I recently went camping with a few
friends in northern Scotland. As well as catching up, it was also to be the
first real outing for yet another new bike, this one a 2005 Aprilia ETV1000 Caponord.
My recent adventures on the Triumph TT600 had confirmed that I’m not really a
sportsbike type of person, the Caponord is much more my sort of thing. Very like my
Triumph Tiger 955 in many ways.
We would be staying at a campsite in
Shiel Bridge in the shadow of the Five Sisters of Kintail mountain range, a rather dramatic setting, and just along the road from Eilean Donan Castle, probably the most instantly recognisable of Scotland's many castles. The site itself was a bit basic, but our needs were few, and the local hotel was only about a
mile away for food and a few beers of an evening.
The ride up on Friday was a bit grey and overcast,
but I missed the rain which a couple of the others were caught in. It wasn’t
looking like the best of weekends, something the ever reliable weather forecasts
agreed upon almost without exception.
|at a viewpoint looking back towards Loch Duich|
However, Saturday dawned bright and
sunny and we decided to risk it and take a run around the Isle of Skye. Instead
of doing the sensible thing and taking the bridge, we decided to take the small
Glenelg Ferry instead.
|not the biggest ferry I've ever been on|
This is a fairly short crossing, but involves riding on
some fantastic wee single-track roads on both sides of the water. Anyway, a
ferry is always way more interesting than a bridge.
|on board you are advised to remain with your bike in case it should topple over|
Once on Skye we headed for the village
of Elgol on the SW coast. Once again, a fantastic single-track road and simply
stunning scenery throughout. We weren’t the only visitors, though, and the
small harbour area was incredibly busy. We stayed only long enough for a few
photos before heading back the way we had come, stopping off for a bit of lunch
at the Blue Shed Café at Torrin.
I’d highly recommend the cafe, not only for
the food, which was excellent, but also for the views.
|the view towards Blà Bheinn (the Blue Mountain), part of the Cuillen range|
Then on to Portree, the island’s
capital, where after a bit of confusion we located an ATM, filled the bikes
with fuel, and headed north to Staffin and Kilt Rock. From there we took the Bealach Cuithraing road over the hills to Uig. Another single-track road which runs coast to coast, complete with a couple of tight hairpins thrown in for good
|at Kilt Rock looking over towards Wester Ross|
Once in Uig we turned back towards
Portree and headed for the bridge at Kyleakin before returning to the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh.
|heading into Uig |
Just as were approaching the bridge it
began to rain, resulting in a truly spectacular double rainbow as we crossed. The
rain continued, getting really heavy for the next ten miles or so, before
clearing up and leaving the air remarkably clear. Well, it wouldn’t be a trip
to Skye if it hadn’t rained, now would it?
|our route for the day|
Back at the campsite it became apparent that
the damp humid conditions had brought forth that scourge of the Highlands, the
midge. For such a small insignificant thing they are a plague which drives even
the hardiest soul demented, so off to the pub it was. And quickly too.
Finally, the walk along the shore of Loch Duich to the hotel as
the sun was setting was the perfect end to an almost perfect day.
However, I can't leave you without sharing this rather surreal roadsign spotted on the road to the ferry.