The Three Peaks Challenge – cycling from Ben Nevis to Scafell Pike

After a good night’s sleep in Glen Nevis we were rested and ready for our first days cycling. As Kathryn is quite inexperienced at cycling longer distances, we planned the first day at a modest 80km with 800m of elevation.

Ready for the off at Glen Nevis

Ready for the off at Glen Nevis

We left Fort William on the A82. There was quite a lot of traffic but everyone was patient and considerate and gave us plenty of room.

As we crossed the bridge over Loch Leven at Ballachulish we had a great view of the mountains in Glen Coe.

Approaching the bridge at Ballachulish

Approaching the bridge at Ballachulish

We rode on the cycle path from Ballachulish to Glen Coe and then on the minor road through Glencoe village and past the Clachaig Inn before joining the A82 again as we ascended through the magnificent mountain scenery of Glencoe and onto the highest of the day at Rannoch Moor. We were lucky with the weather here as the head wind was manageable and the rain was holding off – just a few spots.

Rannoch Moor

Rannoch Moor

As we approached our overnight stop at Tyndrum it started to rain. The rain continued through the night and we started our second day’s cycling from Tyndrum to Ayrshire with the waterproof jackets on.

Leaving Tyndrum for the second day of cycling. It’s raining!

Leaving Tyndrum for the second day of cycling. It’s raining!

The second day’s cycling was 120km with 1200m of elevation. We got going early and were down the A82 alongside Loch Lomond before the traffic built up.

On the A82 alongside Loch Lomond enjoying the scenic ride despite the weather.

On the A82 alongside Loch Lomond enjoying the scenic ride despite the weather.

Our route took us to Arrochar and on quieter roads down Loch Long and GareLochhead.

Unfortunately our planned ferry at Kilcreggan wasn’t operating so we had to drive round the Clyde and pick up our route again above Gourock. It was still raining.

Above Gourock having crossed the River Clyde.

Above Gourock having crossed the River Clyde.

The weather improved as we headed south on pretty lanes through Lochwinnoch and then on very small lanes to Stewarton, through Kilmarnock using the cycle paths and then out the other side through Craigie to Tarbolton.

The rain had started again and we were wet through by the times we finished.

Our third day was once again hot and sunny. We left our campsite at Maybole Walled Garden and started our 115 km ride to Powfoot in Dumfrieshire in warm sunshine.

This was to turn out to be one of the very best days I have had on a bike. We crossed the Water of Girvan in the village of Straiton and then on the B471 and climbed up to 260m onto the open moor towards Dalmellington.

It doesn’t get much better than this!

It doesn’t get much better than this!

We refuelled at the excellent bakery in Dalmellington before continuing on the very quiet and scenic A713 to Carsphairn.  From Cairsphairn we took the B729 over to Moniaive. It is a wonderful road, again over open moor. It ascends gradually to 310m on a well graded road with hardly any traffic.

Kathryn getting brave on the cattle grids on the wonderful B729 from Carsphairn to Moniaive.

Kathryn getting brave on the cattle grids on the wonderful B729 from Carsphairn to Moniaive.

The 10km of gradual descent allowed Kathryn to get up some speed and practice her cornering technique.

10km of descent to Moniaive, great fun!

10km of descent to Moniaive, great fun!

Lunch in Moniaive was followed by more scenic riding on quiet lanes down to Dumfries. The town was busy but we emerged once again on quiet lanes. We followed the River Nith down to Glen Caple before crossing the salt marshes along the Solway Firth to our destination at Powfoot near Annan.

On our 4th days riding we cycled along the Solway Firth through Annan and Gretna Green before leaving Scotland. The ride was a little shorter at 90km but involved some proper hills.

Leaving Scotland.

Leaving Scotland.

The 8km of urban riding through Carlisle wasn’t very enjoyable but once we emerged from Dalston on the B5299 we were once again in fantastic scenery on a quiet road and really enjoying the ride again.

The B5299 from Carlisle to Bassenthwaite is a perfect road for cycling. For just under 30km the road crosses high moorland on unfenced roads. The surface is generally good and the scenery magnificent. Of course scenic, as usual, means it is quite hilly and the route is around the 250m – 300m but it is well worth the effort. There was very little traffic and we really enjoyed this section of the ride. Kathryn did notice that her front wheel was rubbing a little and we noticed that some of the spokes were looking a bit loose.
We stopped off in Uldale at Mae’s Tearoom – Highly recommended.

After lunch we climbed out of Uldale and as the clouds lifted we emerged at the back of Skiddaw.

Entering the Lake District at the back of Skiddaw.

Entering the Lake District at the back of Skiddaw.

We had a magnificent descent to Bassenthwaite and then rode along to Keswick, through the town and out to Borrowdale on the B5289. It was here that a wasp flew into my helmet and stung me on the forehead. I once suffered an anaphylactic shock after being stung by a wasp in my mouth so I was pleased it was only 2 miles to Grange and the end of our cycling for the day. I was carrying antihistamine and a couple of epipens.

Arriving at Grange after being stung by a wasp 15 minutes earlier.

Arriving at Grange after being stung by a wasp 15 minutes earlier.

The allergic reaction to the sting was mild and the swelling was not really apparent until the next day when we woke to the sound of heavy rain on the tents.

Allergic reaction to wasp sting.

Allergic reaction to wasp sting.

GPX files for the four days riding can be downloaded here:

Day 1: Glen Nevis to Tyndrum

Day 2: Tyndrum to Maybole

Day 3: Maybole to Powfoot

Day 4: Powfoot to Borrowdale

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