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From Hell To Heaven: Cycling The Isle Of Skye

19/09/2016 13:34

Traveling with the limiting Ukrainian passport, and therefore, a limited UK visa lasting for only 6 months I couldn't pass the opportunity to visit the famous magnificent Isle of Skye in Scotland. Traveling together with my partner, we took the whole trip very indie, flying into Edinburgh and hitchhiking all the way to the Isle of Skye. Surprisingly, we had a very positive experience with locals who gave us lifts, as they were incredibly welcoming and eager to tell about the proud history of their Scottish land.

We reached the town of Portree in the Isle of Skye within the same day, which was very lucky, according to one of our drivers.

"You should consider buying the lottery tickets," he told me when we were saying our goodbyes.

Uplifted by our luck we decided on taking a three-day bicycle trip around the northern tip of the island, which summed up to be around 100 miles. Used to cycling every day in our local Copenhagen, we though this is not going to be a problem.

Loading all of our carry-on baggage on our bicycles, which included the tent and sleeping bags, I already started feeling a bit discouraged. This will definitely slow us down!

Nevertheless, we were there for the experience, not for the race, so we zipped out mouths and hit the road. We were mentally prepared to deal with left-hand driving, but we didn't quite consider the lack of bicycle lanes and very narrow car lanes which sometimes could only fit one car at a time. Well, this is going to be exciting!

The first day went by absolutely incredible. We hiked the Old Man of Storr, seen the Kilt Rock and its waterfalls and even got to the majestic Quiraing all on our own 2 wheels.

At the end of the exhausting day searching for the space to put our tent out, all I could think about was a hot cup of tea. This is a luxury on an island where houses stand miles apart. I was hugely counting on that portable gas we purchased at the shop in Portree. But here's a pickle, it didn't fit the primus! Though disappointed, I quickly drifted away into the sleep.

The morning started with a growling sound of thunder which seemed to be right above our heads. Soon the rain followed and we decided to wait out a little bit to see if it will calm down. But, of course, it won't! Hello, it's Scotland. There's a reason everything is so green and charming and that reason is frequent rain. Making our peace with this fact, we decided to hit the road anyways. Believe me, it was not a pleasant experience to pack the soaking wet tent while it was still drizzling. But that was not the worst of it, the worst was two-thirds of the planned route still waiting ahead.

Mile after mile of cycling in the rain that didn't even think of ending, I stopped noticing the beauty of Skye and could only focus on raindrops making their way deeper into my clothes. It was difficult to pedal; it was nearly dangerous to cycle in this weather. I could not even imagine the night we are going to have, getting into a wet tent in our wet clothes with no hot tea! It was time for making choices.

We made a stop at the abandoned bus station and decided either we want to do the whole trip for the sake of doing it, or we should go back to Portree and enjoy the rest of our stay in Skye. Common sense prevailed and from now on we pedaled happily towards the town where I knew for a fact there would be a place to get a cup of hot tea.

Oh, how blessed I felt on the stop over at the supermarket where I could get some warm air blown right into my face by the entrance door air conditioner.

Blissfully closing the loop and finishing our 45 miles, we approached the town which seemed to be happy to greet us with its sun rays. Booking the last hostel room available and changing into dry clothes we rushed to what seemed like the only café in town to get something hot to eat.

Never will I forget the taste of that £3 bowl of celery soup that changed my stay in the Isle of Skye from dreadful to blissful. Sometimes these small things that we take for granted in our daily life, like a bowl of soup or dry clothes, are our passage from hell to heaven.

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