Day 218: Flodigarry to Portree
Distance: 22.36 miles
Ascent: 3917 feet
Weather: A Bit of Everything; Rain, Wind & Sun
Accommodation: Wild camp Outside Portree
I must admit over the rest day I had started to get a bit anxious because I was starting to lose control of the walk, both admin for myself in terms of routes, shop planning, charging, accommodation etc. and also the public stuff, diaries, blogs, general website and fundraising. But when I woke up this morning I had to push this to the back of my mind and get my mind back into walking mode and after packing the last bits and having my breakfast in the kitchen in the great Flodigarry Hostel I was on my way by 6:45.
The first part of my day was going to be on the road after a lot of deliberation as I had considered all manner of off piste routes, but after discussion with the guy in the hostel and given the fact the road never strayed more than a kilometer from the coast all the way to the parking area for the Old Man of Storr, I decided to take it all the way to there.
The skies were a bit ominous, so I went of in full wet weather set up. At this time in the morning the road was quiet, and the views were already incredible up onto the Trotternish Ridge (I must admit I was tempted to take this to the Old Man of Storr as it looked incredible but it was less coastal.) The only thing that wasn’t playing ball as I passed Staffin and then Kilt Rock area was the weather with light rain showers constantly drifting through and the wind slowly increasing in strength definitely above the 15mph which had been forecast.
After about 13 miles I was nearing the end of my road section (only a couple of miles to go) and the road had now begun to get busier as the tourists were on their tourist loop including the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, The Quirang to name a few. Suddenly the heavens absolutely opened and I literally ran to an open barn about 500m away and ducked inside it to share it with the swifts inside. Once inside, though it was only about 10:30am I decided to have a very early lunch so had my sandwich, crisps, chocolate and coke in amongst the sheep crap.
The rain had stopped by the time I had finished my lunch and I carried on and I was not prepared for the sheer amount of vehicles I was about to encounter. As I approached the Old Man of Storr parking area there were vehicles everywhere and a massive traffic jam, I reckon there were at minimum a few hundred cars parked, I would not be surprised if there was not close on a thousand it was absolute pandemonium. I had to smirk to myself as they were all walking up to see a rock which may be impressive but there are more on the island and I was glad I turned left here and down to the coast and not right following the tourist trail up.
I had been astounded by the amount of cars and I was about to be astounded by astonishing beauty. Randomly I was half expecting to bump into a few people I had met two nights ago (even with a 16 mile advantage) in the hostel who had set of yesterday aiming to head along the ridge (if wind allowed) and then onto Portree today. I took a little tarmac private road down by Loch Leathan and then just short of the viewpoint I passed the first 3 of the people I had met, well not really passed they had obviously had a tough night as they were still in their tent which was tucked behind a little hydro building. It turns out the wind had been to strong so they had bussed to Old Man of Storr and pitched here in the quite heavy winds last night.
I was now following the Skye Trail again and then as I climbed onto the path I spotted two rucksack covers I recognised (1 blue & 1 orange). I bumped into the 2 hostel girls and walked with them for a while along the first lower ridge and the scenery was amazing. They stopped for a break at the bottom of the main climb, but I have a weird thing about this and always want my break at the top so I left them and carried on climbing up the Fiurnean.
The sun was trying to come out and on reaching the top I literally stopped in amazement as the view opened up in front of me. It is rare that a view has this effect on me but it quite simply astonished me, the clouds/sun were perfect, the sea was gleaming and the ridge that I would be following was magnificent. Unfortunately my camera was in my backpack so photos are from my phone but they roughly give the scene.
I followed the ridge and the wind started to get pretty strong and I actually had to hold onto my rucksack cover as I had not roped it on, but it did not dampen my spirit along this magical ridge. Just before descending to Portree I bumped into the final pair from the hostel and they were having an equally great time.
The sun was sort of out as I began the descent. Half way down, there was a slight issue. A bull, cows and calves the other side of the fence and for some reason the calves were excitable they wandered up to the fence I needed to go over and started mooing at me. I was stupidly anxious and decided to wait for a walker descending behind who was only a few minutes behind and when he arrived it turned out he was a local, and with him alongside I had the confidence to descend and we got by the first group easily though the second group were quite excitable so we had to divert a little but he knew there was an alternative gate. The guy diverted here to go and feed some ravens he had tamed and recommended somewhere for me to pitch just outside Portree (the capital of Skye).
The final path into Portree was lovely along the edge of the water and I pitched near the viewpoint as the guy had recommended. An amazing day and one I needed after all the hard days in previous weeks. I wandered into Portree to get supplies, Wi-Fi and also to debate extending tomorrow as it is a flat, mostly lane day. What a day!
NB - Camera was in backpack but got carried away and took too many photos so couldn't reduce down to 12.