The Cuillin on the A87 then A851 - Skye & The Hebrides - CycleBlaze

The Cuillin on the A87 then A851

ferry to Mallaig

The bunkhouse room was too good to be true at 15 quid. Once I find it - up a small hill - and have unpacked, a crew of construction workers arrives and occupies all the other bunks. There are bottles of opened beer everywhere and I can predict what'll happen  later, and sure enough, once they've changed, they drive back to the hotel-pub-brewery and return to the bunkhouse at gone 11:00, waking me up after having obviously consumed quite a bit of ale. 

It's simply their inconsiderate behavior that annoys me. What makes it worse is the foreman's alarm goes off before 6:00, even though none of are up before I leave at seven.

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I take some photos (below) of the cloud-ringed Cuillin peaks from an old stone bridge as I wait for 8 o'clock to arrive, which is when I can get my hotel breakfast. 

After the usual cooked fare the world doesn't seem such a bad place and the sun makes an appearance for a while. Highland Cattle, their long furry hair obscuring their eyes, are grazing on the slopes and I stop up the gentle climb on the A 87 to snap a few more pictures.

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The blue skies don't last long, though. It drizzles for a while; then the sun comes back out. Hey - this is Scotland. Once at the junction with the smaller A 851 for Mallaig, it's quite bright and some other cyclists zip down as I climb again. We wave. Then more dark clouds approach, really dark ones. 

The clouds sail across and it seems they've spared me, but then I see rain bouncing off the road not far ahead, the wetness zooming my way fast. I'm wet before I can get my jacket on. Five minutes later the sun is shining and the ferry from Mallaig leaves at 1:00 and I make it okay, albeit a bit damp. 

Once off the ferry from Armadale and out of tiny Mallaig, the road seems very big, a too-wide stretch of A 830 that thankfully doesn't have many vehicles on it. Nevertheless, I make a right after a few kilometers and find a tranquil side-road - the B 8008 - that follows the coastline in a very casual sort of way. 

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I'm greeted with a super view of Morar, with its sandy beach looking truly idyllic, cumulonimbus clouds puffing up on the far horizon, their reflection on the vast expanse of calm water. I walk on the sand, flip off my sandals and get my feet wet; memories of childhood come flooding back. 

There's a need to make some progress and several miles are covered somewhat reluctantly as I cycle past a golf course and tall purple flowers and by mid-afternoon it's bright sunshine and I'm really roasting. I just can't work it out. 

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The B 8008 leads me to the quiet village of Arisaig where there's a shop and a pub, the latter looking very tempting, but I know a beer would put an end to the day's ride, so I just buy some food and sit and look out to Loch Nan Ceall. The woman in the shop tells me to be warry of midges if I take the southern route, along the tiny A 861, which reminds me I haven't seen a single midge since arriving in Scotland. I should have come here decades ago.

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From Arisaig, I'm back on the A 830 and cycling under the hot sun and opt to stop at a pub after about an hour, but just limit myself to a pot of tea. The landlord tells me there's no way across Loch Elt - from the small A 861 - so later I stay on the main road on the north side. There's a train station just across from the pub and I look at the timetable, which tells me there's quite a while until the next one heading to Fort William. Off I go.

Gleannfhionnainn - or Glenfinnan - is where I decide to call it quits. The station is decked with hanging baskets of summer flowers: very pretty. I put my bike on the train that then zips me along not too fast with majestic views of Loch Eil from its windows and I feel sad not to be enjoying it from by Brooks seat.

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It'd take a day or two to ride down to Oban from Fort William, so I decide to simply forget my rear wheel. This cheapy is holding out okay and my daughter's wedding is looming up. I think my father-of-the-bride speech is finished and my train south to England leaves early in the morning - 7:40am - and I can't afford to miss it, so don't want to camp somewhere out of town. 

The B&Bs are all full, so I stay in a swanky hotel across from Fort William's train station and dine in its restaurant, followed by a nice pint. 

After an early breakfast, I'm zipping south into England via Edinburgh.

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