So here we are on The Isle of Skye with a car rammed full of camping gear yet the ideal place to relax after such a long drive eludes us. For those who didn’t catch part one we are in Applecross which I must say is a stunning place! Despite doing such a long drive I am so glad we didn’t plump for the first spot we found to pitch up. As we drove around the coast a little camping nirvana came into view as if it were set to a choir of glass breaking sopranos.
My immediate reaction was “this thing is rear wheel drive, we’ve got no chance”. As I am sure you all know BMW’s are not reputed for their off-road capability. Well, pre X-drive anyway. Luckily however a small tarmac path to an entry point came into view and we knew with a little graft we could make it work.
I should describe the view. From where we pulled up as you looked out to sea was a half-moon shaped beach with sand that looked like it had been flown in from Jamaica and a view of the ocean framed by hills that was just beautiful. As the outdoor lot reading will also appreciate, when camping on Skye in March a little wind protection is an added bonus, especially when provided by mother nature. It was perfect. There was a small walk to the beach with all the gear, which kept the cold off, but this was a small price to pay.
With the tent now pitched and the frontier stove’s flames gracing us with a welcome bit of heat and light the sun set in the most dramatic fashion. Skye is so Scandinavian and rugged, which is its charm but right there on that beach there was nothing jagged or aggressive about this place.
As morning came I can confirm it was nothing short of arctic outside. Luckily and what I must stress is critical we had all the right gear so the tent and ourselves were toasty warm. Especially with the dog wedged between us. The day was to take us to “The Old Man of Storr” and “Neist Point” among others so off we go. Navigation in your car on Skye is essential as the road signs are few and far between. The whole island is like one enormous rally stage and is treated as such by the locals. Be aware though the police will nail you to the wall if they catch you speeding here. With the BMW’s adaptive headlights illuminating the apex’s we are making good progress. Smooth but quick which is good because I can enjoy my driving and the wife doesn’t realise how quick we are going. Adaptive suspension set to soft for further stealth childishness as we proceed. The roads are narrow but due to lack of use they are like glass in the most part. Be aware though this can change quickly so don’t get caught out. A puncture on Skye would not be a good scenario! This was on my mind a lot with the BMW run flats. Great technology, but once it has done its job you’ve got 100 miles and then it has to be changed. I can’t imagine 19” run flat tyres on Skye are ten a penny.
Despite the terrain the locals all seem to drive fairly run of the mill little hatch backs which surprised me. I thought I would see more pick-up trucks and Land Rovers but it wasn’t to be. I can imagine that a rear wheel drive car here in the depths of winter is utterly useless though. Small, light, front wheel drive cars are famously good in adverse weather so maybe that’s a sensible and cost-effective way of reliably getting around.
Regardless of what graces your driveway though don’t be put off. There are plenty of places to stay too if camping doesn’t appeal. One of which we enjoyed as it is situated two minutes’ walk from The Talisker distillery so that stumble wasn’t too testing.
For those tempted by Skye but daunted by the long distances in the car there is another option. For our trip home we decided to do in a stages. There is another beautiful beach in a small town called Mallaig. I must confess we ended up in a hotel again that night as the horizontal rain and gale force winds meant that didn’t get out of the blocks.
On the whole, I loved Skye despite the occasional rain storm its rugged beauty is breath taking. You simply find yourself on the set of The Lord of the Rings most of the time. I must admit that while it came in second to the place, the BMW was impressive to say the least. The vehicle itself, specification aside was just perfect for the task of “family road trip”. Space a plenty, efficient, quiet, reliable (obviously), it has everything. I would add you do need the auto box. Buying one without that is an error as is buying anything other than M-Sport if you’ve got any sense. Some say the “GT” isn’t a good-looking car and in its basic form I agree. However, dress it in the M-Sport trim, fit the big 19’s and paint it in Estoril Blue and it is a very different animal indeed.
If you choose to look into the 3-series range further I would recommend X-Drive. It adapts intelligently to the driving you are doing for optimum grip and safety while only doing a couple of miles per gallon less than its 2-wheel drive cousin. The car does sit 10mm higher but it’s a small price to pay.
THE AUTO VIP.