Day 28, 14th June 2011, Salen to Isleorsnay (Skye)

As a child I was enthralled by Gavin Maxwell’s books about living in Scotland and caring for otters.  We went through the sort of country pictured in his books today, and found later that he actually lived just a few km away. 

Most of the day was spent riding around sea lochs, or fjords as they are otherwise known.  This is not the easiest of riding as we alternately ride up steep hills, and plunge down the other side.  The hills are frequently above 10% in grade, which is seriously steep.  You can see the elevation profile by selecting the Google Earth link from the map and choosing elevation profile.

I have praised Scottish road making, compared with the English, and that still stands.  This country is very craggy, and the steepness is unavoidable. I remember my father on family holidays talking about the Scottish road engineer, Macadam.  He told me that this man more or less invented modern road building, and I remember when sealed roads were referred to as macadam roads.

We had another short day, just 80km as the goal was to get to the Isle of Skye.

So we rode in very pleasant weather to the ferry port of Maillag, where we bought our tickets and went to see the local tourist information centre.  This was not run by Visit Scotland, so was unable to provide information about Skye.  It is a mystery both to the proprieter and to us as to why Maillag does not have some official tourist information.  Nor does Ardvasar, the ferry port on Skye.

However, we were directed to a local information centre near Advasar, where we asked about accommodation up the road a bit.  The man there told us there was not a lot, but gave us the card for a B&B some 12km away, who Roz rang.

By an amazing coincidence, it turned out to be his mother in law!

Anyway, we arrived here at a place we would never have otherwise found and it is perfect and very reasonably priced.  It even has free WiFi, unlike the Travelodge or Ibis hotels.  Surprisingly in this tourist area we saw very little alternative accommodation on this stretch of road.  Our hostess says numbers are well down this year.

The logistics of bike touring here in Scotland is turning out to be remarkably easy.  Accommodation and decent food is easy to find, the roads are good, and although we are told to expect a change in the weather we have been very lucky so far.

However, I do not think that this is the best first bicycle tour.  More on this later.

We wandered down to the local pub about a km away, and although it was a beautiful evening, the best so far, we were advised not to sit outside because of the midges. Pity really, as the bay and the island, reflected in the glassy-smooth water looked exquisite.

A quick look at the pub menu confirmed, yet again, that the beer-battered haddock and chips was the best bet for me. 

I ordered us some really good local ale, and the fish and chips were excellent.  I love fish and chips but do think though that we will have had enough by the time we leave Scotland.  I love pubs when they are as good as this, with a free whiskey tasting session thrown in for Roz.

So another day passes when it is difficult not to gush. Perhaps I can be more negative about tomorrow when it rains.

Lastly I wish to apologise for misrepresenting the oyster ratings by Roz.  She says that the Loch Fyne oysters which were freshly harvested a few metres away and freshly opened and huge, are the best oysters she has ever tasted.

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