Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

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robing
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Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby robing » 12 Aug 2017, 12:24pm

I know this area very well and have visited frequently in my lifetime. I'm thinking of heading up there week beginning 23/8 for mainly a camping/cycling trip, taking the car too. I want to visit Mull, Ardnamurchan,
possibly Islay/Jura and/or Outer Hebrides. My question is, are they getting busier with tourists?
Recent reports from the Isle of Skye would suggest so, and checking accommodation availability generally would back this up.
I'm a bit concerned about everywhere being so busy and full of tourists, even campsites.
Has anyone been there recently? The Scottish schools go back next week, but the England and Wales still have a few weeks to go.

Norman H
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Norman H » 12 Aug 2017, 12:58pm

The short answer is yes, but some worse than others.

I too listened to the radio reports from Skye, and it confirmed what I found in 2015. I arrived on that occasion from the Outer Hebrides and was immediately struck by the contrast. It was some years since I'd been on Skye, apart from a quick dash from the bridge to the ferry at Armadale, and the speed and volume of traffic on the main roads didn't make for relaxed riding. There's an appeal, from a resident of Mull, on another thread, for consideration from visitors, especially with regard to using passing places on single track roads. It may be a selfish cyclist's point of view to say this, but I hope they don't upgrade the many miles of single track roads on the Scottish islands. If they do I'm sure it will encourage even more visitors to arrive with their vehicles.

robing
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby robing » 12 Aug 2017, 1:03pm

I found the same thing. I also cycled back across Skye after the Outer Hebrides in 2015 and was amazed by the contrast. It was quite unpleasant cycling with busy roads all the way from Uig to Broadford (a bit better to Armadale) and a huge headwind didn't help. I put that down to the road bridge to Skye and bigger main roads generally on Skye. But I didn't know whether it was becoming busier across the whole region? I hope Mull isn't becoming spoilt with too many visitors.

If so, I think the weak pound could have a lot to do with it - encouraging more UK residents to have a staycation and making it more attractive to foreign visitors. It certainly ain't the weather at the moment! Also the new RET fares make it much cheaper to take vehicles/motorhomes across to the islands.

brynpoeth
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby brynpoeth » 12 Aug 2017, 4:52pm

Scotland is a bit like Wales...

In Wales the Berwyns should be quieter, in Scotland I would try the Grampians, they look good on the map

Trouble with the Highlands, there are not so many roads, +/-1
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rualexander
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby rualexander » 12 Aug 2017, 4:59pm

The west highlands and inner hebrides have been very busy in summer for a long time.
Accommodation has always been booked out in July and August.
Skye seems to have been reported as being extra busy recently though, but then it's not a great island for cycling anyway.
The creation of the North Coast 500 route has a lot to answer for in drawing a lot of vehicular traffic to the northwest.
As with anywhere, better to go out of peak season, and the midgies will be less of a nightmare anyway.

ambodach
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby ambodach » 12 Aug 2017, 5:55pm

Mull is certainly very busy but if you just wait for a few minutes while ferry traffic passes in convoy not too bad. I went to Iona a couple of weeks ago and was quite shocked at the numbers going on the ferry. One resident I know complained that too many cars are getting to Iona now tho' you do need a permit. When I arrived at Fionnphort at 0900 the big free car park was nearly full. Lots more bikes also on Iona but they are not a problem.

gloomyandy
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby gloomyandy » 13 Aug 2017, 11:47am

There certainly seems to be a lot more visitors these days. I'd certainly agree about Skye I've often visited on the way to Uig to get the ferry out to the Hebrides and it seems to have got much busier in recent years. Same with the North West, I've visited the Ullapool area pretty much every year for the last twenty or so years, and with the NW 500 there is a lot more visitors on the roads. Even the Hebrides seems to be seeing a lot more visitors particularly in camper vans. I've noticed more signs asking people not to camp in places (which it turns out is often aimed at camper vans rather than folks in a small tent) and the (wonderful) roads do seem to be busier these days. But it is still a fantastic part of the world to visit, especially out of the main season. Some islands like the Uists can be very quite and are well worth spending time exploring rather than just being seen as a place to drive/cycle through.

My top tip would be to visit the Small Isles (Rum, Muck, Canna Eigg). Not a lot of cycling to be done, but each one is very different and make for an interesting trip. I visted them for the first time this year spending a night on each, I will certainly be going back. They have a true island feel to them.

robing
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby robing » 13 Aug 2017, 5:38pm

I'm sure the increase in traffic particularly motor homes is due to the new reduced RET ferry prices. There's so much to see and do on Mull. I first went in 1980 as a child and have been many times since. I still haven't seen the Fossil Tree, Carsaig Arches or the whole of Ulva! I'd also like to visit Coll and Tiree, as well as Islay and Jura - never been to any of them. The Outer Hebrides are great as well, quieter and often seem to have drier weather than the Inner Hebrides, as well as fewer midges!

bogmyrtle
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby bogmyrtle » 14 Aug 2017, 10:05am

If you are unlucky you may be on one of the islands when a cruise ship drops by.
Hell on earth.
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irc
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby irc » 14 Aug 2017, 10:28am

I've seen complaints about traffic volume on single track roads. Solution is better roads surely not reducing visitors?

Moonbeam
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Moonbeam » 14 Aug 2017, 11:11am

Studies show 'improved' roads lead to more traffic.

Not sure we ought to be wrecking more of our natural habitat to make things easier for tourists. It is, after all, what they come to enjoy.

Bonefishblues
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Bonefishblues » 14 Aug 2017, 11:21am

ambodach wrote:Mull is certainly very busy but if you just wait for a few minutes while ferry traffic passes in convoy not too bad. I went to Iona a couple of weeks ago and was quite shocked at the numbers going on the ferry. One resident I know complained that too many cars are getting to Iona now tho' you do need a permit. When I arrived at Fionnphort at 0900 the big free car park was nearly full. Lots more bikes also on Iona but they are not a problem.

What do you actually do with a car on Iona???

Bonefishblues
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Bonefishblues » 14 Aug 2017, 11:22am

irc wrote:I've seen complaints about traffic volume on single track roads. Solution is better roads surely not reducing visitors?

I don't think so. As previously commented, something changed the moment Skye became more accessible, and not for the better.

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Wanlock Dod » 14 Aug 2017, 12:07pm

irc wrote:I've seen complaints about traffic volume on single track roads. Solution is better roads surely not reducing visitors?


It's just yet another case of road building schemes, which are sold as solutions to congestion and poor traffic flows, promoting the very causes of congestion and poor traffic flows. We are clearly not going to learn that building roads does not solve traffic problems.

The problem for cyclists however, is that these roads which were formerly quiet single track roads are often now modern trunk roads with traffic doing modern trunk road speeds, generally making them not too pleasant for cycling if there is much traffic. I love holidaying in Scotland, but after a short tour of the Hebrides last year I won't be doing any more cycling up there as the traffic just took all the fun out of it for me.

LollyKat
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Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby LollyKat » 14 Aug 2017, 12:24pm

The island of Cumbrae has long been a favourite for daytrippers from Glasgow to go for a day's cycling, even non-cyclists. The road round the island is flat and only 10.5 miles long, you can hire all sorts of bikes there, and is very popular with families. But the other day a friend took her children (7 and 10) there and found that because of the RET a lot of people were now taking their cars over, and the road was no longer as quiet as it used to be. She said they found it quite scary and won't be going back :( .