in the traffic towards Broadfoot and take a hanger left towards Sleat, Skye's southern peninsular. It's quite bleak moorland, and it didn't feel flat like the map contours said. it was nice and quiet though.
Heading from Broadfoot towards Sleat
I was making a right dog's dinner of today. It genuinely felt every kilometre was hard fought, there was a stiff headwind. It dried up enough to wander down to the shore of Loch nan Dubhrachan (isn't Stava wonderful for looking up places on your route!) Wander was more of a 'bog trot' trying to avoid wet feet! We huddled on a tussock for a while and I ate my Co op falafel salad hoping it would settle my stomach. I knew I had to eat something otherwise I would flake even more! I think a small snooze may have ensued. it really was a hard day to motivate ourselves.

We roused ourselves and pushed on to Armadale, our destination. Past the Clan McDonald Centre where after seeing very few cars there were suddenly coach loads of tourists. We're not tourists of course, ha ha! We flew down into Armadale and turned towards the pier. I really thought we would either do a loop of Sleat peninsular or push on to Aird of Sleat and back at least to extend our day. We didn't want to. So we didn't.
Cal Mac steaming into Armadale from Mallaig
It was dry enough to sit outside, the sun peeped through very briefly. Steve pretended he was on holiday and had his first (and only) ice cream! I had a latte and shivered. Just not me at all!
Coffee and ice cream at Armadale pier
The Flora Macdonald Hostel was not in Armadale, we had passed the turn 5km before ...aggh. Another sodding hill. But that was nothing. we turned off the road towards the hostel and the track ramped up and up, no wonder, it says 22% at one point. Yes we walked that bit and eventually found our hostel. It was (almost!) worth it. Great setting and it was relatively early, about 4.30pm. We had our own bunk room again, sharing a kitchen with two other rooms. Elderly hostellers we are. A spot of bike maintenance, and the day's lycra washed and blowing in the breeze rather than festering in front of convector heaters. Large mugs of tea. What a lovely view towards the mainland. Tonight we had fresh tortellini and tomato sauce with a packet of grated parmesan. Never did instant co op food taste so good, well I could eat it and not feel ill. Knitting may have happened! It was a very good hostel.
Bike maintenace
View from Flora Macdonald Hostel near Armadale
A totally gratuitous shot of Doris (my bike) enjoying the flowers
Weather watching
Rest day ha ha...I made a right dogs dinner of that. I think we're feeling the last three days eventhough nothing aches.
Don't scroll further....
My stupid burnt legs
Today I rode in shorts, but I didn't have any suncream on (I always put factor 50 on when riding in shorts, even in the rain). It was overcast and 16 degress max. The sun was shining briefly later on. I burnt, and I was quite sore in the evning. Just as well my legs are revolting at the best of times!

So a belly ache and burnt legs day. Again we were incredibly lucky that illness stuck on a day when it could be coped with. Tomorrow is another big day to the mythical Ardnamurchan peninsular. Not sure at the moment if I can do it.

Touring Tips in Scotland

1 Listen to your body, and always wear Factor 50.

2 The most awful of climbs nearly always results in a view to drink in. What a reward.

3 Tomorrow is another day/

Tour d'Ecosse quick links:

Day 1 Isle of Arran and a little Mull of Kintyre
Day 2 Inner Hebrides: Isles of Islay and Jura
Day 3 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Jura-Tayvallich to Oban
Day 4 Oban to Outer Hebrides: Barra and Vatersay
Day 5 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Barra Eriskay South Uist Benbecula Grimsay North Uist Beneray and Harris
Day 6 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Harris and Lewis to Callanish Stones
Day 7 Outer Hebrides: Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool
Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch
Day 9 Gairloch to Shieldaig - Applecross Peninsula
Day 10 Bealach na Bà from Applecross to Plockton
Day 11 Plockton to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale
Day 12 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale to Ardnamurchan
Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Mull to Oban to Loch Melfort
Day 14 Loch Melfort to Tarbert, Loch Fyne
Day 15 Tarbert Loch Fyne to Ardrossan THE END!

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