Reach for the Skye
Happy New Year and welcome back to another adventure with me, the two-wheeled Beelzebub. In this entry I head to the incredible Isle of Skye and tick yet another destination off the ‘ Big Bad Bloomin Bonkers Bikepacking Bucket List ’.
Now, for all you naysayers, you critics, non believers and…like…loving family & friends, who told me that riding Skye in December was madness…that I’d be facing absolutely savage weather…that the wind and rain would literally rip my face to shribbons…well guess what?!? Ok, I’m not sure where I’m going with this, each and every one of you were on the money. Skye was tough. I don’t think I’ve ever had to consider getting off the bike in order to push it downhill, but the headwinds were just hilarious. Nevertheless, Skye was as wonderful as it was challenging and that, my friends, is a recipe for an epic adventure.
The drive from Kent to the North of Skye in the Syncro took eighteen hours, cost about a million pounds in fuel ( the Syncro is about as economical as a Challenger Tank ) and so many espressos that I actually understood the universe, solved climate change and had a conversation with Jesus & Blackbeard. In other words it was a bloody long way. Fortunately, the campervan made the journey super comfortable and I was able to sleep snug in the high top, whilst the Instigator laid sprawled out on the Rock ‘ n ’ Roll bed usually shouting obscenities and drinking Stella.
My starting position was the beautiful Flodigarry Hotel located five miles north of the popular coastal village of Staffin ( known for its impressive array of prehistoric remains…try and find the 165 million year old dinosaur footprints on the beach! ). Of course, I wasn’t actually staying at the hotel, instead the manager had very kindly offered to store my van. Nevertheless, I did get a quick tour and was seriously blown away by the amalgamation of traditional Scottish manor and contemporary interior design, it’s stunning. ( check out the website for more: www.hotelintheskye.co.uk ).
I spent the first night plotting my route in the van and marking key destinations I wanted to visit. Fortunately, a great deal of the castles and areas of outstanding beauty are located along Skye’s breath taking coastline, allowing me to draft a route that almost circled the entire isle. Annoyingly, I had to make the decision to head back a little early after my DSLR died of suspected water damage ( I needed my full-frame up and running for work ).
The wind and rain may have been a constant challenge, but the biggest hurdle by far was the lack of daylight. In December the sun rises at 8.15am and sets around 3.30pm making mile munching incredibly difficult. Moreover, the combination of bad weather and low light meant photography & videography was challenging, whilst ultimately the conditions proved too much for my trusty Canon 6D. As a result you’ll notice the Skye blog is largely through the lens of my beat up Canon AE-1 35mm, which is just fine with me. I’ve said it time and time again, you just cannot beat shooting on film and if I were to choose a single ride to showcase the magic of 35mm perspective it would be this one. I lost the lens cap, the camera was dropped multiple times, it was battered by constant wind/rain and despite all this my twenty-pound charity shop camera captured the very essence of Skye.
So without further ado, buckle up, forget everything you know about professional exploration and enjoy a complete halfwit attempt to summit the Old Man of Storr on a loaded bikepacking rig. Yep, my body hates me.
Skye is a bikepackers paradise and a landscape I will be revisiting very soon! If you get the opportunity to visit you will NOT regret it. As you may already know, I have a few spokes loose and enjoy physical torture so chose to explore in December, but I would recommend the warmer months if you have any sense ( the cold's actually not too bad, but the lack of daylight can be frustrating ). As always thank you for reading and thus supporting my adventures. This is Bicycle Touring Apocalypse, Checking in, Checking out & completely in love with Scotland.