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21: Touring Wester Ross

When I wake up, the wheather has cleared up a bit so at least I'll be able to pack up while it's dry. After breakfast, I work quickly to get packed because, while dry, the weather looks quite unpredictable. I can see showers across the lake and I want to be packed up before they decide to visit this end. However, I'm needlessly worried because it stays dry all the way to the parking, where my bike is still standing untouched.

I exchange the riding gear with the backpack in the luggage roll, and take a very long break to make sure that I'm fit to ride. Even though the last leg was maybe just some 4km, I want to be fully rested before riding. When I feel I reached that point, I hop on the bike and ride away. It's good to be back with the old Beemer, a nice change after walking over 45km with a heavy backpack through rough terrain...

As I have some time on my hands, I decide to do a tour of Wester Ross before heading back to Skye. I go up to Poolewe, take the road towards Ullapool, then down again back to Kinlochewe. Wester Ross is impressive - only the outer rim, mostly near the coast, shows sign of human activity and I know that everything on my right hand I see while riding clockwise around the area is just as empty as the tiny corner I explored the last couple of days. As always, the character of the landscape varies - woodlands, bays, rugged mountains, and as always, great roads to ride. Before I know it, I have completed the tour and find myself in Kinlochewe again. Not for the last time, I am quite sure I will be returning in this beautiful quiet wildernis.

The ride back is uneventful. I pass the geocache site that I skipped when I wanted to get to the pass, but just at that time it is raining and I decide to let this cache go - I don't feel like changing boots, etcetera, in the rain and walking in bike gear is not a lot of fun either. Maybe next year.

I left some bags at the B&B - it is closed today, so I agreed with the owner that I would stay there tomorrow and camp out another night. He left the door unlocked (while away for a wedding), so I pick up my tankbag which has some stuff I'd like to have with me and head north to the camping site. But first, with the decision about the tent of last night, I am going to Portree. If I can't repair this tent, I'm going to stay in the hotel.

The outdoor shop does have a tube of seam seal, but packed in a generic tent repair kit so I would buy a lot of stuff I don't need. The girl suggests I walk over to the local Intersport store and inquire there, because they also sell tents. In that shop, a friendly lady has to disappoint me but points out, when I mention a hotel stay, that they sell tents for as little as 49 pounds. A quick check shows that this is a reasonably decent tent (double roofed, taped seams, single dome with a meter extension so I can stash some stuff outside the tent, and with 4kg only a bit heavier than the old tent), so 49 pounds change hands and I ride to the camp side.

The tent is a breeze to setup, so I quickly settle myself and get the cigar and whisky from the backpack. The weather is quite nice, the sunset very red, and while talking to some German people I'm shooting pictures like crazy. When the sun is gone, the midges wake up and come to hunt us in our tents. I resist, applying lots of insect repellant to myself, and manage to just sit on a rock and admire the landscape for another 15 minutes before it really gets to dark.

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