Want to climb one of the greatest cycling climbs in the UK? Head north, is usually the answer. Like, really north, all the way to Scottish Highlands, just north of the Isle of Skye. Bealach na Bá is unusual for a climb in Scotland in that it goes over the top of the pass rather than through the valley below like most climbs. Some claim it to be the toughest climb in the UK, which I doubt having climbed Hardknott Pass in the Lake District, but it is certainly the most dramatic in terms of length, scenery and remoteness.
Everything you’ve ever heard about the Isle of Skye is true. It is beautiful. For a cyclist, it is paradise. Minus the sun perhaps. It is not called the Island of the Mist or the Isle of Cloud for nothing. Oh no. The romance of ‘cloud riding’ may die by the third hour of riding in the rain, but hey, you are waterproof, non? Besides, the scenery and roads are so amazing you’ll quickly forget about the weather.
There’s that feeling again. Pitter patter. Stomach giggling. A nervous schoolboy awaiting his first kiss. Scotland awaits. A cycle tour set in stone when two years earlier I drove though the magnificent Highland landscapes, jaw in my lap. I shall return, I proclaimed, avec une velo!