Saturday 21st September 2019
Another early rise, another 06:00 start to the day 🤷♂️
It was a clear morning though, I knew that meant an opportunity to catch the sunrise to the east of Portree harbour. It was only a short walk from the Airbnb and it didn’t disappoint.
Portree is so named to commemorate a visit by King James V of Scotland in 1540 to pacify the local clan chieftains. It used to take 15-days to get from Skye to Glasgow by sail, then in 1850 a weekly steamer service was started by Donald MacBrayne. By 1914, 12 paddle and 22 screw driven steamers serviced Skye and the Hebrides.
The co-op opened at 07:00, that was an opportunity to pick up fresh milk and some pastries for us back at the Airbnb. The plan was to meet at 09:00, head south to Glen Brittle for skinny dipping in the Fairy Pools 👏 👏 👏 👀.
Now, as you may recall from the last blog post, the night before had been one of partying, it was debatable whether all would turn up. They all did though, on the dot clearly not wanting to miss the sight of naked bodies!
We were soon rolling out of Portree, 6 bikes, all different sorts, adventure ones, sports tourers, out and out sports, speed triple, standard exhaust cans, loud cans and a Bella loud can! What stood out though was the common standard of highly experienced riders. All following the same line, snaking through the bends, holding the off-side for better overtake views, an impressive sight in my mirrors and an impressive sight for those at the rear.
By this time, we were getting to know each other and of course that meant accommodating idiosyncrasies 😬. Who snores, who farts, the flirts, the cougher, the faffer, who’ll be pissed first and who can’t keep their bike on the tarmac 👀.
First stop though was for breakfast and what a real treat that was. We found the Sligavhan Hotel at the junction of the A87 and the A863, non-residents were welcome. Staff were fantastic, the breakfast menu varied and the food great. Daz did confuse us a bit with his vegetarian selection whilst not being a vegetarian 🤷♂️ why would you pass on a good dose of pork?
You’re all desperate for me to get to the skinny dipping I know 😂
Well, we took the A863 and turned off for Glen Brittle at the foot of The Cuillins. The Fairy Pools are beautiful crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle and fed by a series of waterfalls from the Black Cuillin. We parked up in the car park where it became obvious that the chance of seeing flesh was diminishing. Well it was busy, and there was a howling gale blowing in from the Atlantic up Loch Brittle. So much so that I strapped my bike to a pole as I feared it’s high side would act as a sail.
Now, I wasn’t up for this hike anyway despite the thought of skinny dipping. I knew from experience that walking in biking gear and boots doesn’t really work for me and this was a good 40-minute hike to reach the stage 3 and 4 pools. We counted out three of our pals Delie, Maja and Roey (why was Roey going with the girls 🤔) and waved them off. Well it only took 10-minutes to count back in Delie and Roey! Too much for them as the strong Maja forged up the Black Cuillin.
We headed north on the A863 along the west coast of the island. The strong Atlantic breeze was forever catching my bike making cornering lines tricky. That eased as we swung inland on the A850 and then onto the single track road to Stein. The Stein Inn was a watering hole I’d found on a glorious calm summers day a few year ago, a cracking location to enjoy a beer whilst overlooking Loch Bay and Loch Dunvegan towards the Island of Harris.
Not so today though as the strong westerlies chased all but the brave indoors. We were hungry for lunch, sadly the menu choice and price didn’t really tick our boxes. We had a rest anyway along with a few refreshments. It was also an opportunity to get the bikes lined up for a couple of photographs.
We thereafter travelled north on the A87 to Uig to pick up the mountain road over to the Quiraing. This an iconic feature created by a great series of land slips off the Trotternish mountain range. In the second image below, the scale of the cars on the road demonstrate the extent of this still moving mountain feature.
What a fab day out, by this time it’s fair to say we were weary as we took the A855 south to Portree past The Old Man of Storr, another iconic mountain feature. I’d hope for a photograph, I was lead bike finding a safe stopping place was however difficult. I caught sight of one though and gave a last minute signal to those behind!
On entering the rough ground it was clear it was heavily potholed, my bike bounced, those behind saw this 😂, chose better and took evasive action. My lasting memory was Delie and Maja coming to a heavy halt to my right whilst still on the tarmac, the stare said it all 😬. I think Roey came in behind me then Jules let his feelings be know as he opened up the S1000RR to disappear over the horizon with Daz trying to keep up 😂. The photograph was crap anyway, I did apologise. Prior to landing back at Porteee we found the opportunity to grab a pic down the Sound of Rassay towards the Black Cuillin.
We freshened up, we gathered at the Airbnb, we drank and reflected on what had been a great day touring on the Isle of Skye. We had a cracking Indian meal and after two eventful nights on the town (Oban and Portree) we were ready for early 🛏.
Tomorrow is Torridon, the Bealach-Na-Ba and shenanigans at Strathcarron!