Good to be reminded in your own language. Right before the Skye bridge
The A87 towards the Skye bridge was not too bad at that time of the morning, despite my fears of heavy traffic. In less than 6 miles after setting off from the campsite, I was crossing over the bridge, which afforded nice views of the Skye/mainland coastlines.
|There is a cycle path on the pavement as you cross the Skye bridge|
|See you soon Skye|
|Road to Plockton|
Plockton was probably one of the prettiest villages I have come across in my cycling career (and probably as a tourist also!). The location was idyllic, probably helped by the fact that it was sunny and comfortably warm! It certainly was a place to come back to and relax, or even better, do some sea kayaking.
|Surely amongst the tinniest Post Offices in the UK?|
|Loch Carron, while having lunch|
Phil, the guy I met back in Arran, had mentioned about Bealach na Ba pass (pass of the cattle in Gaelic). It happens to be the highest road in the whole of the UK, and the longest (though certainly not steepest!) climb one can attempt on a bike in the country. It raises to above 600 m from sea level, which certainly isn't an Alpine or Pyrinean climb, but not too bad either.
Locharron is the latest proper town until the mountains of the Applecross peninsula. A plan was made. I would set up camp, leave the panniers and cycle up the pass before I got dark. It is a bit of cheating I have to admit, but still, with a 16 kg of bike under my legs, it would be a bit of challenge.
The campsite (£4 per person per night) was a nice field run by an elderly family, with basic but good facilities. They were obviously not expecting any guests as when I set up camp there was nobody at reception. I was the only camper there also. When the owners finally returned, I quickly had a chat with them about how long and how steep the pass was...Unfortunately I could not gain any additional information from them, as I could not understand a word of what they were saying, despite their efforts to speak clearly. Perhaps they too were from Glasgow?
|Applecross peninsula mountains|
Leaving Lochcarron I was soon confronted with a very steep road, which then flattened out. About 10 km later, I turned on to the Applecross road for the 8 or so km up the pass at 600 m (2053 feet).
The scenery was great and so far the weather had been very gentle. But it was about to get nasty. The road climbed very gradually for the first 5 km, but it then got fairly steep for the last 3 km, with the infamous switchbacks that feature on all the cycling magazines. I only stopped once to let a car pass and to get some calories in. It was very quiet and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole climb.
|Must get nasty in the winter!|
|Still very gradual|
|Nearly at the top|
|At 624 m elevation. Carry on West and you get to Applecross. Perhaps next time?|
Back at Locharron campsite it was now dark, so had a shower, ate dinner and planned the following day. Inverness was only 100 km to the East, so in 5 hours I could pretty much get there the following day if I wanted to. My train back to London was not due until two days later, so will end up having an extra day in Inverness, where I could enjoy a day ride without panniers around the Loch Ness.
- Odometer: 92 km
- Max speed: 72.7 km/h
- Moving average: 16.3 km/h
- Pedalling time: 5h 40min