Just as I enjoy hillwalking and exploring paths in the hills, now that I’m a beginner runner I really enjoy off-road running. There’s nothing better than ambling along for 5-10 miles along a footpath in the hills or the countryside. Due to my current running injury–an overworked Illiotibial Band–I’m still advised by the lovely Julie (my Sports Physiotherapist) not to do long runs, but I reckon I can still enjoy running short sections of remote paths and walking back. So that is what I did last week.
I accompanied hubby to Broadford on the Isle of Skye and I chose to spend a couple of hours running/walking along the Marble Line path. The Marble Line Path follows the line of an old railway track between Broadford and the Strath Suardal marble quarries.
Although this path is not too remote, being no more than 2.5km from a minor road at the furthest point, I was conscious that it is still pretty rough countryside and, being winter, I should go prepared for surviving the elements. All the way there in the car I worried about what to wear and carry. When running I don’t like to carry a rucksack and so far, when out for a couple of hours, have managed with a small belt bag. I usually run in just a couple of layers, but knew I’d have to take more since I’d be walking for over an hour after building up a sweat on the run. I eventually decided I’d wear an extra thin layer and carry my lightweight windshirt, and at the last minute I removed my camera from my belt bag and (with difficulty) stuffed in a thin fleece too.
To warm up before running I walked out of the village and along the single-track road to the start of the path. The path is very unusual for Skye in that it has been made into a path suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The path set off running parallel to the road and was easy going with a very gradual incline. There were a few gates, but I don’t mind the interruption of stopping and starting so much when I’m on an easy (slow) run. I also stopped to take a few photos too, but since I’d left my camera behind, I was frustrated by the poor camera on the iPhone. It felt really good to be running along this trail and I was pleased that I’d got the clothing just right as I was warm, but not too hot (the temperature was about 3°C).
I soon came to a couple of heaps of spoil from the marble quarry and evidence of the railway.
This circular stonework structure supported a horizontal winding wheel to lift railway trucks up the steep incline beyond it. The railway connected the mines to Broadford Pier, about four miles away, and was closed in 1907.
I continued beyond the end of the Marble Line along a slightly rougher path which went uphill from here. I walked this uphill section, but broke into an easy run again as the path levelled out. This is the view looking back along the path towards the marble quarry.
I had planned to stop when I reached a view of Loch Lonachan, before the path drops down to Loch Eishort, but missed this as it was hidden from sight in this direction. It was only when I paid attention to my surroundings and saw that the path was now going downhill beside a burn that I realised that this burn was coming from the loch. (I checked my map too!) Nae worries; I retraced my steps back up the wee hill and soon spotted the loch.
By now the sun has come out, but far from feeling warm, the wind was blasting from the north (the direction I was heading) and it was perishing cold. My poor hands got particularly cold as I had to remove my gloves to take pictures with my phone. I was glad I was carrying the extra clothes, and especially glad the sleeves on my windshirt were long enough to scrunch my hands up inside to warm up slightly. A couple of times I broke into a run for 2-3 minutes on the return leg, simply to warm up after stopping for more photos.
All in all I ran and walked just over 2 hours (running about 35 mins in total) and covered almost 14km/8.5 miles. I arrived back at the village just as hubby got there too.