Category Archives: Scotland

Day 17: Durness to Thurso – U-Boats and Uranium

Today we were on a mission. We wanted to get across the North Coast of Scotland from Durness to Thurso. This was a distance of 72 very hilly miles through remote wild country.

We had a very comfortable night at Durness SYHA cared for by Mary Ann the Hostel manager. The buildings may look a bit primitive but it is a very comfortable Hostel in a fabulous place. One I will definitely return to.

Outside Durness SYHA this morning

Outside Durness SYHA this morning

Pete joined us and we started riding at 08:00. The first 3 miles were along the coast passing the Smoo Caves and great coastal scenery.

Moorland and coast

Moorland and coast

We descended to a small cove where some people were wild camping and just as we started the climb to follow the road around Loch Eriboll, Pete had a puncture.

Pete's puncture

Pete’s puncture

We quickly changed the tube and were on our way again. Loch Eriboll is a long sea loch and is the deepest sea loch in Scotland. The road follows it a few miles inland. It is a lengthy and deep sea loch which has been used as a safe anchorage for centuries. There was a mass surrender of Nazi U boats between 10th and 25th May 1945. 33 U boat commanders surrendered in a space of 10 days on the 12 miles long loch.

U-1231 - one of the German U-Boats that surrendered

U-1231 – one of the German U-Boats that surrendered

The Western side is very barren moorland with some scattered houses forming the community at Laid. There is some local fishing activity. The road undulated and our interest was held by the Loch and scanning the moor for sightings of deer and curlew. No sign of any sheep, or indeed our cuckoo – had he slept in? Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Day 15: Dundonnell to Inchnadamph – Wobbly bridges and bigger hills

We have had another sunny, scenic day in the North West Highlands. 55 miles with 4,000 feet of ascent, including the biggest hill so far on our Lejog adventure.

The GPS never lies! Big hill ahead!

The GPS never lies! Big hill ahead!

Leaving Sail Mhor Croft Hostel behind at 08:00, we had a couple of fairly flat miles, weaving our way through a herd of goats before the long ascent towards Braemore Junction. Our cuckoo was with us, so all was well. The river that runs beside the road fell down the hill through spectacular, deep gorges and the sight and sound of the tumbling water distracted us from the protracted climb. This was our longest, highest hill so far and we climbed for the best part of an hour. An Teallach at 1062m dominated the scene we were leaving, with the snow topped Fannichs ahead. Continue reading

Day 14: Torridon to Dundonnell – Cuckoos, Convoys and Cascades

Torridon SYHA is an excellent hostel. It was just after 8am when we set off in sunshine and light winds.

Setting off from Torridon SYHA, a bit later than planned.

Setting off from Torridon SYHA, a bit later than planned.

We cycled along Glen Torridon below the towering Beinn Eighe and through ancient Scots Pine forests.

Cycling along Glen Torridon

Cycling along Glen Torridon

The cuckoo which had been stalking us since we crossed the border back at Gretna was still in good voice. Continue reading

Day 13: Armadale to Torridon – It keeps getting better…and hillier!

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.

View from the hostel this morning

View from the hostel this morning

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. Continue reading

Day 12: Tobermory to Armadale – Scenery and Sun on Skye

Mull to Skye today. 63 miles with 6000 feet of ascent. Sun, sea, sublime scenery, shadows, shorts and ultimately Skye.

The weather forecast promised a better day and it delivered a beauty. Blue skies, sunshine, soaring temperatures and even a wind that was sometimes behind us.

We left Tobermory on Mull on the 07:20 ferry heading for Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan.

On the ferry from Tobermory

On the ferry from Tobermory

Ardnamurchan is the most Westerly point on mainland Britain.

That flag again! Ardnamurchan

That flag again! Ardnamurchan

The minor lane steeply wound its way up and down over the remote moorland with its deer grids. We had a great view back across the Sound of Mull from Ardslignish to Tobermory. The sky was blue and in turn the sea – flat calm – was bright blue.

The view back to Mull

The view back to Mull

We eventually dropped down to Glen Borrodale where there were several houses and some evidence of commercial fishing The Ardnamurchan Estate are building a whisky distillery from scratch here. Continue reading

Day 11: Oban to Tobermory – Mull, damp but delightful and a surprise encounter

Today we only had to ride 25 miles on Mull but we chose to extend this by taking a tour around the North West of Mull making a trip of 45 miles but with 4,500 feet of ascent in the last 25 miles.

The weather was misty and damp with occasional periods of heavy rain.

The day dawned grey and wet and frankly quite uninviting. The first ferry to Craignure on Mull was at 09:50 so we had a slow gentle start to the day at the rather plush Oban YHA.

Boarding the ferry at Oban

Boarding the ferry at Oban

We boarded the Calmac ferry via the car deck where we left our bikes. Steve enjoyed a bacon sandwich onboard and after a 40 minute crossing we disembarked at Craignure.

The road north had a little traffic at first including some logging trucks. We saw a buzzard sitting on a tree by the road who seemed quite unperturbed by our passing. No engine!
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Day 10: Lochranza to Oban – The day the rains came.

Arran...looking back over the hills we climbed yesterday

Arran…looking back over the hills we climbed yesterday

Leaving the wonderful Arran port of Lochranza in the sunshine. Crossing the Sound of Bute to Claonaig and then rising North to Oban. 65 miles with 5,200′ of ascent in increasingly ‘humid’ conditions.

We had a lie in this morning as the first ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig is not until 09:30 on a Sunday. We used the remaining time to explore the Castle and shore at Lochranza and to enjoy the morning sunshine.

The Bat and Lochranza Castle

The Bat and Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle

Lochranza Castle

The Kintyre Peninsular was shrouded in mist as the ferry took us across. We were immediately struck by how much more remote this part of the Kintyre peninsula felt after Arran. The ride up and over to Kennacraig and the A83 gave us our first hill of the day. The road was empty with just an occasional isolated cottage and lots of sheep. Continue reading

Day 9: Moniaive to Lochranza – Suicidal sheep on the way to the Isles

The Scottish scenery that we have been looking forward to.

The Scottish scenery that we have been looking forward to.

A fabulous start to the day riding deserted, moorland lanes to the headwaters of the Nith then down through Aryshire to the ferry terminal at Ardrossan. 65 miles before lunch. Excitement at being back on the coast after not smelling the sea for a whole week. Then our first Island. We are loving being on Arran.

We left Moniaive at 0745 after Tim the owner of the Craindarroch Hotel obligingly got up to cook us an early breakfast.

Leaving Moniaive

Leaving Moniaive

The rain from yesterday had cleared leaving a bright sunny morning.

Moniaive nestles in a scenic valley on the River Nith surrounded by low rounded hills. We began a gentle climb straight away and enjoyed the quietness of the morning. In the first hour we saw 1 curlew, 2 cars, we crossed 3 cattle grids, saw 4 deer, 5 hares and 600 sheep.
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