Off again. At least I know where I am going this time--well for the first day or so ! 9.30 train out of Inverness(sitting on the right side of the train this time for best views). Lovely ride as usual arriving approx 2 1/2 hours later in Kyle of Lochalsh. Pouring with rain on arrival just like last time---so took a few minutes to make sure waterproofing was all in place ---including the Ergon rucksack. Took quick look to the Skye bridge again and another look towards that beautiful area of Torridon and the only Alpine cycle climb in the U.K ---the Beallach Na Ba which finishes in the small dwelling at Applecross-----and then we're off again. 17 miles of road until the true start of the ride at Ratagan.It really didn't seem 6 months since I was last here-----seemed like yesterday. Soon arrived at Ratagan and immediately confronted with the first climb of the trip--the 1100 ft climb over Bealach Ratagain. Really steep in parts and at points the Garmin went off the scale when at 20% so not sure what the steepest part would have been. Anyway just grind up that one. Picture of me again at the top with 5 sisters again behind me (this time in cloud ).
Great downhill all the way into Glenelg where we meet the coast again on the shores of LochHourn ,Scotlands most inaccessible and spectacular sea loch.There was a little more life here this time . Previously there was a hailstorm as I passed through. This time the sun was trying to poke through the clouds and it wasn't raining anymore !!Blessings.I saw a sign "Cafe" and had a quick peep inside. Perfect ! Really neat and tidy and local people having snacks and lunch. I was pretty hungry so demolished fried egg and well done bacon roll ( Do you like the detail ?!! ) followed by chips and tomato sauce of course ,can of coke and finally carrot cake and coffee. Refuelled I soon regretted my greediness as it is really hilly and undulating through to Arnisdale.
Arnisdale was beautiful today. The sun was shining and it really looked like paradise looking west over Loch Hourn to Skye and looking east 2000ft mountains loom up at you all over the place. That is where I am heading .It is initially a gentle ride up Glen Arnisdale until it ramps right up and it really is hard even to push the bike. All the time I am thinking of water as the river looks high. I had recognized a lady from last time and she had also recognised me ( I was very flattered to have been noticed at all as a middle aged man !!)and I had asked her about water levels. She said that levels had dropped in the last day or so ---fording the river on the top of the pass should be o.k. I was still nervous as the river was thundering and full of peaty white water as you can see from the pic. No way I was getting into that !! Luckily once I reached the crossing point it was no worse than last time. Just under thigh deep but still forceful.
Once that little obstacle was over it was still hard riding to reach Kinloch Hourn. This pass seems (well does actually) to take a long time. It is hard work but the scenery and desolation out here is truly stunning. This is really getting away from it all !! People don't seem to hang around these parts.Pic with me in blue waterproof is in the middle of it. One other pic looks back to Loch Hourn and then the slightly hazy pic is at Kinloch Hourn.
This is not the end of the day's cycling. There is still 17 miles ( first 3 uphill as I was so gleefully informed by someone in darkness last time ) until the Tomdoun Hotel. It would have been great to stay here again but it has somewhat upsettingly shut through lack of business. This meant a further 20 miles to Invergarry. This would be fine so long as I could make the 8.30 shut off time for food at the local hotel !!! Time to get my skates on again !
The first 3 miles out of Kinloch Hourn are hard work--it is all uphill and steep too. Once over this climb the ride to the Tomdoun Hotel and onto Invergarry is a real pleasure. Cycling along the banks of Loch Quoich and then Loch Garry is undulating but somehow one can keep up a real good pace. I have never seen so many deer as along this section. It is a popular area for them !
Rolled up at the hotel in Invergarry 10 mins late but the mostly Polish staff were very kind and knocked up some soup for me.I then asked the price of B&B and wasn't surprised when they tossed back a figure of £100 at me.
"Sorry but not in my ball park " I said. " Do you maybe know of anyone needing a bit of extra money but not too expensive running a B&B around here"
"Oh Yes ! Marion across the river over there in that white cottage"The kind Polish girl offered to phone the lady for me and when I heard the words "Yes " and "£25 " I was satisfied and made my way round to Marion's and had a veeery warm welcome and a fantastic night's sleep !!
So endeth the first day !
Garmin read out
1626 metres up
1596 metres down
Ride time 6hrs 7 mins.