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??
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.