Day 16: Inchnadamph to Durness – Another beard and the beauty of Cape Wrath

70 miles with 6,000 feet of ascent. An exceptional day in our Lejog adventure as we rode through amazing scenery from Inchnadamph to Durness and then were lucky enough to catch the ferry at Durness to cycle out to Cape Wrath. How special is that??

A damp start to the day

A damp start to the day

It was raining hard as we left Inchnadamph Hostel at 07:45. There was a herd of deer grazing nearby and they were unconcerned as we cycled amongst them. After a short stretch along the Loch we began our first long climb with a lovely, albeit gloomy view back ‘doon the way’.

We undulated through deserted, boggy moorland, accompanied by the sound of rushing water and our cuckoo until the long descent to the sea loch at Kylescu where we met Pete who was riding to Durness with us today.

Pete joined us for the final couple of days

Pete joined us for the final couple of days

The bridge at Kylescu replaces a ferry over the Loch but we didn’t linger here to photograph it as we were now on a mission to get to Durness to catch a ferry (kindly arranged by ‘mission control’) at 12:30. This meant a morning ride of 43 very hilly and, today, wet miles . We stopped at Scourie for sandwiches and the preferred extra – plain chocolate Bounty- and continued along this empty, undulating, mainly single track A838. We had tantalising glimpses of Loch Laxford and Loch Inchard and we could smell the sea.We had one last big ascent taking us to the east of the empty North West corner of Scotland through the mountains, before the long descent to Durness.

Pete and Steve in the mountains before the long descent to Durness

Pete and Steve in the mountains before the long descent to Durness

We had made it with time to spare and John Morrison the ferry man was ready for us with his able seaman Duich – a Border terrier cross. It was quite exciting crossing the Kyle of Durness in this small boat with the bikes.

Ferryman John Morrison and deckhand 'Duich'

Ferryman John Morrison and deckhand ‘Duich’

It stopped raining!

The 11 miles to the Cape Wrath lighthouse is on the U70 which is a very rough track through one of Britain’s last few remaining true wildernesses. Pete decided not to ride this on his more delicate road bike and went out to the Cape on a minibus.

U70 (unclassified ) road

U70 (unclassified) road

The U70 (unclassified) road passes through the Cape Wrath Firing and Bombing range. They were not active as it is Saturday.

The first views of the Kyle of Durness after we ascended away from the slipway were spectacularly beautiful.

The Kyle of Durness

The Kyle of Durness

The road was very rough with lots of steep ups and downs so progress was quite slow.

Just as I thought we were never going to get there, suddenly, there it was The Cape Wrath Lighthouse.

At last the Cape Wrath lighthouse comes into view

At last the Cape Wrath lighthouse comes into view

The lighthouse was built by Robert Stephenson in 1828 on the most north westerly tip of the Scottish mainland. The name of the headland derived not from the stormy waters of the area but from the Norse word for turning point for here the Norsemen turned their ships to head for home.

Cape Wrath lighthouse

Cape Wrath lighthouse

The cliffs at the lighthouse are very high with off-shore stacks and plenty of evidence of tidal activity on this calmest of days. There was a spectacularly huge red fog horn!

The foghorn

The foghorn

The long ride back was drier and brighter and the weather had improved to a perfect sunny afternoon. We were soon back to the beautiful beaches of the Kyle of Durness. The sea had retreated further, leaving ridged patterns in the sand.

Patterns in the sand of the Kyle of Durness

Patterns in the sand of the Kyle of Durness

There were 5 cyclists for the return trip in the ferry boat. John Morrison has operated this service since 1984 so getting 5 bikes and cyclists on board was a challenge easily met. It was a bit of a squeeze but we made it.

A crowded ferry on the return journey

A crowded ferry on the return journey

All that remained was to ride the last 4 miles to Durness SYHA where we are very comfortable at this lovely hostel in another very special place

Tomorrow another 70 miles with 6000 feet to Thurso. 100 miles left to John O’ Groats.

The GPX File for today’s ride is here. The side trip we made to Cape Wrath is not included.

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13 thoughts on “Day 16: Inchnadamph to Durness – Another beard and the beauty of Cape Wrath

  1. Jennie

    What an amazing day! The photos are lovely and I think you will have a great day today too. Looking forward to seeing the pictures later. xx

    Reply
      1. Barbara

        Thanks John

        Cape Wrath was in the plan from the start but we didn’t know how it would work out with the ferry and the Military Range. We were lucky with both in the end and although the 22 miles detour on a very rough track was quite ardulous, it was well worth it. We also enjoyed the extra miles out to Dunnet Haed and Duncansby Head

  2. Lesley

    What are we going to do without the daily blog, the great photos, the cuckoo, the flag and Steve seated at various picnic tables eating again??????

    Reply
  3. Averill Marks

    Glad you have got as far as Durness and Cape Wrath!
    I met you in Lochranza YH.
    You have inspired me to start planning my own trip.

    Reply
    1. Barbara

      Thanks Averill .

      It was lovely to meet you at Lochranza. We were very lucky with the weather as we headed up North as the wettest day was Lochranza to Oban. We were soaked through when we reached Oban.

      Enjoy the planning – it’s part of the fun. Our route wasn’t the shortest but it was certainly very scenic and avoided busy roads.

      Reply
  4. Pingback: How did the kit work? | Old Bat On A Bike.

  5. Eric Gorton

    Hi Barabra. I’m the one in the orange hat squeezed into the boat on the Kyle of Durness. Very pleased to meet you both. Super day out to Cape Wrath. Glad you got it all done too. I didn’t do End to End like you guys but I did do 1000+ Got my pic taken at JoG too the same day you were there.
    Eric

    Reply
    1. Barbara

      Hi Eric
      Lovely to hear from you. Yes I think the Cape Wrath add on was the highlight of the trip! Glad you made it to JoG OK. We had a slow ride to Wick into a headwind afterwards to catch the train to Inverness.

      What are you going to do next?

      BX

      Reply
      1. Eric Gorton

        Hi Barbara,
        Yes that headwind to Wick lay in wait for me too. I even had a short session of horizontal rain. Thankfully it blew through quite quickly.
        My next trip is a supported ride with a cycling club from Pisa into Tuscany then ferry to Sardinia, ferry to Corsica and finish with another ferry to Nice for a ride on the Cote D’Azur. Should be a bit warmer on this trip. 12 ferry trips in Scotland already done – it’s the year of the ferry.
        How about you? Anymore pedalling or is the call of the Kayak getting stronger?
        Eric

  6. Pingback: Cape Wrath Trail | Paul Miller

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