Whilst packing our kit into the van on Thursday night for our trip to Skye, the thought of sleeping in it in a new unknown location had become only a distant memory to me. Our Sprinter (DIY camper) had been in storage during the winter months and my adventures had been accommodated by BnB’s, a friends sofa, tents and the occasional hammock. But after a long 9 hour journey and an overnight stop just outside of Fort William, Aiken and I had slipped back into Vanlife as if we had never left the confines of our old Sprinter- bliss. This time though, with the dogs for the duration! (Which is a new and welcome experience for us). Europe was far too warm last summer for them, and having only taken them on a few Peaks nights away they were also pretty stoked. Once we made it to Skye, we headed to the coast and parked up just down the way from a place called Kilbride, right on the beach. A scenic quiet beach, ideal for the dogs and us. After a much needed great nights sleep followed by a lazy breakfast, we then had a look on Komoot to see what was around. On the Komoot cycle map we noticed some ruins marked out and a path leading off and around to them. We planned a 10mile round tour from the van and back incorporating the Boreraig ruins, perfect distance with Bell our younger dog to join us.
Itching to get out on Nell, my Rocket, the sun was shining, the scenery was pretty special, we set off on our first ride on the Isle of Skye. To warm up, we had a steady, what felt like forever road ride to our first off-road point. With Bell in tow, this was at a very gentle pace, giving us time to take in the valleys magnificence. With plenty of steams along the way we had a nice amount of cool down spots for Bell, as it was pretty warm.
Off right at the ruined church of Kilchrist (navigated by Komoot) and also really helpfully marked out by some locals. We headed up our first climb of the day up a grassy double-track before shooting up into a rather spicy, steep loose rocky climb, with ruins of an old railway platform and marble quarry to marvel at. With the sun heating me up, and trying to keep up with Aiken, I was blowing pretty quickly, but with the horizon in sight (kind of), I cracked on up and over the hillside. At the top, like always you are welcomed by a the most spectacular views, uniquely to here down onto the coast and of the Boreraig ruins. The descent down was awesome, fast and flowy over some loose rocks with come great rock steps, ending right at the ruins.
For those of you interested in a bit of history, the Boreraig ruins are from the highland clearances in the 1850’s, where folk were forcibly removed from their homes to make way for SHEEP? (I mean, I like sheep, but not that much). But on a serious note, its a pretty crazy bit of history gives the place an eerie feel and definitely worth a stop and look around.
After our look around we then followed a grassy single track trail over plenty of streams, before heading along the trail that now skirts along the beach, I’d never ridden along a trail that follows a coastline, it’s quite something, and also quite hard to stay focused on the trail ahead and not keep staring out into the distance!
I’m always happy to see a fellow mountain biker and will be the first to throw a big wave, but the beauty of this ride was how unridden it in fact was, and how you felt like you were very far from any civilisation and on a proper adventure!
Heading back up the hillside was a challenge with the ever changing terrain on the undulating trail, some sections I found unrideable, Aiken and I challenged each other to try and get over the more technical routes. Mostly, I watched Aiken complete these and I just got off and pushed, my inner Danny MacAskill had not yet come out. Once we headed off up from the coast line we were met with a steep and very narrow climb out of the bay, this route got me in the spirit of a bit of Hike-a-Bike, something I feel like I am becoming quite accustomed to.
Once at the top we stopped for a quick snack, and admired the view before the penultimate climb of the day. Again, another lung buster, Aiken impressively cleared the whole thing, where as I had some off and on moments throughout, I’d blame that on the views though.
Its all down hill from here, on a very rutted out trail to begin with that leads you on the fire road, which had some nice interesting features… like a SNAKE, I hate snakes.
Our round trip was coming to an end, 10 miles later and we could see our van down in the valley. If you’re on the Isle of Skye, I highly recommend this ride! You can check my route out here on Komoot, it’s flippin’ mega.
If you’re vanning it up like us also, where the route leaves the coast to climb inland on this map above is a lush place to park up for the night. I do love Skye.