Reflections

What a night last night. From 9:30pm the heavens truly opened and boy did it chuck it down. The wind whipped the tent from side to side and all my poor tired little body wanted to do was get some kip. By 7am I was woken by the heat in tent, sunshine! Bleary eyed and desperately tired I unzipped the door and my sleeping bag and rolled over. Dozing and dreaming I woke with a start at 9am and the sun had gone, replaced by yet more grey heavy clouds threatening to unleash their load. There was no way on earth I was letting a dry tent get wet again so it was a serious multitasking mission but within 50 minutes I was dressed, fed and all packed up - I think that is a record!

Unfortunately my gas bottle for my stove had decided not to seal when I unscrewed the stove and hence was now hissing out gas. This cemented my direction for the day as I'd have to cycle to Portree and hope that the outdoors shop was open on Sundays. I had planned to head back east anyway so it wasn't too bad, plus Portree might have a cafe open so that I could get my pot of tea fix!

The road across from the west to the east of Skye was pretty darn nice. Ups and downs and little traffic with wonderful views. It felt like I was the only one up and about.

Views

A mile or so from Portree I stopped for yet another snack stop. I wasn't particularly hungry but I just felt tired and so was hoping that a quick sugar hit would do the trick. Rolling into Portree I was relieved to find the outdoors shop open and got myself a new gas bottle and managed to find a cafe that was open to relax with a brew. I was tired but looking forward to seeing what was in store up the east coast.

Back to the horrid single carriageway death trap roads I wasn't too pleased but the nearer I got to the Old Man of Storr the view certainly helped.

Road view

It was here at the Old Man of Storr that I made my stupidest decision yet I think. To ride up the path. 1km with 250 metres of climbing, yes let's try that! Stupid girl. When will I learn eh? Not today it seems.

People looked at me as if I had two heads as I started riding. The rocky track was full of switchbacks and even the first sections really tested my legs. I was enjoying myself though as I love a good challenge!

Happy

The route became steeper and I had to get off and push at times which was difficult even it itself. People ahead of me turned to watch me get back on the bike to crawl up the next section. It was at this point that I thought I may have bitten off more than I could chew but then as I beasted myself up a particularly steep there was a chinese man at the top who was shouting and clapping at me as if I was in a world cup race. He then started taking photos of me as I went by and it took all of my effort not to collapse into giggles and to keep cycling. It was fantastic! I shouted my thanks as I went by and smiled to myself, who is crazier, me for trying to ride up to the Old Man of Storr or him for taking photos of a strange girl heaving a fully laden mountain bike up to a tourist attraction.

Old Man of Storr view

I was finally beaten at a gate. The way up was now a scramble and so I let the Beast have some rest whilst me and Monkey hiked up to the top.

Me and Monkey

It was light going compared to riding the Beast and I reached a point to rest for a while just beneath the Old Man. What a view!

View out to sea

No time to waste sitting about as I had one hell of a downhill to get my wheels into as I headed back to The Beast.

Beast at Old Man of Storr

It was busy with tourists but I was lucky to get a few sections on the way back down just to let off the brakes and go for it. Most people heard me coming and moved to the side and the adrenaline was pumping round the switchback corners, woohoo! Totally worth it just for those 5 or 6 minutes coming down, oh yeah!

Suitably knackered now I hit the road again headed north. I'd seen a place on the map not far from here which could be a nice place for camp spot. It was only just 4pm but I was ready to stop for the day and no sooner had I seen the layby I had also seen a nice gateway onto some land by the river. I popped along the path to see the Diatomite works by the coast.

Diatomite works

A large area of diatomite was mined here in the 1890's. It is a whitish, clay-like substance that has many industrial uses as well as being used in the manufature of dynamite.

I headed back across the road to the hidden gate and found my spot for the night.

Camp spot

Today is day 56 of my journey which means that I have 28 days left, exactly 4 weeks. Two thirds of my trip has gone and upon realising this when I stopped for the day, I sat by the river and watched the world go by.

What have I missed whilst being away? When I thought about it I was fairly surprised. I haven't missed my flat, my car, my bed or any of my actual possessions. I haven't missed London either and before I left I loved living there. I haven't missed my job or working or sitting in front of a computer all day. I haven't missed watching TV. I have missed my friends and my family. I now realise just how important my loved ones are in my life. Friends who can make you laugh, cheer you up, support you, lean on you and have a good chinwag with. Family who are always there no matter what and have supported me 100% on this journey. That is what is important for my life going forward.

I hope to think that my life will change when I return from this trip. All of the things that I want to do that I say I don't have time to do I could make a start on just by not watching TV. I want to focus on doing things that make me happy and fulfilled and by writing this down it will serve as a reminder about how I feel right now. A promise to myself to change my life for the better.

Trip Summary:

  • Miles ridden = ???
  • Ice creams eaten = 7
  • Ferries taken = 20
  • Islands visited = 18
  • Wild camp nights = 27
  • Ticks removed from body = 3
  • Distilleries visited = 6
  • Breweries visited = 3
  • Bothy nights = 6