PistonHeads.com Forum

RE: Skye by Alfa Romeo SZ: My Dream Drive

RE: Skye by Alfa Romeo SZ: My Dream Drive

Wednesday 23rd November 2016

Skye by Alfa Romeo SZ: My Dream Drive

PH man Chris Rees blows the cobwebs out of his Alfa SZ in spectacular style



Name: Chris Rees
Where: Skye loop from Fort William
Car used: Alfa Romeo SZ

Want to get away from it all? To Scotland!
Want to get away from it all? To Scotland!
The route:
"We're following a sensational circular route from Fort William around Skye and back again. Both of the main approaches to Fort William - the A82 from the south or the A86 from the east - are spectacular, but I personally favour the A82 through Glen Coe, as it avoids having to trudge up the over-trafficked, camera-infested A9. In addition, the A82's other-worldly plateau above Ballachulish is one of the great experiences in British driving.

"Once in Fort William, follow the A830 west to Mallaig, following Loch Ail. As more and more locals peel away, you're left with a traffic-free stretch twisting up over pretty hills with fantastic views of peaks, lochs and islets.

"Mallaig is a busy fishing port with a small vehicle ferry across to the Isle of Skye, though it's summer only (end of March to late October). Since most people access Skye via the A87 bridge, the ferry is a quieter way to greet the island, a pleasant 30-minute glide into Armadale.

"The roads in Skye quickly open up and are surprisingly wide, so you can make progress although beware mobile cameras. Join the A87 towards Portree for a short distance before peeling off west on the A863. The stretch to Dunvegan over hills is quiet and even offers overtaking opportunities.

"Follow the A850 out of Dunvegan and either take the northern loop via Uig or head straight down the A87 to Portree, which offers plenty of cafes and hostelries but is teeming with tourists. As you carry on eastwards on the A87, catch the superb view north to the islands of Raasay and Scalpay before you leave the island via Skye Bridge (now toll-free). Then take time to enjoy the long, undulating, largely unpopulated run back on the main roads to Fort William.

Ferry only runs from March until October
Ferry only runs from March until October
Why it's a dream drive:
"If you think the west coast of Scotland is all slow-speed single-track roads, this drive should convince you otherwise. While the famous Applecross road further north is barely one car width across, the roads nearer Fort William are broader, two-lane affairs. Many roads here have widened, brand new, smooth surfaces courtesy of EU funding; very few sections remain unmade. This allows you to drive with pace and appreciate the scenery, with less need to concentrate on what may be coming the other way. That was, I'll admit, a worry in the left-hand drive Alfa Romeo SZ, which can be tricky to place on single-track roads. In fact, the SZ proved the perfect companion for this touring route: comfortable yet sharp, although I did press the adjustable suspension button to its 'high' setting just in case...

"Some of the scenery here is simply awe-inspiring: Britain's tallest mountains, endlessly changing sea lochs, wildlife including whales and eagles, while the dearth of population means that your progress is often completely unhindered by other traffic."

This place comes recommended!
This place comes recommended!
Highlights and lowlights?
"Pretty much everywhere is spectacular up here. The further you get off the tourist trail, the better. There are options to go really off the beaten track - for instance, the 20-mile single-track "road to nowhere" off the A87 that ends at Kinloch Hourn, or the remote 'parallel roads' of Glen Roy off the A86 near Fort William.

"Choose the date of your drive with care, though: if you go in August, you could well spend your finest hours stuck behind a German-registered motorhome. And if you're unlucky with the weather, the Scottish 'dreich' can be oppressive. It'd be a shame to drive the route in a cloud, as you'll miss out on some of the most poetic scenery in Europe."

Guessing the car wasn't bad either, right Chris?
Guessing the car wasn't bad either, right Chris?
Sights, stop-offs and diversions:
"Much of the pleasure of this route comes from appreciating whatever view or side road takes your fancy. Of course, you have spectacular mountains to explore like Ben Nevis (which we were lucky enough to climb on one of the 30-odd days in the year when it isn't covered in cloud) and natural wonders like the Old Man of Storr on Skye.

"Cultural highlights include the Glenfinnan Viaduct on the road to Mallaig, and the iconic, brooding Eilean Donan castle on the A87 near the Kyle of Lochalsh. For a lunch stop, I'd recommend the Lochside Crafts cafe at Dunvegan, which serves entirely local produce and offers superb sea views from its windows. Another pleasant detour on Skye is the Fairy Pools waterfalls via Carbost and Glenbrittle.

"Speaking of Carbost, a distillery tour is a must and Carbost is home to Skye's only whisky maker, Talisker. The tour here is far better than Fort William's weary Ben Nevis distillery; Dalwhinnie further east is also highly recommended. By the way, most establishments will let you take your 'tasting' whiskies away with you - remember that the drink-drive limit in Scotland is well below England's!"

Follow the route here.
 

 

 

Author
Discussion

MikeGoodwin

Original Poster:

1,079 posts

42 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
I have fond memories of Arisaig from my holidays as a young lad. Bet the roads are epic, and what a lovely car. I actually dont think Ive ever seen one.

wildatheart

131 posts

104 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Great tips for Scotland, bookmarked, many thanks.

Almost bought a very good SZ in Belgium a few years ago but ended up with a 964 instead. One thing that put me off was the cost of the headlights... How much are they these days?

s m

15,741 posts

128 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
cool

Performance Car Aug 1990 eh Leins!

swisstoni

5,962 posts

204 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
I did that route in the summer of '15 and it is a spectacular area.
Unfortunately the on-road enjoyment is severely tempered at that time of the year by motorhomes everywhere. Why some people would want to drag their front room around Scotland is beyond me. But there we are.

Leins

6,294 posts

73 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Fantastic, very jealous of both the car and trip!


s m said:
cool

Performance Car Aug 1990 eh Leins!
Just thinking the same thing, Brian Laban really liked the SZ
Advertisement

masermartin

1,619 posts

102 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Great article - I did a similar tour with a mate of mine a couple of years back - we were in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games and had a few days without any tickets. We weren't overly lucky with the weather but, even so, the scenery and roads were spectacular!

havoc

23,344 posts

160 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Nice write-up and sounds like a great trip.

Another "we did something similar" from me - been up that way twice, but only once to Skye. Both times we headed north from the A87 rather than south though, to Wester Ross / Applecross, or up to the Gairloch / Kinlochewe loop (very worthwhile, both for roads and scenery).

Hospitality up there is great, weather not always so good... hehe

zeb

2,690 posts

143 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Now you given me an idea damn you......hehe

sjabrown

1,158 posts

85 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
My home patch. Come in May or September and get quieter roads and a good chance of decent weather. Or even now: perfect blue skies, snow capped mountains, stunning reflections in the lochs.

ducnick

812 posts

168 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
That brings back some memories. When I was a kid Lotus had an SZ test mule for a few weeks on the roads of Norfolk and Suffolk and I got to sit in it. I remember the high waistline and the string to open the doors like yesterday. Out of all the mules they had, the SZ was my favourite. It even beat the he amazing Corvette zr1 engine development car that I was lucky enough to go for a ride in.

Skyedriver

6,822 posts

207 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Another lovely motor passes my gate and I'm not there to see it.

If we ever take up full time residence back in our little place up there (we lived there from 2004 to 2009 but moved away for work and stuff) I'm going to set up a seat at the front gate and sit there like a little garden gnome watching the traffic. (And getting wet and eaten alive by midgies).

Echo the before May and after September a not only the traffic lighter, the midgies have departed (well alnost).

Incidentally, the Calmac ferry (Mallaig to Armadale) is down to 3 trips a day I think. (Winter timetable).

s m

15,741 posts

128 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Leins said:
Fantastic, very jealous of both the car and trip!


s m said:
cool

Performance Car Aug 1990 eh Leins!
Just thinking the same thing, Brian Laban really liked the SZ
So much so he entered it for EVO Car of the Year ( or the equivalent back then ) not long after

Interesting to read the comments of the journos/see the voting on the Alfa chassis compared to the holy grail of E30 M3s as well!

Plus an AUDI WON!!!




jamies30

5,701 posts

154 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
ducnick said:
I remember the high waistline and the string to open the doors like yesterday.
String to open the doors?



Leins

6,294 posts

73 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
s m said:
Plus an AUDI WON!!!
Two 4WD Turbos in the list too. I hope that doesn't catch on! wink

SevenR

187 posts

89 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
The West coast is amazing!! nice write up. Makes me want to go again.
I go every year and this year the trip was late in the year in October.
i recommend going to Applecross and staying overnight then head out round the peninsula.
We were the luckiest I've ever been for the weather.




haggishunter

1,090 posts

168 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
I think you'll find that the Mallaig to Armadale ferry runs all year but is weather and tide dependant.

DrSteveBrule

1,412 posts

56 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Just perfect. I love these cars more than my first-born (sorry Sophia).

s m

15,741 posts

128 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Leins said:
s m said:
Plus an AUDI WON!!!
Two 4WD Turbos in the list too. I hope that doesn't catch on! wink
Not to mention a fwd Turbo!

One of the 4wd-ers is an Integrale so I think it's allowed though smile

Cotty

32,360 posts

209 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
God that looks fun

knebworth01

42 posts

45 months

Wednesday 23rd November 2016
quotequote all
Lucky man, SZ is one of my dream cars.