I awoke at 06:00 and immediately flexed my legs, they did not feel too bad after yesterdays exertions. Today was a Sunday and this would be my last walking section on Skye. I thought about how I should tackle this section and decided that I would drive to Portree and park my car. I would then catch a bus up to the Old Man of Storr Car park and walk back to Portree. I would then get a bus down to Sligachan and walk back to Portree, thus closing the loop around Skye. I decided to take the tent down and pack everything away and wait for the campsite gate to open at 07:00.
I drove into Portree and parked in the free car park. I had about 90 minutes to wait for the bus and thought “bugger-it” I’ll start walking now. So off I went pushing my bike along out of Portree. It happens sometimes with me, I make plans and then throw them out the window in the spur of a moment!
The road for an early Sunday morning was very quiet. Most of the road up to the Old Man is uphill, so I should get the benefits of riding my bike on the return back down to Portree. I was amazed how well my legs had recovered, ok I wouldn’t be sprinting much. I eventually reached the lochs of Loch Leathan, which were very still. It was only just short of 7 miles up to the car park and for most of the way, the sharp precipitous cliff edge of The Storr was on full view. I had climbed The Storr back in 1976 and remember a few details about it. By the time I reached the Car Park cars and tourist coaches had begun to arrive. For me this would be the best bit. I always love free-wheeling downhill at speed. On the ride back I passed the bus that I had originally planned to catch, which meant I would be about 2 hours ahead of schedule. After 40 minutes I arrived back at the car.
I changed into walking boots as the next section would involve over 3 miles of off-road walking. There appeared no immediate bus to get me down to Sligachan, other than the one I had originally planned to catch in about 2 hours. So I began cycling down the A87. It was not a very pleasant experience, as the traffic had suddenly increased and even though it was essentially downhill most of the way to Sligachan, it was tough cycling. I think I had a bit of a headwind. About half way down the road an Inter-city #915 bus passed me coming from Uig and going onto Glasgow. Grrrrrr!!! Forgot about checking for the 915. As I would be returning south later in the day I locked my bike to a fence at the Sligachan Hotel.
I set off from the hotel and crossed the main road into the Sligachan campsite. The site was very busy and most people seemed to be preparing to depart. I was looking to pick up a path which runs alongside Loch Sligachan around to the end of the public road at Peinachorrain. I eventually picked up the path and continued on along the lochside. The path was quite rough in places and had to walk along the beach at a couple of points. A few sections had bracken, which appeared finally to be dying back for this year. As I continued along the path I was accompanied by the incessant traffic noise coming across the loch from the A87.
I arrived at Peinachorrain and continued on along the B883, a very quiet road that would ultimately lead back onto the A87. I did not meet my first car until after 5 miles by which time the effects of yesterdays walk was beginning to take their toll. I passed through the small hamlets of Gedintailor, Ollach and Achnahanaid, where I met an elderly couple on bicycles and we spoke awhile. The views across the Sound of Raasay had been replaced by the looming mass of Ben Tianavaig (413m), a hill that dominates the view from Portree as well. I had thought, some time ago, about climbing this hill, but not today. As I approached the junction with the A87 I met a French lad who was backpacking around to Sligachan, I gave him a few tips and we departed. The last two miles into Portree along the verge of the A87 was no fun.
So that was it! My route around Skye was complete and I must now return to the mainland and continue my progress north. So what of Skye? Well the enduring memory is of how busy the place is and of the traffic. That aside I had two memorable walks. The first with Malkyc with the walk from Elgol over the Cuillin into Glen Brittle, stunning and dramatic scenery; the second being my overnight bothy stay at the isolated Ollisdal, a tranquil and beautiful part of Duirinish. To be fair it is not difficult on Skye to find peace, solitude and tranquility away from the masses and roads. I could have chosen better routes or taken more time to explore, but I have found that compromise while completing this challenge is a necessity sometimes. I did 15 days walking on Skye, racking up 299 miles. I hope to be back sometime.
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 = 19 miles
Total distance = 4,190 miles