Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing,
Onward! the sailors cry;
Carry the lad that's born to be King
Over the sea to Skye.
The name Skye is derived from the Gaelic word for wing, for the shape of the island. The celts called Skye Eilean A'Ceo ('Misty island'), but had only sunny weather on Skye. I said that the Outer Hebrides were so wonderful, but that was before we had seen such wonder like Skye. Skye is similarly rough, but with more green and mountain like landscape. This and the strong head wind, made cycling quite hard. Still we made an extra detour to enjoy Skye as much as possible.
Missed the train
Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides and since the nineties connected to the ‘mainland’ of Scotland with a bridge. But we take the ferry from Armadale to Mallaig. We would very much like to cycle along the most beautiful railroad of the world: the one from Mallaig to Ford William with the famous Glenfinnan bridge, also known from the Harry Potter movies. We took a wonderful stroll along the bridge, but we were just under ten minutes too late to see the steam train go over the bridge, which it does once a day. We could wait twenty three hours and fifty minutes but we felt that wasn’t worth it.
‘No, it always rains in Glenfinnan’, the lady said when we all looked at the dark clouds over our heads. Remy voiced his hope that would blow over, but she can know, since she works there in a train car that serves as a restaurant at a small station in Glenfinnan. En she had it right, a little bit, we got an hour of drizzle, that’s all.
After the walk we stepped on our bicycles again and cycled along the south side of Loch Eil in the direction of Ford William. The first drops started to fall as we arrived at the pedestrian ferry. Ford William is on the other side. We discovered that the ferry only goes four times a day and we just missed the third.
So, we’re left with three options: we wait with five other cyclists in a small shelter for the next one in two and a half hours, or we cycle back to cross a bridge and cycle over the north side of Loch Eil to Fort William (20km detour), or continue cycling south around Loch Linnhe (30km detour).
Standing in a small shelter with the seven of us is too cramped for us, unless the drizzle let’s off. Cycling back is not really an option for us, so we choose the latter option.
And so we start on our 30km detour to get in to Fort William. For the second time this trip with raining clothes on on, but thankfully an hour later it was dry again.
We have met Ben. Ben is tough, imposing, large and isn’t allways as friendly. If you underestimate Ben, you’ll get in trouble. When we first saw him, he was shrouded by a cloud....
Here he is (picture); Ben Nevis! The highest mountain of Great Britain (1344m). We would have loved to have visited him, but there’s no cycling path over it. Still he watched over us: at its base we found a wonderful spot to camp in the wild along the Caledonian Canal, northeast of Fort William.
Ben is Celtic for mountain by the way.
Forgive me my arrogance, but I think we have solved the mystery of the Monster of Loch Ness. It goes like this: there goes a fault of 160km long through the Scottish Highlands called the Great Glen. In there you have Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy. The Caladonian Canal, that was constructed over them, forms a waterway between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
In other words, the Monster can go anywhere, why would it remain in Loch Ness? No, I think that we shouldn’t be surprised if we see Nessie swimming past the shore of Ter Heijde!
In the meantime we left Inverness behind us now we’re cycling via Edinburgh to Newcastle. Wich is Aboutaleb 700 kilometres
- 20 days
- 1431 km
- 9 ferries
- Steepest climb: 30%
- Highest point: 400 meters