Sunday, 28 August 2016

Over the Sea to Skye

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 measure.

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.


  1. That looks like a fun trip, without the midges of course.

    The Aprilia seems like a great bike for those roads and for camping too.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, without the midges of course. I've been to Skye before, but the weather has invariably been rubbish. Nice to see what all the fuss is about at last. Really like how the bike is set up, but wish the seat were a little more forgiving. Taking it over to Ireland next weekend so have ordered up a comfort seat pad. Don't understand why this is beyond the ability of the manufacturers to get right. It's not as if people have never used a bike to travel long distances before.