The ferry from Tarbert to Uig on Skye takes about 2 hours and for not one minute of that did it stop raining. Putting on waterproofs as we waited on the car deck to be called forward our moral was at an all time low. A few months earlier I had been asked by friends for advice on a charity Lands End to John O’Groats ride. “The only time that we can do it is over Easter, what do you think?” to which I had of course replied “Early April is madness. You can still have snow in Scotland” . They did it anyway and put their raincoats on for a whole half an hour in the two and a bit weeks that it took them. The previous year we had done it in June and had worn out new brake blocks in the first 5 days as we went through floods in the South West. So what do I know.
We had another breakfast in the B&B on the harbour front in Uig that we had used on our outward journey. We had only done 200 meters and were soaked. As I chased the last of the “full Scottish” sausages around the plate we decided to do not a single pedal stroke more that day. We would see out the storm in a caravan around the back.
There then, even on a bike tour you can have a duvet day. Which is what we did and no, it did not feel like cheating at all. Every surface of the caravan had camping and cycling equipment draped over it to dry. You almost never take photos in the rain so every trip looks better than it was. But not a single image here features any flesh of cyclist leg. It had been both cold and wet for what was almost June and this takes a lot of coping with on a touring bike. There, I have made enough excuses.
The next day was far from warm but at least started dry as we made our way along the A87. It was still dry enough for going the long way. So we turned onto the A850 towards Dunvegan and were mashing down on the pedals and full of energy and high of spirit for our day off. First, one road bike came past and then another. The third was not quite as fast and I decided to break his heart by siting on his wheel for a few miles. It started to rain of course and we pulled over to shelter in a phone box and put on foul weather gear. A few more cyclists had come by. We were in the middle of a 100 mile sportive and joined in behind a large group. We did spells on the front of the group and chatted to the riders who were all rather new to group ridding. Inevitably, we were in the center of a crash. We were faster going up hill and were going up the outside when a bike pulled out and got tangled in my rear panniers. He came down just in front of Esther who managed to swerve around. There was blood and broken equipment, both featuring in some detail on the television programme of the event a few weeks later.
We had again got cold and wet as things were sorted out and so pulled into a bar in Dunvegan to recover our composure. Two Macaroons each were a particularly Scottish treat to push the blood sugar levels up accompanied by a four person pot of tea. We let the last of the sportive go by, watching from the steamed up windows as every third rider overshot the tight bend in front of us.
The time in the pub was an excellent tactic and it was now just cold and overcast as we rejoined the A863. Up ahead the Cuillin Hills were now visible and the last of the cloud was pulling away from Loch Harport to our right. When it is not actually raining this is enjoyable and we put in some good miles in high spirits. We had lunch in he Sligacham Hotel and then turned right onto the racetrack that is the A87. There were two campsites marked on our map but neither materialised but we were told of a new site beyond the turn to the ferry. We were just about to give up and wild camp when it turned up, and very nice it was too. We managed to pitch in a field all to ourselves just before the rain returned and cooking was set up in an outbuilding. This is very close to the Skye bridge and yet is just a short after dinner stroll from stunning views and the promise once again of Otters.
The following morning we got up and in no particular hurry got on our way and arrived just in time to miss the ferry. No matter, the sky was now an unfamiliar blue if still too chilly for shorts. It was a Sunday and the weather had bought tourists and locals to the golden sands that fringe the road back to our waiting Bongo camper van.
So what had we learned? Well you could take a month or so to cover the area if you want to follow your wheels down every dead end glen. Bring clothing for late November all through the summer and always carry 5 days of food as there are few places to stock up. Our faces had got wind burn, yet nothing else had seen the light of day and Otters are only seen by other people.