south skye cycle

Fri, Jul 11, 2014

With the continuing sweltering weather I thought I’d jump on the bike and go for a spin round south Skye. A nice 50 miler from Broadford down to Armadale via the western loop road. What a day! First stop was at Ord with its unbelievable view of Blaven and the Cuillin.

It’s a brutal climb out of Ord, stretching the granny gears to the limit, standing on the pedals, muscles straining and sweating in the melting heat. Twists and turns on the descent cool you down but watch the last bit as you weave round very tight turns on a gravelly single track road. The back wheel slid a few times for added excitement as a bend turned into a nose down descent and screamingly tight loop over a wee bridge and almost vertically up the other side. Wonderful native woodland gives way on the steep descent to Tokavaig to a fresh panorama of the mountains and the sea.

The view is one of the best on the planet in my (very biased!) opinion. Straight across Loch Eishort is Blaven with the ‘Matterhorn of Skye’, Clach Glas spiking up to its right. On the far left is the otherwordly jagged outline of Pinnacle Ridge on Sgurr nan Gillean while in the foreground, the green block on the right is the ruin of Dun Sgathaich.

Dun Sgathaich (also known as Dunscaith) was the ancient home of Clan Donald but was famously the battle school of Sgathach, a mythical celtic warrior queen who taught heros such as Cuchullin how to fight. Imagine a fiery west coast sunset burning the mountains behind as Sgathach stands on the battlements, looking to the western ocean, waiting for Cuchullin to return with tales of war and heroic deeds. Stirring stuff.

From Tokavaig it’s another sharp climb though less intense, over to the quintissential Skye village of Tarskavaig.

Superb views of the village and the Cuillin on the road that contours round the hillside, past the community hall where you can get munchies, tea and cakes between 2-5pm when it’s open. There are also stunning views of the islands.

A sharp twisty descent then takes you to Achnacloich and the wide open beaches with views of the Cuillin before the flattish run inland.

It’s then up to Loch Dhughaill and the last big climb of the day, a mind melting grind up the steep road in the heat but the views are superb.

The long run down to the Sound of Sleat is exhilirating and at the bottom I turned right and spun down to the ferry terminal at Armadale for a full nosh up after quite a few miles of very hilly riding. The food at The Pasta Shed next to the ferry is wonderful and it’s a great place to people watch as the ferries come and go, sat outside in the sun, soaking up a wonderful day.

Fully laden with carbs I headed back home into a brisk NE wind but what a day to savour. Sea, sun, mountains and sky(e)!