Monday, 13 October 2014

Reaching for the Skye

The original plan was a 9 day bike-packing trip to the Isle of Skye, what actually happened after a two hour drive through torrential rain on a Friday evening with darkening skies and blustering winds, was a last minute self-catering cottage booked for a week.

And so it began. All change. A quick trip into Fort William to purchase suitable footwear - packing for a week of cycling is quite different to a week of walking but I refused to buy anything more than a new pair of Salomon trainers as I have a house full to overflowing with walking gear, even if it was 400 miles away!

View over Portree from the cottage
This was only the second of the annual 'trips with friends' we'd planned all those years ago in Aviemore - me, Steve M and Chris G. The first one to Anglesey was a few years in the making and then there has been a gap of another 4 or 5 years so we're actually working on two a decade. But considering the amount we drink on these trips, that might well be a good thing.

The two bedroom self-catering cottage, Mountain View, just outside Portree couldn't have been more perfect. It had everything needed for a comfortable week including stunning views in all directions. Mornings started with a quick look outside to check the sunrise and every evening half an eye was kept on sunsets and cloud formations. Low cloud and rainbows were also a feature, as was the resident hare.

Each day was different with hill walks, beach trips, distillery tours, castle visits and the odd ride here and there. Despite the bad weather on some days we still managed to get out and about - bad weather equals moody skies and great photos remember. Although I'm not so sure the trip to the most westerly part of the island, Nieste Point, on a day with 70mph winds was such a good idea as I couldn't actually hold the camera still enough to get a sharp shot!

Fortunately for me, Steve Makin is a professional standard photographer and if you're going to be stuck on a dramatic isle for a week at the changing of the seasons, there's really nobody better. We'd be driving somewhere, one of us would spot a shot, get out, take some photos and jump back in; only to repeat the same actions a few miles down the road when another glorious view appeared. Evenings were spent reviewing the 100 or so photos taken each day, and drinking a formidable amount of alcohol. On a good day I'm as quick as Steve on a bike, on some days I'm as enthusiastic as he is about riding, unfortunately I'll never be as good as him at taking photos.

Another incredible week with one of my closest friends and a great way to relax after such a busy summer. Just what I needed: an old friendship strengthened, new friendships made, new places explored, a hobby encouraged, knowledge gained and a change of perspective in many ways.

The full photo gallery is available on my flickr page. And to see how it can be done, Steve's flickr gallery is here.