DAY 11/12- Portree - Malliag

In the morning we cooked breakfast on a nearby drystane dyke, luckily, the weather was nearly dry but the weather forecast was not good. Heading south, our first stop was at Sconser which is where the ferry goes the short distance to Raasay, now more famous for the Calum’s Road. This is a highly recommended book about an islander building his own road on the island.

Breakfast in the rain (it was not to stop all day)!

We branched off the main road shortly after this onto the old single -track road which skirted around a 'small' mountain. The road was a pleasure to ride on. The only traffic was the Royal Mail van which was constantly passing us as it dropped mail with ever eager, talkative crofters standing at their gates with eager anticipation.
Just before coming to the main road the clouds had thickened from dark grey to midnight black and the rain was baling out all down the road, another six hour downpour in the 20 feet per year annual rainfall of the Skye. Most of the scenery had vanished. I did 45 miles with my head down as the rain came in torrents. The road from Portree to Armadale was newly built, wide, straight and with fast spraying traffic.

These cars whizzed along in carefree abandon eating up the miles in seconds. It was the opposite with us, I found it a struggle. My helmet was pinging with the spasmodic tattoo of heavy rain; in minutes rivers of water were running down my back. The scenery pulled down the shutters, and before long my blinking, slitted gaze had dropped to the wet road in front of me. It was then that I got the idea for a recreation I dubbed slug tennis, a name that adds a deceitful veneer of respectability to what I can only shamefully describe as the squashing of huge roadside slugs beneath rotating rubber.

This was a 45 miler and we were both glad to eventually turn into the ferry terminal alongside several washed-out bus tours for the ferry to Mallaig. The ferry was packed for the short journey and, as everyone was wet, the atmosphere in the lounge was the same humidity of a tropical rainstorm as wet clothes slowly started to dry out.

Mallaig bubbles with arguing gulls, and there is that wonderful smell of seaweed and diesel. I’ve always enjoyed Mallaig; it has that atmosphere of a frontier town. It does the hard industry and tourist mixture ten times better than Oban or Fort William does. Not enough B &B's though: after trying several we ended up at the Mallaig Hotel and it turned out to be ideal for our needs. A shop directly opposite enable the purchase of several bottles of beer and an excellent fish and chips while watching the telly made up for the pretty shitty day we had just experienced.

Mallaig harbour is always busy, nothing pretty about it either - but still worthy of a visit. Also Marine Hotel - not 5 star but perfectly adequate after a long day in the rain.