Its been quite a week this week, one that has seen me travel down the coast as far as the Isle of Mull. The weather has been incredible since leaving Applecross and I feel very lucky to be here. Here, by the way, is Craignure campsite. From my tent, I can see the whole Highland range from Oban up to Ben Nevis. Amazingly, all are clear of cloud as they were last night and the night before.
It’s an extrordinary place to be in any weather, but in these conditions it’s mind blowingly beautiful. I left Applecross on a mission to climb the Beallach na Ba. The highest road pass in Britain. It was 1.5 hours of hard slog to the top, but I felt great and carried on to Skye, up several other big climbs, in the sunshine. in took to exploring the coast around Plockton on the way, and that’s rally pretty.
Arriving on Skye, totally knackerd, I met a really interesting guy who runs a Croft Campsite, where I stayed. We had a long conversation around Sustrans and ecologically sound living and 21st century stress. It transpired that he is going to keep prices down for anybody who arrives on foot, by bus or by bike. So, if you are looking for a site just four miles past the bridge, try Ashaig Croft.
For the first time since leaving home, Ive had a tough week mentally and physically. The constant effort in the hills and the cumulative mileage whilst struggling to keep the fuel tank full, finally caught up with me a bit. What’s really pleased me, is that I’m really listening to that and taking more rests en route, rest days and generally being really chilled about it. As a result, Ive had some amazing contact with wildlife and my mind remains stable!!
Coming face to face with a young stag that stood and looked at me, as I sat and looked at it, until a car spooked it, was incredible. Ive seen a golden Eagle really close up and also yesterday, a Sea Eagle flew over me at about twenty feet. Mobbed by seagulls after the fish it had caught for its young, it all but batted them out of the way as it flew straight through them in a ‘get out of my way’ sort of way. It looked huge compared to a Golden Eagle!!!
Scotland demands you stop and stare, absorb whatever’s going on. Usually, on a trip up here, I absorb lots of water and feel lucky to get a couple of dry days in a week. The scenery and wildlife are breathtaking. In a few days time, I will have left the Highlands and be heading South. In a week or so I’ll be back in blighty, heading South. I will feel strange because I feel like I’ve been here forever.My senses have ben bombarded at every turn, Ive really worked hard for the rewards I’ve had, and that is what makes Scotland really so extra special for me. It will test you in amny many ways. Heat isnt usually one of them, lol,
Back on the health front, it can be difficult to eat enough food during the day as you pedal. You soon find out, because your legs just stop working!!! Stuffing huge amounts of food in without a second thought is a real boon, if, like me, you love eating. Ther’ll have to be a readjustment when I get back, or I’ll look like Pavarotti by next summer.
The only bad thing to happen this week was directly down to somebody driving too fast on a blind road. I heard them coming and knew they wernt expecting me. I pulled sharply off the road to avoid them, and in the process, rolled the trailer totally due to the drop. They didnt even stop!!
Initially I thought I’d broken the quick release axle. A closer inspection showed it to be OK, luckily. The next climb was the biggest of the day and really lovely. As it began to steepen, I flet the trailer was all ‘floppy’. Pulling into a small grassy bay, more inpection showed the elastomer lollipop, that forms the hitch, to have split. “You wont need a spare one of those” said Nick at Carry Freedom. “Best had, just in case, they don’t weigh much” I said. Phew!
As I sat repairing it in the sun, three lads came up the hill and stopped and chatted. They were on a whistlestop tour and had been to the Outer Hebrides where they had been battered by unseasonal North Westerlies and rain. The same happened on Skye and this was their first nice day!! Waiting for the ferry we had a really nice chat about life, the universe and everything.
Apparently, the lollipop can be heated and stuck back together, something I will try this afternoon, so it’ll either work or the next post will be from the local burns unit.
See you soon