Another superb day cycling north towards John O’ Groats. The weather was kind to us and stayed dry. We rode 67 miles with 5,500 feet of ascent along quiet, often remote roads and constantly returned to the sea on the West Coast. The route was very scenic and varied with some tough ascents and some very long, rapid descents.
We left the Flora MacDonald Hostel at Kilmore at about 07:15. The small group of Eriskay ponies with their one week old black foal were standing on a small hill silhouetted by the morning sun.
We headed North on the A851 along the Sound of Sleat with wonderful views across the sound to Loch Hourn – water of Heaven.
The road was very quiet with just the school bus passing us on its way to Uig. At Broadford we turned towards Kyleakin and the Skye Bridge. This road was quite busy, the surface was rough and we had a headwind so we were pleased to reach the Skye Bridge and enjoyed crossing over it to Kyle of Lochalsh.
We left the main road and climbed out of the town towards Plockton. We had great views back to the bridge and over Loch Carron to the Cuillins on Skye. We rode on the C 1222 (or was it 2221) through lush forest at Duirinish after which we found ourselves grinding up yet another massive hill towards Stromeferry.
There was a great view and picnic table close to the top so we laid out our food for our second breakfast on the flag and refuelled much to the bemusement of the constant stream of foreign tourists – German, French and Dutch – who stopped briefly to capture the superb view down Loch Carron.
We enjoyed a very swift descent – the GPS recording 41.5mph
The site of the land slip that closed the A890 and caused a ferry service to be set up at Strome still narrows the road. The railway connecting Kyle of Lochalsh to Fort William travels along this shore of Loch Carron hugging sea level. The road has one notable 14% hill. Grind slowly up and fly swiftly down. At Strath Carron we turned the corner (ignoring a tea shop) and with a tail wind at last made good time to Lochcarron golf club for tea and scones. There was a need to refuel as there were some huge hills ahead
The first hill out of Lochcarron was long and quite steep but the descent to Kishorn was longer – about 2 miles and less steep so we could get up to an exhilarating 40mph again. The road was very quiet.
Loch Kishorn has very deep water and concrete North Sea oil platforms were built here, floated out there and sunk into position. Technology has moved on and now the yard is quiet.
The next 15 miles from Kishorn to Sheildaig had superb scenery. It started with a great road – funded by EU along Loch Kishorn and then followed a single track A896 though open moor with high snow capped mountains all round.
The road gently ascended with views to Maol Chean-Dearg over Loch Damph. To the east was Beinn Damh the first of the huge volcanic massifs that signal the start of the Torridon Mountains.
Once more we descended at top speed, very good fun, and detoured into the charming village of Sheildaig located on Upper Loch Torridon.
Another huge 600 foot ascent brought us high above Loch Torridon with fantastic views of the Loch and across to Liathach soaring at 1024m we stopped to admire the view
and Steve had some Grandad zzzzzzz,s before the final high speed descent into Torridon, our destination.
Tomorrow we have a shorter but very scenic day to Dundonnell.
The GPX file for today’s ride is here.