Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Moonbeam
Posts: 9
Joined: 6 Aug 2017, 10:06am

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Moonbeam » 14 Aug 2017, 12:26pm

There are hundreds of small roads in the Highlands that are relatively empty, as you would expect given our low population density. Tourists tend to gravitate towards places they can mill about touristy attractions. If you want peace and quiet, head away from known places. There are now many hundreds of miles of off road tracks perfectly suited to any bicycle. They serve estates, wind farms and forestry, but are generally freely accessible, and free of 'traffic' 99% of the time. There are many options to be exploited, given a little imagination and forward planning. We ride one particular route once a week, thirty miles or so, and it is unusual to meet more than a handful of vehicles. Exceptionally scenic too, taking in high ground, a hill pass, and a riverside section. All on public B roads, and can be extended to sixty or eighty miles easily without venturing onto 'busy' roads. These routes are there, just look at maps and find the dead end roads that lead to nowhere known. Take a picnic. :D

Norman H
Posts: 570
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 4:39pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Norman H » 14 Aug 2017, 12:41pm

bogmyrtle wrote:If you are unlucky you may be on one of the islands when a cruise ship drops by.
Hell on earth.


I was Scuba diving on Mull some years ago when a cruise ship anchored overnight in Tobermory Bay. The next day some crew came ashore and set up a refreshments gazebo on the Cal Mac pier. The ship's launches then proceeded to disembark the elderly passengers, mostly Americans it seemed. It was typical Mull weather and each passenger was accompanied down the high street by a smartly uniformed crewmember bearing an umbrella. They returned to the pier for coffee and were then ferried back to the ship. I doubt that any of them spent more than an hour on Mull. They then immediately upped anchor and disappeared into the mist.
Last edited by Norman H on 14 Aug 2017, 1:23pm, edited 1 time in total.

Norman H
Posts: 570
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 4:39pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Norman H » 14 Aug 2017, 12:46pm

As to whether improved roads lead to increased traffic volume, it's invariably the case that they do, but some may see this as a good thing.

Tourism is a significant earner for the Scottish economy, probably more so for the island communities. Very few sectors of modern economies come without some downsides. In an ideal world, the residents of the Scottish highlands an islands would get to decide whether the negatives of tourism are a price worth paying for the positive economic benefits. Although, in practice, I wonder how many of them will have a say in the matter.

rualexander
Posts: 2205
Joined: 2 Jul 2007, 9:47pm
Contact:

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby rualexander » 14 Aug 2017, 3:53pm

LollyKat wrote: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 :( .


The cost to take a car over now is £12.20 return plus the cost of driver and passengers at £3.20pp, not exactly cheap.
What was it before the RET system came into effect? Can't have been much more than that.
Cumbrae wasn't any busier with traffic the last time I was there, maybe about a year ago.

Wanlock Dod
Posts: 87
Joined: 28 Sep 2016, 5:48pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Wanlock Dod » 14 Aug 2017, 4:09pm

I would imagine that Skye is now a viable day trip form either Fort William or Inverness, so rather than virtually everybody who visits staying the night etc, lots of visitors will be spending little on the island but contributing to the traffic etc. One of effects of major road developments, which are often presented as the only way to bring much needed investment into the economy, seems to be that the investment actually gets sucked away by the road and eventually occurs at the other end of it. Certainly the view from one of the local islanders that I saw on the news seemed to reflect that principle.

ambodach
Posts: 534
Joined: 15 Mar 2011, 6:45pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby ambodach » 14 Aug 2017, 4:56pm

Cars on Iona? You drive over to the beach, turn round and drive up past the Abbey to the road end and then get the ferry back. You would be as quick walking but you have to be able or willing to walk. A bike is the only sensible option but I saw some on probably hired bikes having a hard time. There are a couple of gentle hills but the Dutch style bikes I saw did not look easy.

Middle of the road
Posts: 29
Joined: 9 Jun 2017, 6:50pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Middle of the road » 14 Aug 2017, 8:14pm

My wife and I enjoyed a few of the Inner and Outer Hebrides in May on day trips from our caravan.

Particularly quiet and very enjoyable, having fab scenery and a cafe, were Kerrera, Lismore and Luing. We also had a week on the Isle of Mull and enjoyed some of the 'dead-end' roads, one being to Loch Buie Post Office and a bit farther around the coast to Croggan and beyond, another to Duart Castle and again, on to Grasspoint. The Isle of Ulva was also a cracking day out, although we were walking there were cyclists on the island and there is a fantastic cafe.

Outer Hebrides-wise, we cycled on North Uist, Grimsay, Baleshare, Benbecula, South Uist and Eriskay and once again, these were fantastic islands with wildlife in abundance. We saw more sea and golden eagles than we had ever seen, including two close passes with a sea eagle gliding across a field not 20 feet from us on South Uist and a very similar situation on Luing. We spent nearly 2 hours at Craignure harbour watching an otter hunting and playing on the shore just about 50 yards away and a stone's throw from the shops and the Calmac Pier.

I don't know how busy these islands would be in the summer but they were wonderfully quiet in May. And the weather absolutely fantastic too!
Last edited by Middle of the road on 14 Aug 2017, 8:19pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dawesboi
Posts: 29
Joined: 13 Mar 2017, 9:37pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Dawesboi » 14 Aug 2017, 8:19pm

Skye is indeed getting busier year on year. We have lots of people coming for relatively short spells- maybe three days on average. This seems to be long enough to tick off the 'must see' attractions. I don't know who is drawing up this list but it seems that absolutely everybody is taken in by it. Nobody seems to have time to actually enjoy the island at a leisurely pace.

I do think improvements to roads would be useful, ideally alongside better cycle routes. There are miles of old tarmac singletrack roads lying forgotten, they just need to be joined up and signposted. Improvements to visibilty on main roads can only be a good thing from everybody's perspective.

The other thing we need is more wet-weather attractions. Hopefully that wouod encourage people to stay a bit longer and not be in such a rush. There's Dunvegan Castle and the distillery, but not much else, and both are a bit boring for kids.

gloomyandy
Posts: 812
Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 10:46pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby gloomyandy » 14 Aug 2017, 10:45pm

Wanlock Dod wrote: 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.


That's rather sad, was it the traffic actually on the Hebrides that you found bad? When were you there? Was it in any particular place or any type of traffic that caused you to not enjoy things? I must say it has not been my experience of that part of the world. I've always found the roads to be relatively quiet and drivers to be considerate. But I tend to visit late May early June so perhaps things are worse at other times?

irc
Posts: 4231
Joined: 3 Dec 2008, 2:22pm
Location: glasgow

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby irc » 15 Aug 2017, 12:24pm

Moonbeam wrote: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.


Wrecking the environment by making an existing road double the width? There already is the "more traffic" in Skye, hence the news stories. What we need is the roads to cope. Is anyone seriously suggesting that (for example) widening the Glen Brittle road to two way traffic would ruin the environment and cause a vast traffic increase? Then there is the fact locals would benefit during the off season as well.

The big increase on Skye traffic would be the bridge. Done years ago. No point doing a bridge and not upgrading singletrack where needed.

Wanlock Dod
Posts: 87
Joined: 28 Sep 2016, 5:48pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Wanlock Dod » 15 Aug 2017, 1:33pm

gloomyandy wrote:...was it the traffic actually on the Hebrides that you found bad?


Yes, but to clarify it wasn't so much the traffic density, rather the attitude to driving that (presumably) comes with never having cycled yourself, not known anybody else who cycles, hardly ever come across cyclists on the road, and quiet a few recently improved roads, seemed to produce. Lots of people seemed to be driving as though it was their right to be able to do 50 mph everywhere, regardless of road conditions, and half a metre of clearance is more than enough for a bike. Basically I think that they just aren't very good drivers, but their driving skills are generally adequate for the quiet road conditions that they usually encounter. Tourists seemed much better behaved, and are generally also in less of a hurry.

We were there in about mid May and did a loop from Dingwall over Lewis, the Uists, and a bit of Skye. The mainland had much higher traffic volumes, but slightly better driving. I'm quite traffic averse, but it just turned what was supposed to be relaxing and fun into something else. These days I go to the Netherlands if I want genuinely recreational cycling.

Norman H
Posts: 570
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 4:39pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Norman H » 15 Aug 2017, 2:17pm

irc wrote:
Moonbeam wrote: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.


Wrecking the environment by making an existing road double the width? There already is the "more traffic" in Skye, hence the news stories. What we need is the roads to cope. Is anyone seriously suggesting that (for example) widening the Glen Brittle road to two way traffic would ruin the environment and cause a vast traffic increase? Then there is the fact locals would benefit during the off season as well.

The big increase on Skye traffic would be the bridge. Done years ago. No point doing a bridge and not upgrading singletrack where needed.



It wouldn't ruin the environment immediately but it would certainly lead to increased traffic. The increased traffic would in turn lead to yet more demands for improvements. Before you know it you'll have a planning application from Premier Inn for the camp site at the end of Glen Brittle. And don't think it can't happen.

It's this creeping nature of development that is so insidious. Its inevitable, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't resist it. If we knew the landscape that our forefathers knew, we would mourn its loss. As it is, we only have three score years and ten on this planet, and when our time comes we may well regret the changes that we have witnessed, but we will be replaced by another generation who are destined to repeat the cycle.

gloomyandy
Posts: 812
Joined: 16 Mar 2012, 10:46pm

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby gloomyandy » 15 Aug 2017, 2:44pm

Wanlock Dod wrote:
Yes, but to clarify it wasn't so much the traffic density, rather the attitude to driving that (presumably) comes with never having cycled yourself, not known anybody else who cycles, hardly ever come across cyclists on the road, and quiet a few recently improved roads, seemed to produce. Lots of people seemed to be driving as though it was their right to be able to do 50 mph everywhere, regardless of road conditions, and half a metre of clearance is more than enough for a bike. Basically I think that they just aren't very good drivers, but their driving skills are generally adequate for the quiet road conditions that they usually encounter. Tourists seemed much better behaved, and are generally also in less of a hurry.



I must say I'm rather surprised by this. I've generally found drivers in the Hebrides to be very good with cyclists, if anything the ones I have had issues with are the drivers of (often rented) camper vans who do not seem to understand how wide the van is. I would have thought that any local would be very used to meeting cyclists as these days it is a very popular cycling destination. Maybe I've been lucky but I've never felt uncomfortable. Maybe the increase in numbers is producing some level of frustration, but I didn't see any evidence of that when I was on the Uists earlier this year.

irc
Posts: 4231
Joined: 3 Dec 2008, 2:22pm
Location: glasgow

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby irc » 15 Aug 2017, 6:15pm

Norman H wrote:
irc wrote:
Moonbeam wrote: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.


Wrecking the environment by making an existing road double the width? There already is the "more traffic" in Skye, hence the news stories. What we need is the roads to cope. Is anyone seriously suggesting that (for example) widening the Glen Brittle road to two way traffic would ruin the environment and cause a vast traffic increase? Then there is the fact locals would benefit during the off season as well.

The big increase on Skye traffic would be the bridge. Done years ago. No point doing a bridge and not upgrading singletrack where needed.



It wouldn't ruin the environment immediately but it would certainly lead to increased traffic.


Speculation. Traffic on Skye is probably limited by the amount of overnight accommodation. Local road improvements may not make much difference to traffic volume. Ask the locals and see how many decline road improvements. Who are we to say they need to stick with sub-standard infrastructure to keep our playground unspoiled.

Bonefishblues
Posts: 2814
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: Scottish Highland and Islands - busy?

Postby Bonefishblues » 15 Aug 2017, 6:22pm

**Controversy alert**

Sometimes the worst judge of whether or otherwise to develop the local environment are the inhabitents of said environment. :?


Return to “Touring & Expedition”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: MartinBrice and 5 guests