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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2018 2:16 pm 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:40 pm
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Location: The Royal Society of Insobriety
I am finally getting organised with a 6 day ride from (and to) Inverness via the Isle of Skye and I would love some input from anyone who knows that area/has ridden the area as to great places to see, roads to ride and good spots to camp (and Inns to sample).

I am also very keen to see some Otters if anyone can suggest a good place to see them!

Basic plan is to ride NW to Ullapool and then down along the coast to Skye and back to Inverness via probably the most direct route, we are all on touring bikes (mine's retro) with wide-ish 700c tyres but not afraid of a bit of gravel/tracks/fire roads.

Thanks in advance.


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 8:44 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 10:30 pm
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Location: Lochaber
OTTERS
Your best bet to see otters will be in the sheltered sea lochs and along sheltered coasts. Heading to Skye from Ullapool you’ll have a chance of spotting them in Little Loch Broom, Loch Ewe, Loch Torridon, Loch Carron and around the Skye Bridge. Lots of good sheltered coast on Skye too. Just keep an eye out as you cycle along. If you get to a spot with a good view along the coast it is worth stopping to scan ahead. A wee pair of binoculars would be a real help. There’s not much point sitting waiting for them to appear as they have big home ranges (many miles of coast) and it is usually better to seek them out.

The best coasts are sheltered with sloping boulder and cobble shores (not cliffs). That’s cos there’s more wee fish for them at the former.

You are most likely to spot them when they are in the water feeding. They feed in shallow water so are typically within 50 m of the shore and often just along the margins of the floating tops of the seaweed. If the water is calm they are much easier to spot than in waves. They don’t feed much at high tide (they need to dive deeper as their food lives on the seabed, so not efficient) so mid to low tide is best and a falling tide is ideal. When they make a foraging dive they go down near-vertical so the tail comes up making them easy to distinguish from diving birds even at a distance.

Evening and early mornings are good but in the sea they can be active any time of day.
If you do spot one you can often get quite close by moving towards them while they are under the water (time their dives and sprint to the next cover while they are uner water). Stay downwind if possible as they have excellent sense of smell but if you are not moving they quite often won’t see you even in the open.
Good luck. They are wonderful beasties. I did my PhD studying them on the Isle of Mull nearly 30 years ago and I never tire of watching them.

PUBS (two of my favourites):
Inverness – Clachnaharry Inn. Nice wee local with good beer.
Gairloch: Old Inn. Good food and beer and a chance of some tunes.

CAMPING
Very civilised here as you have a right to camp for a night pretty much anywhere. The shores of the sea lochs can be good as midgies may be fewer and you might find driftwood for a fire. If by some miracle it isn’t raining sunsets can be good too. There’s some nice spots round Gruinard Bay, Loch Ewe, Plockton and Applecross.

ROADS
Well, the coast from Ullapool to the Skye Bridge is fab. I doubt you’ll have time but a detour northwest from Ullapool to Achiltibuie is worthwhile on a nice day.

Hope you have a grand trip and good luck with the otters.


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2018 10:46 pm 
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
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Joined: Sun May 25, 2008 11:03 am
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Location: Sunny Glasgow
Pack a midge protection hood :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2018 8:55 am 
Old School Grand Master
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Joined: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:40 pm
Posts: 4105
Location: The Royal Society of Insobriety
Thanks Jon, some great advice there, I shall alter the route accordingly.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 11:32 pm 
P.o.T.M. Winner / MacRetro Rider
P.o.T.M. Winner / MacRetro Rider
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:03 am
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Location: In the foothills of the foothills of The Cairngorm Massif :D
Take your time, enjoy the ride and pray for good weather. Stop frequently to eat biscuits and absorb the surroundings as the further north and west you go, the better it gets 8)


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