Saturday, 26 July 2014

Lifting The Veil (#ScotTour Day 4)

On Day 4, we left Elgol to cycle to Portree.

The first part of the journey saw us retracing our steps back to Broadford. This was not however a matter of seeing the same things twice, because -- you may recall -- the first time we cycled this road, we couldn't see much due to the mist and low cloud.

On this sunny Sunday, however, all was revealed.

Crossing the cattle grid leaving Elgol. 

The Highlander overlooking Elgol

I had my first opportunity to take close-up photos of Flag Irises, which were blooming in mad profusion all over Skye. I had no idea irises could be yellow. I learned later that this is one of only two species of iris that are native to the UK and the only one native to Scotland. Large "stands" of Yellow Iris in western Scotland form important feeding and breeding habitat for the endangered Corn Crake

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Elgol: A Dead End and A Gateway (#ScotTour Day 3)

This was a day off our bikes. It gets a blog post of its own nonetheless, 
because Elgol is one of my Top Reasons To Go To Skye

On arriving in Elgol on the Strathaird peninsula at the end of Day 2, we got checked into our B&B, washed and changed and then headed down to the village. And by 'down to the village', I do mean down....

Elgol lies at the end of the A8083 road from Broadford. The road ends at the pier. If you're in a car, once you reach the pier, you can only turn around and go back.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Welcome To The Misty Isle (#ScotTour Day 2)

I did not know until our second or third day on the Isle of Skye that one of the island's two nicknames is 'The Misty Isle'. (The other is 'The Winged Isle'.)

But I could have guessed that may be the case, since our first day on Skye's fair shores can be summed up as:
90% mist,
10% midges
... and 100% magic

After a breakfast of smoked salmon (because how often do you get this option?), we boarded the ferry to cross the Sleat Strait to Armadale. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Rail to Trail (#ScotTour Day 1)

"Rail-to-trail" is a term used in the USA for a program to transform disused railway lines to shared use paths for cycling and walking. The UK doesn’t have a formal national plan for that but it does happen on a site-to-site basis, where there’s enough local passion and commitment to secure funding and see the work through.

But here I’m not talking about disused railways being converted. Instead, this is a story of using the railways as a means to reach the trails you want to ride. “Let the train take the strain”, as the saying here goes.

Thanks to Virgin Trains (London to Glasgow) and Scot Rail (Glasgow to Mallaig), we were able to get to the starting point for our Scot Tour in just one day. These trains were faster and more direct – and much less exhausting – than travelling by car. We knew this from all the “train assists” we’ve done for day rides and are convinced this is the way to go for longer trips as well.

Of course, timetables and connections across several different Train Operating Companies meant we had to leave home at stupid o’clock. The alarm went off at 2.45am! 

Waiting for our first train, the 04:09 from Luton Airport Parkway. 

I've been up and down the West Coast Main Line a number of times and always enjoy the scenery, including the man-made features, especially when it's something as lovely, functional and durable as a Victorian viaduct.

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