I’d finally reached Skye and begun my clockwise direction around the Island’s coastline. I estimated it will take me about 15 to 20 days (that’s about 4 to 6 trips) before I am back at Kyle of Lochalsh. Skye is composed of a number of radiating peninsular’s, which will hopefully make progress easier. My first goal was to complete the Sleat Peninsular. There are a number of bus services around the Island, centred on Portree and Broadford, which I would be making use of, plus I would be taking my bicycle along.
I set off from Shropshire in the early hours to begin the long drive north. I had planned to catch the 11:50 #51 from Kyleakin to Armadale and then walk back along the road as far as Kinloch and then go off-road. I knew I could not do this in a single day, so I packed my tent etc.. Preparing for a wild camp somewhere mid-way.
because of bus times I had decided to start my walk at Armadale. It was a scorching hot day and I began to have serious reservations about whether I could manage carrying my pack the distance, especially in that heat. At Armadale Pier I stocked up on more water, adding to the weight of the pack.
I set off back up the A851, which would be the majority of the days walk. The road was quiet, punctuated only by a sudden rush of traffic from the Mallaig ferry discharging its vehicles. After only a mile my pack was digging into my shoulders, even though I had additional padded shoulder straps. I rested awhile and sought some shade at the entrance to the Sabhal Mor Ostaig (Great Barn of Ostaig) higher education college. The college delivers all its education programmes in the Gaelic tongue. I am rewarded with beautiful views across the Sound of Sleat to Knoydart and its west coast. I passed the small hamlets of Kilbeg, Kilmore, Ferindonald, Sassaig, Teangue and Isleornsay. I made frequent stops to re-adjust my pack and straps to get the balance right and stop the digging in. The main road passed above the ruins of Knock Castle (Caisteal Chamuis), the stronghold of the Clans Macleod/ Macdonald – but abandoned for centuries now.
At Loch na Dal the road began to move inland towards Broadford. I took a small private road towards Kinloch Lodge Hotel, but turned off on a forest track before I reached the hotel. I began looking for a suitable spot to pitch my tent. A small car park already had camper vans in so I continued on along a forest track. I got as far as the ancient and historic ruined township of Leitir Fura ( pronounced Lee-cheer foo-ra). The forest had been cleared from around the township and short grass allowed to grow. The last occupants of the village was back in the early 19th century and surprisingly it was not the Clearances that led to its demise, but the hard toil and struggle to survive on a rocky remote hillside. I pitched my tent alongside a ruined house and admired the breathtaking view across the Sound of Sleat to Beinn Sgritheall and Loch Hourn.
The sun was still high in the sky and it remained very hot, although a slight breeze made it comfortable. I cooked some food and had just finished eating it when the wind dropped. Almost immediately the midge rose and descended on me! I threw myself and all my stuff into the tent and spent the next hour busily killing all those that came in with me! Unfortunately I had only erected the tent once in my back garden and subsequently made a cock-up with two of the small upright poles. I scrambled outside and fixed the problem, before climbing back in and spending another hour killing more of the horde that came back in with me. It became very still and quiet outside, with the swarm of the midge on the outside tent canvas imitating the sound of gentle rain falling on the tent. I slept fitfully.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 3,832 miles