February 27, 2023
Hogwarts Express To Isle of Skye
It has been a while since we last did a long day run on the bikes. The last big trip was October 2021 when we did the NC500 in a day for a local kids’ charity! Time flies by quick and trying to get dates that suit everyone is not easy as you get older. We thought about heading to the Lake District, but that would be at least a 3 day trip and could not get dates to suit everyone, so we opted to stay in Scotland and head over to Skye.
Andy set about making a route linking the best biking roads that we could incorporate into heading south down to Fort William, then across Glenfinnan, over to Mallaig to catch the ferry over to Isle of Skye. The route would work out to be 420 miles from Ullapool.
With the date set in stone we would be going regardless of the weather, unless the ferry was cancelled, and we all know the issues with the CalMac ferries, so fingers crossed.
As it got closer to the date planned, the week before, the weather was looking great for the Saturday and then Friday, we get a yellow weather warning for possible heavy rain and thunderstorms (typical Scottish weather).
The day before is all charging batteries, formatting memory cards, triple checking the bike and making sure I've not lost the ferry ticket already. With the route setup on Calimoto, it gives you that little bit of stress relief as you wont get lost and can see your arrival times for the ferry etc. I decided to put the Insta 360 One R Action Camera onto the accessory bar, not for a 360 but to give me the options of taking footage facing forward or back towards myself. I would also be taking the Dango Gripper as a chin mount.
Like a big kid waiting for Christmas, I struggle to sleep the night before going away, paranoid that I’m going to sleep through the 3 alarms I set. After finally managing to sleep, I woke up at 5:30am, a whole 30mins before my alarm was going off, (at least I never woke the other half!). Breakfast, coffee and gear up, and I walk out the house to find the harr has rolled in and the midges are out in force. Riding down from Ullapool to Aviemore I could not believe the amount of drivers that never had any lights on at all, despite the foggy conditions.
After meeting up in Aviemore to fill up and grab a coffee, we headed down towards Laggan. This is a great road, lots of changes in direction and lovely scenery. We have done this road a fair bit in the past as it beats heading down the A9. The harr started to break up the further south we headed and the temperature increased which meant the heated grips could get turned down a bit (yeah, heated grips in summer). A quick photo stop at the Laggan dam and to check that everyone is happy & alright. A good mixture of styles of bikes.
Continuing down to Spean Bridge where we stopped for breakfast, we got chatting. It was the first time that we had ridden with the two brothers Anti & Jako from Estonia, who only started riding in the UK at the same time the Weekend Warriors group was created. Anti was keen to come on the run as he wanted to find out how many miles he could do on the busa and still be comfortable (it was about 300 miles in that he started to feel it).
Filling up at Fort William and then onto Glenfinnan - a road which i had never done on the bike before. Some great bends and stunning scenery and the bends just get better getting closer to Mallaig. 100% will do this route again, just have to be careful as there are a lot of tourists waiting for the railway bridge for the Harry Potter train.
We arrived early into Mallaig, and that was the first section of the run done with 233 miles completed and now to relax in the baking heat at the harbour. A good time to get some fluids in as it was getting seriously warm for Scottish people, Ginger Lives Matter (sorry Andy :-) ).
The ferry crossing was superb, lovely and calm and even some dolphins following us as we crossed. Take note its not a massive ferry and the bike spaces are limited, sadly one of the members left it too late to book and had to meet us on the island instead.
At Armadale on the Isle of Skye, we met up with Dan on his lovely red VFR and headed north, starting the second section of the run. Straight away you're greeted with lovely sweeping bends right on the coastline en route to the Skye Bridge.
Heading up you could see the harr starting to roll over and decided it was time for some much needed lunch, never good to be hungry when on the bike as your concentration goes. We stopped again for a quick fill up in Broadford and made our way north west up to Sligachan where we would turn off to start the loop.
The scenery on Skye is just something else, you could stop at every layby to take photos. We stopped off at Gesto Bay Viewpoint which gave us time to swap GoPro batteries as i was using the GoPro mounted to the Dango gripper for the onboard stills. This gave Dan the perfect opportunity to strike the model pose while taking in the view.
Another stop off after climbing up to the Idrigil Bay Viewpoint, over looking Uig, on route to Quiraing Isle of Skye which was my idea (more on that shortly).
The whole trip up to this point the roads did not feel that busy. Yes, there was traffic but not what you would expect for this time of year. Perhaps a combination of the fuel prices and the fact people can travel abroad again without so many restrictions?
Anyway this is where the traffic became rather annoying and my idea of cutting across was to show the other guys the Quiraing......... well that did not go to plan. Literally as we came into the parking area the harr had showed up again and ruined any chances of enjoying the view.
However we did get full tourist experience of the smell of burning clutches, hand waving and cars unable to reverse.
Heading south again, we got lucky with some breaks in the harr so got a nice view of the The Storr and as we approach you could see it breaking out through the harr, very atmospheric for the visitors enjoying the walk.
Heading back towards Sligachan the view looking south is an iconic view of the Isle of Skye, one of the good reasons to do this loop from east to west.
After coming off Skye and into Kyle of Lochalsh, time was getting on and we were all starting to get a bit hungry. So knowing there would not be that many places on the way back, we stopped for food down at the harbour where we helped the pizza shop close early but it was a fair old wait for the food as was popular place :-).
With 90 miles remaining it was the homeward stretch and think everyone was now just wanting to get home, the road to Achnaseen is good but then it straightens off a fair bit which feels more like the A9 after you have done a good few times.
After helping put a few thousand midges to rest, we all made it home and raring to get out and do another run.
Thanks to Andy, Anti, Joko & Dan for a great days riding.
420 miles in 14 hours - a great way to spend a Saturday!
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