I read a ‘defense of sugar’ opinion piece in a Woman’s Day a couple of months ago and the morbidly obese author claimed that “sugar creates memories”. While I can’t agree with this exactly (I don’t generally eat sugar) I do agree with a broader sentiment that food creates memories. For Jeff and I travel would not be nearly half of what it is without the sensory component of stuffing our faces day after day.
When we think through each country we have visited there is always one absolute standout. In Sri Lanka it was deep fried mini vadai (chick pea balls) – we ate literally hundreds. In Malaysia I could not walk past a Kueh stall (tapioca dessert cakes) without stopping. In Vietnam it is Pho from a street vendor, Thailand would be Pad Thai but from one place only, ever, period…Thipsamai in Bangkok, and the first thing I learnt to ask for in Mandarin was the Shanghai delicacy of 2x soup dumplings – “Liang ge Shengjian Bao!”.
Before arriving in Scotland I had only considered famous dishes such as haggis, black pudding, or a full Scottish breakfast. Others think Scotch whiskey or a great craft beer. And while we had all of these, and most were delicious, none can beat the real star of the show…the humble oat cake.
An oatcake is basically an unsweetened digestive cookie without the chocolate or a creamy wholegrain cracker. It only contains oats (the only cereal that will grow in the Scottish climate), vegetable oil or suet, baking powder and sea salt. It has all the texture of a biscuit without the sugar, dairy or gluten. As a sugar, dairy and part time gluten abstainer this is what has been missing in my life. The sheer variety of textures, shapes and flavours means one can never tire of this scottish gift to earth. And at between 59p and 2 pounds a packet they are what I call a bargain!
Suitable for literally any moment in the day – trust me, we tested this thoroughly chowing through at least 20 packets in as many days. I recommend pairing with hummus for lunch out on the trail, with peanut butter and dates for dessert, and with blue cheese when you don’t have to run for the next few days (if you are like me and running + dairy products = sudden bush adventures).
I might even add “importation of Scotland’s greatest delicacy” to my possible future career ideas. Or perhaps add to my will to not bother burying me with jewels, boats and other useful items for the afterlife – just stick in a case of oatcakes and be done. In the meantime I will mourn the lack of them in France – I hear they hate all food ‘British’.
The Skye Trail stages 4-7
A much less popular route than the West Highland Way. Skye itself is very popular with many day walkers, drive-by tourists and climbers, but the trail is certainly not overpopulated. The route starts at the northern most point at Rubha Hunish, traverses the Trotternish ridge and runs through the famous Cuillin Hills before ending at Broadford.
After leaving Portree, stage 4 is easily the least interesting. A 10km stretch along a road is far less scenic than the previous 2 stages but at least quick. The day ends with a nice bankside trail to the spectacular viewpoint of Sligachan. Accommodation is rare here, we stayed at the Sligachan Bunkhouse which was nice and comfortable. Food is even harder to come by, the pub is the only option if you don’t lug your food with you.
It brings us great pain to describe stage 5, we never completed it. It should have been a spectacular day through the Cuillin mountains, Glen Sligachan and out to the southern town of Elgol with a cliff walk touted as having the best views in the British isles. Instead, for us it ended in a devastating decision to turn back in the face of 40 knot head-on winds and horizontal rain to face a lengthy bus connection to the end of the line. Because of the long daylight hours we managed to run a third of the stage from the other end and reclaim our losses. Stayed at a comfortable B&B named ‘Rosecroft’.
A short day followed to take us to an even smaller town named Torrin. We popped over the ridge overlooking the bay we missed out on the previous day. Great views and interesting fell running near the end. Had a nice cafe dinner from Torrin and another B&B treat at Fearnoch.
The last day is a fairly flat coastal walk with views to the isles south of Skye and the Blaven munro. The trail ends anticlimactically in Broadford.
Distance: 20km, 18km, 16.5km and 20km
Duration: 4 days
Difficulty: None of this should have been difficult on paper but the Scottish weather prevailed!!