Touring: The Isle of Skye and the West Coast of Scotland in a Mercedes C class diesel

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Mar 1, 2008
In the driving seat
C220cdi tourer
B]Day one: Getting to Skye[/B]

As you know from the thread in the Benz bin I decided to tour the Isle of Skye with my time off.

I had decided that as I had an immensely enjoyable tour last March towards the end, I would repeat the idea but tour somewhere differently.

Thing is, the weather started off terribly and watching the weather forecast was depressing. My plans were ruined but there was a glimmer of hope in the form of a sun over Skye.

Quickly charged Nikons, checked tyres and basic fluid levels in the car (added a couple of litres of screen wash) and hit the road.

The forecast for Sunday was epic, clear blue skies but cold. Saturday was a hellish day but I had the winter tyres on. I took the direct route to Skye on Saturday which takes you along some of the finest driving roads Scotland has to offer. The majestic A82 and A87.

There was snow, and high winds so drifting snow was encountered on the run to Ballahulish. In fact I encountered several over turned lorries and vans on the drive up, which was a timely reminder to use the speedtronic feature of my Mercedes and set it to a lower speed of 50mph, strong gusts of winds made the driving trecherous particularly on the Rannoch Moor sections of the 82.

Deep snow was encountered and I was glad of my winter tyres

_DSC0208 by [email protected], on Flickr

Getting out of this laybe was easy with minimal wheel spin. The cold had got to me, so I aimed for the Ballahulish hotel for Lunch and began the descent through the pass of Glencoe.

Its amazing what 500ft or so descent makes. No snow, but windy.

DSC_0019 by [email protected], on Flickr

Lunch itself was excellent and the hotel comes highly recommended, generous portions, good service and reasonable price and a big car park to keep your Mercedes safe, not that crime here is a problem, but its best to keep your baby safe.

The drive from here takes you half way up the Great Glen and you turn off at Invergarry and hit the A87. This is the finest driving road and it was a feature of the tour.

I mean look.

_DSC0217 by [email protected], on Flickr

If a road like this doesn't excite you, IMHO you should not be driving, and despite the winter tyres that give a vaguer steering feel and lower grip threshold (not always a bad thing) there is decent fun to be had even between 50 and 60. Mercedes I suspect with the C class decided not to spend the money on corrosion prevention judging by the state of my alloys or the interior trim, which is IMHO very average for a car of this price, but rather on dampers and decent springs.

The driving on this sort of road is immense and you can take pretty much every corner between 50 and 60, and the shocks do such a good job of keeping the car upright and it never comes close to bottoming out. It's incredible such a humdrum estate car can provide so much entertainment.

See that Loch in the picture. It ain't real. Its called Loch Clunie and is in fact a resevoir.

DSC_0023 by [email protected], on Flickr

One thing I feel the Scots can learn from their brethern in Wales and England is how to make an attractive resevoir. Places like Ladybower and Lake Vwyrwn are actively more scenic due to the Dams that were built. This is a monstrosity. But we do owe a fairly large debt of gratitude to this Dam as its given the A87 its path, and the path it treads is a long, sweeping and undulating one which makes it truly epic for those who like driving. And chances are, as you are reading this, you like driving.

Remember my chat about the weather...

Well, the further North and West I went this got better. At Kintail (15mi or so short of Kyle of Lochalsh) I shot this. Clear sky, strong wind, no snow. A good indication of the day ahead on Skye.

_DSC0238 by [email protected], on Flickr

My speeds were curtailed due to the bad weather. Really curtailed in sections, normally I really hoof it along here but conditions and tyres (winter tyres IMHO really perform poorly above 50mph) but a direct upshot of this was

_DSC0249 by [email protected], on Flickr

Day Two: Touring Skye:

I took a B&B in Broadford. I had planned on sleeping in the car to keep the costs of the tour down, but the level of cold weather (nearly 0c) meant discretion took the better part of valor. The B&B was only £30per night and I like a good fry up so money well spent.

I decided to earn my Breakfast, so took a 5min drive down the 87 to place called Breakish and got my early morning image I travelled so far to get...

DSC_0033 by [email protected], on Flickr

Now, I've never really been to Skye, so took a punt on heading to Portree and Staffin as looking at the topography is the hilliest and being a landscape photographer, I felt this was the correct course of action to take.

Along the A87 you get some truly remarkable views....

In order of seeing them

1. Loch Ainort

_DSC0266 by [email protected], on Flickr

2.Scurr nan Gillean (I think)

DSC_0056 by [email protected], on Flickr

The road itself is truly remarkable, and as a major road is double track and well sighted, you can really gun it along here just be mindful of sheep and rough bumps. The C sport is perfectly suited to this. To be fair my old E could have been terrific up here, but the mid corner bumps would have been nastier in the E. The shocks keep sudden body movements better in check and the lighter mass (200kg) really is felt. It's as if Mercedes went against their brief of making cars for the motorway and built something fun and sporting instead. Its terrific and I reckon engine aside, on a twisting road, it would hold its own against a GTi Golf I borrowed and possibly an impreza, it grips tenaciously, turns where you want it to, and resists roll. Understeer is much better contained actually than in a FWD GTi Golf but the grip levels etc are similar.

Terrific fun and the roads really do cater for a press on attack driving.

Further up at Portree, I decided to aim for Staffin. I wanted to particularly photograph Old Man of Storr. I did twice...

DSC_0061 by [email protected], on Flickr

Even further up you get to the Falls at Kilt Rock, the light was nasty mid day light but you can still get the idea...

_DSC0290 by [email protected], on Flickr

Staffin is great for wild life and bird watchers. I am not hugely interested in this, but this is where you go if you are. If I had longer, I'd have attached my 50mm prime and gone looking for wildlife but the mood was for a very different Wildlife. The cooked variety....

Which led me to dine here

_DSC0294 by [email protected], on Flickr

The Flodigarry Hotel does a truly inspiration menue of Scottish cuisine. Its not cheap, but one of the finest places to dine in Skye, and yes, I did go in dressed like that (I can sense gizze having a fit) and Haggis Neaps and taties, roast beef and a strawberry cheese cake later I was fit for the road...

Mercedes built a remarkable car here, so I decided where best to test it than a road that says "15% Gradient, road normally impassible in winter conditions". A sign that says that always leads into a road that challenges car and driver. Manual mode selected and I charged up it, hair pin bends, single track, some well sighted sections, it has the lot. Not quite as exciting as Beleach Na Ba, but not far off it.

_DSC0305 by [email protected], on Flickr

This road takes you to the other side of Skye, which to be honest, isn't as pleasant, so I headed back to Old Man of Storr and got a less cloudy picture.

_DSC0311 by [email protected], on Flickr

I had a little time on my hands, so went to the pub to get Irn Bru (I don't drink alcohol no more so I guess the lack of mentioning of Distilleries in this thread is disturbing to some, but they are of no interest to me whatsoever so no pics of them) and planned my sunset trip....

There is no finer location for a Sunset in Scotland than Elgol, Isle of Skye. This is a fact.

So I went there. The drive to Elgol is amazing fun in a C sport and in my last car was a slight PITA, it was just a tad too large. 50mph may not seem fast to you, but up here with sheep, single track roads and tight bends in sections its plenty, and its fun. The superior shocks on this car really show up, I chinned my old 211 several times along here at speeds 10mph less, the C would take more, but its driver would not.

Anyway. Sunsets.

Don't you just HATE other people. The best spots were taken by a chap who was running a class for lesser photographers. Between them they sown up the best spot, but they make an interesting subject...

_DSC0351 by [email protected], on Flickr

The sunset wasn't the best, so I took this

_DSC0358 by [email protected], on Flickr

Drove back and the days touring was

DSC_0069 by [email protected], on Flickr

Day 3: Elgol, Hebridean light and the journey back

I was not pleased about the other photographers ruining the spot I wished to take my sunset and I was not at all pleased with the picture I took. Elgol has dramatic views over the Black Coullins and is simply one of my favourite places. The road is truly epic and as such, to conclude a road trip there is most excellent. After breakfast I went back....

_DSC0378 by [email protected], on Flickr

I am happy now. Elgol is classically used as a sunset location for photographers. Personally, it looks cracking during the day. Look at that water. It really was JUST like this

_DSC0383 by [email protected], on Flickr

However the weather was changing, so I drove back.

Clearly the snow hadn't really shifted much. Back at Glencoe the Pap of Glencoe is covered in snow

_DSC0408 by [email protected], on Flickr

Had lunch in Ballahulish (the fish and chips come highly recommended) and got battered by wind in Glencoe, the pass of Glencoe covered in snow.....

_DSC0419 by [email protected], on Flickr

Given the cold weather and undulating terrain, I've bettered the combined figures in 2 out of 3 runs....

DSC_0070 by [email protected], on Flickr

So, once again, the C class estate shines in Scotland.
Not another of your interesting "Touring" threads.

Can't you just talk about politics, religion or whatever topic the Daily Wail are stirring up hatred of that day?

Seeing your pictures makes me think I really ought to try my new camera out...though I'm sure the results will be pants compared to yours.
Not another of your interesting "Touring" threads.

Can't you just talk about politics, religion or whatever topic the Daily Wail are stirring up hatred of that day?

Seeing your pictures makes me think I really ought to try my new camera out...though I'm sure the results will be pants compared to yours.

Why do that, when I can read lots of personal insults about me then swap them back.

I'm for the chop, but if this place is going to be troll of the day on their high horse, and sanctimonous clap trap about some non news event, I am gone and all the better for it.

The touring threads, enjoy this one, its certainly the last:devil:
Closing before this thread goes sour.
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