Day 13 – 21/7/2010 – From Isle of Rum through Skye to Strome Ferry, Wester Ross, Mainland. 34 miles cycling, 22 miles on ferry.

Route plan for the day’s journey:

I woke late in the morning, and with the ferry to catch at 3pm I decided against further exploration on Rum. Instead I relaxed in my tent and pondered my options for the rest of my bike tour. There was so much of Scotland that I wanted to see: Skye, Knoydart, Torridon and Durness all seemed worth a visit. I decided that I would head on as planned, leaving the thrills of Skye and Knoydart for another trip, and upon reaching Torridon would evaluate whether to head back home or continue to Scotland’s north coast at Durness.

While I was waiting in my tent, deliberating over my plans, a lady who was sailing in the area came over to chat and we exchanged adventure stories. She had explored the Crowlin Islands north of Skye, then sailed south to Rum, but was unable to sail because the weather was too rough. She was also a munro bagger and had climbed all 284 of Scotland’s munros (hills higher than 3000ft). She teased me that after having climbed Ben More on Mull, I now only had 283 to go to complete the set!

At lunchtime I relaxed in the castle hostel and waited for the return ferry to the mainland, which departed at 3pm. On the ferry, a Scottish National Heritage worker kindly bought me a hot chocolate while I looked after her dog – a very welcome treat! Unfortunately the weather did not improve during our crossing and it was still raining when we reached Mallaig.

I then waited to catch the ferry to Skye. Before I left, a kind lady whom I had met at the previous night’s BBQ stopped me, and gave me her number, telling me to ring her should I need somewhere to stay if I was stopping in Edinburgh. I accepted and was very grateful, although I thought I already had somewhere to stay in Edinburgh, with some friends of my parents. Food donations also poured in from partygoers I had met on Rum! Apples, oatcakes and biscuits were all gladly recieved, helping to restock supplies for the journey northward!

Upon reaching Armadale on Sleat peninsula, the “garden of Skye”, the weather was at least dry and I was determined to make some good progress in the evening. I cycled north through Skye, and all the while the skies were gradually brightening. When I reached Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye bridge, I felt an enormous sense of achievement, perhaps because it is such a landmark location. The views from the bridge were fantastic but I did not stop, instead carrying along the main road until the turnoff for Lochcarron. I pursued this road looking for a place to wild camp.

View up the Sound of Sleat from Camuscross

View up the Sound of Sleat from Camuscross

View towards Loch Alsh

View towards Loch Alsh

Evening light near Loch Alsh

Evening light near Loch Alsh

I arrived in a village called Strome Ferry (which doesn’t actually have a ferry) at about 9:30pm, asked some locals if they knew of anywhere to camp. Being so hilly, the only piece of flat land where I could pitch was in the grounds of an old burnt-out hotel surrounded by “Keep Out” signs and metal fencing. I’d been told that no-one would disturb me if I camped there, and since it was quickly getting dark, I was desperate for somewhere to sleep. I found the hidden way in, hauling my bike up the few steps and into the overgrown hotel garden, which was littered with rubble. It was not ideal, and the ground was still on a slight slope, but after trampling down an area of vegetation I managed to pitch my tent. Overnight, a northerly wind moved in, clearing the air and producing cold temperatures.

My pitch for the night (taken the following morning)

My pitch for the night (taken the following morning)

Loch Carron from Strome Ferry

Loch Carron from Strome Ferry

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