On the 7th I was still not recovered fully so I decided I had to rest up still, I basically spent the day sleeping and eating. It was Kath/s birthday so I ventured out to the local shop and bought some supplies and a birthday card. I had been invited to dinner with Kath, Heather and a Joe a friend of theirs with 3 children in tow and another young girl who about 10 I think who they knew.
It was a fun evening lot's of talk and stories, Kath had cooked a curry with Dall etc.. afterwards I went through to bed and listened to some more of rendevous with Rama before drifting off to sleep. I had planned a very early start so I had prepped everything the night before and cleaned my area so that I could get off with a minimum of fuss.
One thing I had decided was to visit Kath and Heather again and I asked if I could leave some things behind which I didn't need now I was essentially leaving the wilds of Scotland, they were more than happy. I also reminded Kath to send me the details of the museam she had sent her fathers bible to, he had been airlifted out of Palestine and brought a bile with him that she had sent to a Jewish museum, they had promised to send her a receipt and what was happening to it, they had done neither and as it was in Birmingham she had asked me to make enquiries which I was more than happy to do.
I left at about 6:30 in the morning after two sachets of microwave porridege. The shop was closed at this time and didn't open till 9, I relied on the fact that there wqas most likely a store on the way, this turned out not to be the case! I only had one apple with me so I was very low on food for most of the day. I was passed at some point by a group of cyclists and a little while later saw a sign for a cafe, saved!!! When I got to the bottom of the track it said "Closed" you cannot know the disapointment that I felt.
Up to this point the ride was going well, I felt I was eating up the miles but little by little the sky darkened and the wind began to make it's presence felt. A while back I had decided to shorten my route across Skye and had updated my map on the Garmin Website, unfortunately for some reaon it had not transferred the update to my unit, which meant my days cycling was much longer than anticipated.
A little while later I found a bookshop/studio which announced it was a cafe although on entry it only did cake and coffee (over 40 varieties of coffee!!) I settled for a peruvian fairtrade that promised to be strong! That and a slice of millionaire shortbread cost £6.00 but somehow the oddness of the establishment and the eccentricity of the owner made it seem good value. The cyclists who had passed me were in there and we chatted for a short while swapping the usual cycling stories how far are you going, how bad or good the car drivers were. One thing we did agree on was that the local postie was a great driver, he had passed me on several occasions and them too each time being a model of patience and caution!
The leader of their pack was Dan Swallwell who sent me a photo of me and of him and our excentric host which I will put up later. The others had moved downstairs and he continued tro chat to me till one of his comrades came up and said they were getting cold waiting for him, then he turned to me and said - he does this all the time!!
A short while later I downed my own coffee and welcome cake if only a temporary calorie fix, the proprietor asked if I had enough water as it was still 20 or so miles to broadfoard. and there was nowhere to buy food till broadford. I bought two caramel bars just in case and she filled my water bottles (I lamented that one was missing, I had stopped eaqrlier at a park bench for a drink and must have left one behind)
I pushed on and although the mountains were impressive they were shrouded in mist, at this point I began to envy those who were religious, being an athiest I had no deity or god figure to blame... the weather had turned atrocious I estimated winds or about 20 - 25 miles per hour backed up by rain that bunched itself into ballbearings aimed at my eyebaalls (I never will figure out how it still manages to him my eyes through glasses).
I am still taking photos however far less, I was taking over 50 a day but the weather was so depressing and there was either driving rain or mist covering everything and I could not face another picture of somethng wet or half obscured. It was an effort to clean the lns which was often spotted with rain before I even took a picture.
When you are riding like this, day in day out with wind and rain, it can be hard to stay motivated you tell yourself the weather will break and it will be sun and shorts time, after a while you get annoyed with yourself and simply tell yourself to shut up, at times I tried being cheerfull but simply wanted to slap me for being so cheerful. At other times you become morose and enjoy being miserable and then you can go through stages of laugher mostly at yourself for being stupid enough to think this was a good idea... This is particularly easy when everyone you meets tells you that you are either crazy or stupid... after a while you begin to agree with them.
But always at the end, you know deep down that after the trip is done, you will put on rose tinted spectacles and you will see it as an Adventure a challenge and you will tell everyone it was worth it and you wouldn't change a think, so I will say now for the record before the glasses take a hold of me, I would change several bloody things:
1. I would swap the rain and the wind for a calm SUNNY day
2. I would swap the hills for flat any day of the week unless it happens to be a downhill
3. I would ban singletrack roads
4. I would make it illegal to refuse a wet sodden person from a double room or charging them for double occupancy after 7:00 pm
5. I would close all CO_OP stores charging double the price: Co-Op broadfoard £3.00 for 4 apples
6. I would make it illegal to call yourself a cafe unless you did snadwiches
7. I would swap a misty mountain for a clear one
8,. Goretex ahoes that don't become wet evern after 8 hrs + of driving rain
9. My belly for a smaller one
That's just a few things I would change! I can think of a lot more, I felt like Calvin and Hobbs where his dad makes him go camping, except with the abusrdity that I was both the dad and Calvin.. The one where they are on a boat it is raining and Calvin's dad says "it's character building" and Calving replies: "What type of character are you trying to build DISGRUNTLED!" I sympathised with both parties, I have had enough character building to last a lifetime.
I digress.... eventually I came to the river Sligcachan, the wind and rain had become ferocious the skys were angry and I figured that I had better stay here, I went to a campsite and the ground was sodden, I would be floating by morning, I tried locally but there was nowhere with space so I resolved to push on to Broadfoard. I have to admit I was tired and did not want to!
When I eventually reached broadfoard there was a co-op but I was horrified at the prices everything seemed double anywhere else???? I bought some bananas and some biscuits and then headed to the laundrette, I was wet and decided to change clothes. I hid behind one of the machines and did a quick change then lobbed my sodden clothes into the dryer, I was wearing waterproofs but the exertion of the day meant that my tshirt etc... were thoroughly wet.
25 minutes later my clothes were dry and I headed out, there seemed to be nowhere to camp in Broadfoard and there was nowhere to stay either, there was an agricultural show on as well as a plethora of tour busses full of eager Japanese and German tourists that whilst essential to the local economy annoyed the hell out of me because everywhere was booked, even the local YHA, I was going to have to sneak in somewhere and stealth camp.
I tried several places, I was exhausted I came across the same old thing, they only had doubles and I would have to pay the same as if it was dual occupancy.. it was late and I could not understand why they would rather see the room empty... One strange lady said yes I have room but I won't let any of my rooms to single people only couples... She had corndolls and pentagrams all over her house and I suspect she was a witch and preferred boiling two at a time as it was probalby more economical... I pinched her wall on the way out to see if it was gingerbread this amused the child in me.
By now I was ready to eat anything and had their been a lonely japanese or german tourist they would have been fair game, I began to sympathise with Zombies... I found a fish and chip shop and my body practically levitated inwards, there were two tables very small and only one was free so I put my coat down. I ordered cod and chips then a dutch couple came in and I watched with disbelief as they took my coat off the char and placed it on the ledge and then put theirs on instead, I stared at them they were tall and thin in their 50's and just looked at me as if I didn't exist. Unlucky my friends as I was not in the mood to eat outside in the rain. I paid for my food and they joined the queue behind me.
I walked up took their coats as noisily as possible and replaced my own this time sitting down till the food was ready, it was cooked to order. The looked at me and then the gentleman in very weak englis said we are sitting there, I smiled stood up and said I was first you moved my coat I dont know what he expected.
My face and tone were designed to show some of the internal annoyance I was feeling. The lady at the counter looked across and a few of the people in the queue did as well, he knew what he had done and he made a very weak sorry i didnt know it was your coat (the logic of that on escaped me too, perhaps he thought it belonged to the shelf that he put it on). I sat back down and collected my fish I picked up a sachet of tomato sauce and was immediately charged another 20p..... Squeeze squeeze.. The dutch couple collected theirs and went outside to eat in their car.. Not an advertisement for the nice dutch people I had met (I assmue dutch as they weren't speaking german and it sounded dutch to me)
(note at this point even I felt I was becoming a whiny tourist)
After I ate my meal I rode further along the road and saw the Hebridean hotel, I decided to give it a go and it turned out to be probably the last place within a hundred miles that didn't have a japanese or german in residence taking up every room, they had a single I took it and made my way to the room.
I should mention despite having a dual sim phone I could get no signal from either O2 or Vodafone so I resorted to skype on the laptop to call family and friends to let them know I was in one piece. I checked my route on Garmin and was horrified to discocer that I had travelled 91 miles. It had been a long and arduous day, I was absolutely exhausted but this perverelsey was good news, I wasn't feeling ill, chesty or fluey and despite the bad weather had covered far more than I expected. Admitttedly there were no hills in the order of the highlands or some of the Scottish coast that had done for me, but that left me amazed, I had expected about 70 and did a recheck but it was stil the same, perhaps there was some hope left for this trip!
I will say one thing, almost every person I speak to keeps telling me this is the worst summer they can remember in Scotland and the weather forecast keeps saying more rain/wind. They have forecast 50 mile and hour winds and driving rain tonight with 20 mile an hour winds and 60 - 70 % precipitation tomorrow. I know that if it doesn't improce soon, I will get unwell again as I am no spring chicken and the body can only take so much. I have only myself to blame it was my idea to do this however, I was thinking of making up my own deity to curse at some pont!