Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Luck continues...

Part one here...
It might make a little more sense if you read this first.... But your choice; naturally...
http://broadviewfromasmallfarm.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/too-lucky-for-words.html



This morn dawned; unfeasibly clear...

Skywards that is; interior of skull perhaps not quite so crystalline.

Where next; if anywhere?

Could just sit here; and stare.


Contemplating the onwards journey... There's no going back now....




What is it; with always having to move forwards?

Always restless; incurably curious; having to go exploring; over the next hill...

Its is great to have options. But it also helps to have the energy; and impetus to make full use of those choices...

So perhaps Broadford a few miles up the road, from Camus Croise; might be managed.

At least for provisioning, and a healthy breakfast - Yes really - double helpings of every salad; and vegetable on offer...

The road itself was very broad; beautifully smooth, and almost empty.

A highway such as this can feel slow going; the vanishing point; is always so far distant; are we getting anywhere?

I'd probably not be well suited to flatland touring; across the endless steppes; or plains; of far off somewhere.


How many Co op stores have this kind of backdrop...


Feeling a trifle better now; good food (and coffee) nearly always help;  so mayhap I could make it to Sligachan?

 Midway across this largeish isle. There's a campsite there, and a well appointed hostelry.... Hmmn?

But first, to get there. The main road across Skye isn't at all cyclist friendly.

 The gradients aren't the problem; its a modern road; designed and paid for by the EU.
 Perfectly well constructed .... But on most days heavy lorries; and tour buses; ply the single carriageway. There can be whole flotillas of them; bunched up on the hills.


They quite understandably don't want to have to lose momentum; on the long climbs.
 Tricky to pass; without imperilling a laden cyclist.



I'd cycled this route in reverse; one busy Friday afternoon some years back.

 And by the end of that travail; I had fully exhausted my supply of expressive hand gestures; bestowed upon the drivers of assorted heavy goods vehicles....

 Not very lady-like.

This Sunday morning; the traffic was tolerable, but still not what you'd call fun.




Empty road for now, but not for long... There's only a stony culvert to receive a hapless cyclist.
Plus  I'm  not as heavily laden as some... Quick good folks of Skye apply for funding for a cycle lane before its too late...
Cyclists are good for trade; we're a hungry bunch...




Sligachan - Pit stop for refreshment; but too early to end this days travel.

Leaving aside traffic grumbles; there was clearly no arguing with the weather ... I'm still feeling slightly guilty that I wasn't making the most of it by scampering about on The Red Cullin...

Hopefully many others were... 





Descent towards Portree; blue skies momentarily: having the decency to give it a rest...
the rocky formations of Northern Skye ; Trotternish ridge hazily outlined, faintly showing The Old Man of Storr.
That area also worth a visit ; but better on foot perhaps.




This girl sure knows how to treat herself - Birthday yoghurt by the worryingly slantsome harbour at Portree...

Hope it hasn't emptied itself.

Most marvellous fish and chips available here too.






Very pleasant campsite, up the hill out of town, The best hot showers.

Personally I can't abide a tepid dribble; I'd rather stay stinky...

 And a dryer so I could risk washing my trousers... Waiting for them to dry was the only time my waterproof ones had an outing for the whole trip..... Quite a la mode for that evenings excursion back into town...



Happy Birthday tome; to me... Ms Peaplant, understood the need for a lightweight parcel to port this far...
What could it be,,,,,? The suspenders were killing me.. but first; a brew.





Next day; thoroughly revived by mussels; foraged from the harbour side the previous night.

( Harbour side restaurant - that is... Leaving the hard work to others for a change - this is holidays)

Also took the time to craft some uncharacteristically forward thinking arrangements, re my return trip.


 In addition to giving the bike a treat, of replacement brake blocks, and replenished tubes. There's a freindly, efficient, and well stocked bike shop here...

Finally; all admin attended to; food supplies restocked (theres a Co op here too) off on the road to Uig; another ferry to catch....



Splendid views; leaving Uig. Will this fine clime ever let up...?



I like cows; they are very good listeners; and have comfortingly big; understanding heads.

Still reeling somewhat from the ferry. but this hairy lady came to inspect my 'rig'.

Someone else had similarly approved my propped steed in Portree that morning... Almost made me feel like an actual bikepacker....

Even in the absence of a carefully tended beard.




Pitched out on the end of teensy Scalpay.

Upon enquiring of a freindly fence-painter as to the whereabouts of potable water for that evenings repast ( dried meal at the ready)
 I was cheerily informed that in addition to basic liquid refreshments being available on the fishermans wharf; there was also A - Bistro;  really? This far out ?

But yes bizarrely; and I'm not one to churlishly forego the chance to support a local enterprise..

I know most 'normal' people would have gleaned this kind of information from somewhere like 'trip advisor'. but surely; that takes out half of the surprise factor..

Hake and Scallops... Well what's a girl to do, with an offer such as that?




Be well advised; there is good food to be had here.



Glamour shot next morning....Snapped by a lady jogger on the Scalpay bridge, making my way west again..
   



A tourers' dream ; clear roads; well surfaced; views sweet enough to make you cry; bright sun; but not too hot to exert oneself.... 



I'd heard that there was a very scenic coastal walk from the Scalpay road out to Rhenigidale.

So secreted velocipede behind a handy hutlet and set out...

Walking any distance felt a tad weird after endless pedalling... I'd been neglecting doing my stretches properly.... Bad Yogi; not exactly practising what I preach.

Not in the least disappointed; by the views though.

 There are some fair pulls up and down, on this path, and my right knee objects strongly to slidey downhills, particularly without walking poles. But then you can't take everything can you?



Beach en route ...





This 2 hr side detour has much to recommend it; if you have the time; and perhaps the sunshine to accompany.

Apparently the children of Rhenigidale used to make this trek weekly to get to school, before an inland road was built. What a walk to school! - on a good day that is.



There's a picturesque; if slightly sad ruined village along the way. These isles were once far more populous than now.

 On a day such as this its hard to imagine why one would wish to live anywhere else.
But I'm sure there are endless drear days of winter; when it feels as if the sun might never return. 


One of my favourite quotes from a certain William Bryson...

 "Living in the UK, in winter, is mostly like living inside Tupperware"

Not today it isn't mate... Further attacks of the Smaug.





Sore ankles get a good soaking. before the next leg.

There is a hostel at Rhenigidale, and a more circular route which could have been taken; to encompass some local hills   ... But time always presses.

I did even have a plan; of sorts....


The main road out of Tarbert heading North; before I veer sharply west; more familiar territory to me.....
 There is an eerie abandoned chimney on this road; a left over from a proposed whaling station. A reminder of more brutal times, when economics prevailed over all..

There is also a bizarrely situated tennis court, defiantly bulldozed out of the moorland...

"We shall play racket sports...Come what may"



The serpentine switchback road to Hushinish.

 Only sixteen miles; but they do go on a bit... Stiff thigh challenging climbs; only to be cast back down to sea level as the road makes its way along this south facing portion of coast. as best it can.

Looking back towards Tarbert; this is one of those classic, hills dropping straight down into the ocean scenarios...

I'd like to come back and walk the tops out to the end north of this route.... And South Harris is definitely worth revisiting....  Another time.

The road passes a primary school with possibly the best playground view in the whole of the UK.
Must be very hard not to stare dreamily out of the window in dull lessons..



My plan was to reach the haven of Hushinish Hamlet before nightfall. I knew there was a good pitch there. and basic facilities in the form of a tap and loo.

But the most pressing part was my desire to stay in one place for two nights, escape the faff of packing and unpacking.

A kind of mini holiday; within a holiday.

A bike computer could have helped here; just to know how much further, there was to go....

From the last visit; I had it in my head that Amhuinnsuidhe Castle was about half way along the whole route...

 Mappage for this route? Not totally certain what happened there. Jettisoned in a fit of overzealous load lightening, perhaps?

Anyway; there's only one road; it would be pretty tricky to get lost...

So after passing said fortification; when the sun was only three inches off the horizon; I had almost resigned myself to camping in a sheep infested bog...

 No great peril there; but a disappointment; to set only one goal; and then fail at that..





Do cattle watch the sun go down; and wonder?
This one was probs a bit too busy admiring my rig....


So imagine my delight; upon rounding this corner; and es-pieing this stretch of pinkish strand....





"Like coming home" 
On a previous trip I had decided to haul the tentage out to here purely on a whimsical whim.... 

To satisfy what some might call a childish love of punnage... You see the Islet in the background is called Scarp ; and so is the tent....

This small island was once the scene of an unsuccessful attempts to introduce mail delivery by rocket...
Just larking about with explosives most likely; but it had to be dignified with serious purpose.



Rather boringly (for you guys) dawn broke clear... Yawn yawn... From me too; turn over and snooze... 
Cos' I dont have to take down the tent... a day off of domestic duties... 
Some exploring on foot to be done, however...



A well defined path follows the coast northwards from here, for the first twenty minutes, then it appears that innovative walkers; or possibly sheep have created about ten different routes. but you'd be hard pushed to get lost; thats the thing with coast paths. kepp the wet stuff to one side its hard to go wrong...



It's mine; all mine I tell you ....... I Can do cartwheels to the horizon and back; and there's no one in sight to look askance at such undignified displays of exuberance from a middle aged woman... 





Just look at the strata in these pebbles....! These are all mine too; by the way...




Some proper grown ups did turn up a bit later (snore) so I felt it necessary to tone things down a bit.... And get the kite out....



Its my beach; and I'll muck about if I want to....


It'll have to do..




Quite pleased with this shot..... Foot prints show that arches of feet are still reasonably well lifted....
 N.B. Don't take any notice of any of that "Picturesque yoga on a sandy beach" malarkey...
It looks pretty in the photos; but soft sand provides a very poor surface for really being aware of your footwork..





Its all rather fine; no sign of hoomankind as far as the eye can see....


Another gratuitous kite shot..




This is not the way up from the beach.... But it is a way.... Gives one a chance to inspect the geology up close...





Making more friends along the way.... Despite their fearsome looks; highland cattle are proper softies.




Pre-dinner sun-downer..... Messing up the beach with my undirected wanderings again..






Tempting to nip over to the Scarps name-sake, but thankfully I'm no boatswoman, nor neither a thief...

The return cycle to Tarbert was somewhat truncated by another puncture.

I had just enough time to fix it, and get to the ferry, but it was rather windy for such an enterprise.

And then a kindly angel happened by. My fee for motorised transportation; with ailing velocipede; to Tarbert; was coffee; and a gossip there in The Harris Hotel.

 The lady in question has been running a croft with accomodation.

Out near Hushinish for the last few years. After upping sticks from her rather more pedestrian life down sout.. A hard but rewarding choice by all accounts.... She wouldn't go back.




Last ferry ride.... A wistful moment... Then I took advantage of less windy conditions and went below deck to fix that puncture in comfort.




Uig to Portree felt much further than  going in the opposite direction.
Due to the hills ? A head wind ?  An aversion to easterly travel?







Another evening at Portree campsite... Lured back by those glorious hot showers.....

I really didn't fancy cycling back to Broadford along that road. So before setting off to Harris I'd arranged for a helpful young man to port me n my bike back by van.

As it turned out, his van wasn't working; but a stand in was as promised at the ready...

David From Portree outdoors shop 'Inside Out' - "Go there; buy nice things" - and receive a warm and helpful welcome.

David expressed a desire to grow some food. An aspiration of his grandfather upon arrival on Skye from the mainland.
And now; he very much felt an urge to act upon it....
I agreed that the time to start growing food is now..

I'll have to go back to check on progress...

Could the wind power be used to extend the season, for covered cropping? Then be combined with a bit of carefully made compost and other fertility...
 Go on have a go. The market is here, on the West Coast and Islands I've done an extensive two week survey...



Spotted from the Skye bridge... A boating friend informed me that they were probably 'just showing off' I couldn't understand why they were spraying the water? Not wet enough already//


Dropped at Broadford; the  mountain rescue pot duly stuffed with notes; as David wouldn't take direct recompense for his troubles...

Then back towards the mainland; hard to leave Skye; but this last day at least was also very kind.





Clouds are great; blue skies too. Both together; even better.




Thankfully I realised just in time; I'd not yet had an ice cream - remedied at picturesque Plockton...
Tisn't really a holibob without ice-cream...

Then headed up the coast to stay at Gerry's Hostel near Acknashellac...
 I hadn't known it was 'legendary' but can now confidently report that after a temporary closure, and refurbishment; it now in the hands of it's namesakes son; continues to be a most welcoming stopping place.

There's even a tiny shoplet, selling one of my guilty pleasures... Tinned potatoes - yes I know - very odd - but if we can't indulge any of our our strange proclivities on holiday...





Teensy Achnashellac station; Seven o'clock dark morning request stop.... Hi' vis jacket and a torch to wave down the train.

After two totally dry weeks, I'm now back on the train towards Inverness first. After an hour it starts to chuck it down..






Changing trains at Inverness... So far so good; then unbeknownst to me; engineering works had put paid to my returning via the planned East Coast line; reticketed through Birmingham instead...

 Made scant difference to me timewise. But reminds one just how unpredictable (some might say unreliable) UK trains can be... 

Foreign visitors be warned... Come armed with flexibilty; a sense of humour; and sandwiches....  You will undoubtedly get somewhere; but just where that is; and when is not totally in your control..

Oh and at time of writing; you have to book the (limited spaces) stowage for your bike seperately to your personal online booked ticket (by phoning  each individual train operator of which there can be several on a journey of this length) ..... its almost like they're trying to put us cyclists off going by train...*

*Counterproductive in my case. I'll just see it as a challenge.



Reaching Devon some time after ten at night; a fellow passenger was also alighting at Exeter with a bicycle... She had her face painted as a cat; off to do some thesping apparently. it somehow seemed appropriate...

She also interviewed me about my trip; and resolved to do something similar.
So don't be surprised at reports of more 'crazy ladies' on Scottish beaches; it could be turning into something of an infestation...

Enthusiastic welcome from 'the ladies'...

Home again; home again...

The farmlet seems to have survived; or even thrived; in my absence..

Left in several pairs of very capable; and willing hands; many thanks due to you; good people of the Vale....

I owe you all - as ever.


October is a just about acceptable time for shimmying off for two weeks from a vegetable farm; there's still plenty to harvest for the veg boxes. And then it's diving straight back into planting the last of the winter salads in the polytunnels,,

And; in addition I have quite literally cycled the rr's out of my t*ouse*s..

I'll spare you that picture.


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