Friday 20th September 2019
Why was I awake at 06:00, I was on holiday, I didn’t need to rise at that time 😡? I’d finished off the Prosecco before bed the night before, no doubt that featured in there somewhere!
I convinced myself it was a opportunity to climb to the viewpoint at Pulpit Hill. It sits to the south of the bay, being a bit fragile I found the climb a little onerous! My arrival was well worthwhile though, I caught the sunrise behind Ben Cruachan at the head of Loch Awe along with cracking views across the harbour and out west to the Island of Mull. Even more so as the first person I met, a dog walker, was a former colleague I’d not seen in some 20-yrs!
Needless to say I was first in for breakfast and joined soon thereafter by Maja and Jules. We met the rest of the crew just after 10:00 and set off north on the coastal route to Fort William. First up was a fuelling stop just outside of Oban then a right turn onto the A828 to cross the Connel Bridge. In times gone by vehicles would cross this point by ferry whilst the bridge carried the steam locomotives. Views from the bridge are fabulous and if you catch the tide just right, the rapids below are impressive.
We stopped for coffee at the restaurant at the top of Stalker Brae where the views over Castle Stalker were magnificent.
On these twisty roads I could really feel the weight of the bike. The right pannier had about 8-kilos of alcohol plus a Jerry can with 5-kilos of fuel! What would normally have been in there had been added to the left pannier, so it was about the same weight. Recommended weight for each is 8-kilos! That combined with long soft suspension and wheels shod with knobblies made for interesting handling!
We refreshed again at Fort William before taking the road to Mallaig where we were booked on two separate ferry crossing to Armadale on the Isle of Skye. Those booked on the later crossing decided to hold back a good bit to grab pics along the way. Maja, Jules, Roey and I made for the first ferry. Time was a bit tight so we made good progress, Roey was behind me on the Africa Twin, Maja on her ‘Bella’ Ducati Supersport S and Jules in his spanking new BMW S1000RR.
I think it’d be fair to say Jules just loved that section of road on that bike! As for me, still well laden, well I did have an experiential learning moment 😬 after which the priority was a quick mirror check to see who my wingman was at 6 o’clock position and able to tell the tale, it was Roey! He was to be hushed through alcohol that night 🤣.
On arrival at Mallaig, check-in was simple and we joined the head of the ferry queue. They put bikes on first to allow time for ratchet strapping to the deck. I’d been saying to my friends it’d just be a small ferry for the short 20-minute crossing, only to be taken aback by the arrival of the ‘Lord of the Isles’. This is the big ferry that normally sails out of Oban to Mull and the Hebridean islands. Apparently the usual ferry was out of service.
After disembarking at Armadale the four of us headed straight for Portree, the main centre of population and our home for the next two nights. What a stunning ride through the island with the Cuillin mountain range to the left and the Storr range in the distance to the right. We stopped for more pictures and it was clear there was a developing theme in respect of Bella and photographs!
We soon found our accommodation at Portree and big clap to Jules for a perfect choice. The booze was unloaded, the bags unpacked, we freshened up and were soon joined by Delie and Daz, it was much needed G&T time. There was red wine too and I’d brought along a Chardonnay however no one was really into white wine.
Soon thereafter (much sooner for some) inhibitions fell away and tongues loosened up 😀. As a special treat I’d bought along a bottle of locally distilled (Portree) ‘Misty Isle Gin’. Now this is none of your off the shelf supermarket crap and it’s fair to say my face went quite straight when I observed an overflowing tumbler of straight gin being thrown back 🤣.
It was time to hit the nightlife and see what Portree had to offer. First up was food, we found a restaurant that would serve us (always a bonus 😂), many chose scallops, my steak pie was superb. After feeling well stuffed we found live music at the Antler Bar and Grill and settled in for a night of entertainment!
Chatting to the locals, a few jigs especially with the ladies from the States who were on a hiking holiday, two of our boys were singled out by them for particular attention 👀. I promised discretion with this blog so just initials, no names; R & J 🤷♂️.
Now I can’t really recall what actually happened (something I understand to do with the clutching of testicles 😨) but in order not be be barred from licensed premises two nights in a row we quickly made a sharp exit 😳 …………………
It was a brilliant day, glorious weather, mystical scenery, great biking roads, great friendship and a damn good laugh to end the day 😍. Next up, time to explore and just be tourists for a day.