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Wednesday 19th June

  • From: Carrbridge
  • To: Tain
  • LEJOG miles cycled: 74.98 (66 planned)
  • Miles cycled: 945.34
  • Map of the Journey 

The Bluck Odometer is OK, don’t panic, we had two diversions today!

Past inverness, en route to Tain,
We finally ran into the rain.
It was more than a shower,
But less than an hour –
And then out into sunshine again!

Before I forget I must mention the young family we met yesterday at the Alpin Nursery tea-rooms. We were about to set off when we got chatting (because of our pennants). They were just thinking about getting back into cycling as a family. After 10 mins of chat about bikes and cycle paths in the area and down to Glasgow, where they lived, they dipped their hands in their pockets and donated a large note. I am still bowled over by these generous acts – everywhere there a decent kind people.

We left Carrbridge in the morning for a pleasant ride up to Slochd Summit and gradually descended to Inverness – about 30 miles away. The scenery changed with the descent from rugged wild hillside to managed rural farms and eventually urbanisation.

We nearly got lost in Inverness where a new dual carriageway interrupted the ride and signage disappeared but we simply went down the new carriageway on our own and refound the path further along.

Very soon on the National Cycle Network Route 1 we came across a bike café and workshop – the aptly named Velocity. What a lovely place where you can see into the workshops and watch people at work. For Robert it was also a vegetarian establishment so was double heaven.

I was feeling very lethargic/sluggish this morning and felt like I needed more of a rest so as it was nearly noon we re-ordered Latte and cake (exactly the same again) and rested a little longer than usual. This evening I worked out I was dehydrated and hence the sluggishness, with it being cooler I had made the mistake of not drinking as much. So tonight in the bar before the meal I drank several J2Os to top me up before hitting a modest intake of beer!

Out of Inverness to cross the Murray Firth we were diverted by roadworks on the Kessock bridge. Our diversion, just to get onto the bridge, was over 2 miles or more but did take us past Inverness Caledonian Thistle’s football ground, a fine sight. I was reminded of the best football headline ever – “Super Callie are fantastic, Celtic are atrocious” to be said to rhyme with supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – which I am sure I have spelt wrong!

It was windy over the Kessock and we were on a bumpy path with traffic right next to us on the other side of the barrier. As large lorries buffeted us we were thrown off balance which was unnerving with a very large drop to the side and what felt like a smaller than normal railing. You wondered at what point you would be going seaward. This was not unique to me as a couple further on relayed the exact same feeling.

The diversion over the bridge then took us to the lovely shore village of North Kessock and the gorgeous tea rooms there. It was really too early to stop again but we saw two bikes we recognized as belonging to a couple in Wiltshire and decided to pop in. They are serious tourers we had met going south out of Blair Atholl two days ago. They were away for 2 months going where they pleased and camping with the bikes. They had caught a train North to Inverness from Pitlochry and were now heading to Shetland. As they were originally going south we had thought we would not see them again. We shall call them the Roberts, as the were riding bikes made by Roberts! The Roberts are very experienced at this and have previously spent three months and two months on cycling expeditions to New Zealand – which made me very envious.

Further on at Dingwall, we found our afternoon stop to be the Tea Posy – a 50s themed café and recycling shop full of odd things including a large selection of teapots. The waitress gives you a teapot to suit your character – an interesting approach indeed. On other occasions the shop holds film evenings and Jazz events. Pretty awesome in a shop that is about 100 yards deep and varies from 5-8 yards wide.

Between Dingwal and Saltburn we hit our second large shower of the entire ride and sheltered under some trees for half an hour or so until it passed –we have been lucky with the weather, although the forecast suggests this might be about to change. I was born in Saltburn – in my case the one about 250 miles south of here. 

In the Cromaty Firth here – a naturally sheltered lock with a narrow opening to the sea – there are a lot of moored oil derricks from the North Sea oil industry – massive structures providing scenery of a different sorts.

We missed the route slightly here and re-planned our ride to the destination this evening, Tain where we had lovely seaside and mountain views over the Dornoch Firth.

We followed the railway line a lot today – almost from start to finish – and it was peculiar that almost every time we crossed it we encountered a train – spooky. This is the line we will be returning on and look forward to seeing the scenery from a comfortable seat.

In the hotel bar tonight we met a retired chap from Middlesbrough (not far from where I was brought up) cycling around Scotland ‘s coasts – something Robert wants to do next year. It’s a small world as we keep discovering on this ride.

5 university students from Bristol came into the bar tonight – they are doing JOGLE (LEJOG from North to South). There combined ages do not come near our two combined ages and they had just finished day 1 and two of then were exhausted and asked us if it got easier as they went South. We had to disappoint them and tell them about the hardest part of the ride – Cornwall. Good luck lads.

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