We got an early morning train to Edinburgh, and before we knew it we were pushing our bikes out of Waverly station and into the bright Edinburgh sunshine. It was definitely above 20 C (70 F) and the town centre was full of people out enjoying the good weather. We took Mateo on a quick tour of the main sights, since he had never been, and walked our bikes up to Edinburgh Castle to get the obligatory start-of-tour photo. By the time we were ready to set off Northwards, it was 3pm.
|Forth Railway Bridge|
As we headed on from Kinross we were looking for places to camp, but it actually took a while to find something. Everything was farmland and little towns. Finally, around 9:30pm, we found an excellent spot. It was a big hump in a field, just off the road but because it was raised we were not visible from the road. It required a bit of effort to get up there, but it was great. We set up camp and cooked our pasta and pork steaks for dinner and enjoyed the light evening even though it was past 11pm.
|Great wild camp spot|
We stopped in Coupar Angus to buy lunch for later. From there it was on to Blairgowrie, the gateway to the Cairgorms, and navigation became a non-issue as we were on the only road around (the A93) for about 50km. We had a funny moment on this stretch of road when Mateo was taking a 'natural break', lost his balance with his bike, and peed on himself!
|Entering the Cairngorms|
|Climbing Glenshee (photo credit: Mateo Cordoba)|
We were in a wooded area near a river, so there were some midges to contend with, but not too bothersome. Alberto and Mateo used their Spanish ingenuity to whip up a stew with carrots, potatoes, meatballs, rice, and tomato. It was delicious! We had Scottish Strawberries for dessert and went to bed with the light finally fading at 11:30. The entire A93 had been one of the best roads we've ever cycled.
|View from our wild camp spot outside Braemar|
|Enjoying the views in the Cairngorms|
With a bit of sustenance we set out to tackle the climb from Cock Bridge. It was a 20% incline immediately after the pub, and we all struggled! But we all made it up to the ski resort and then began the descent, during which we passed the largest number of touring cyclists anywhere on the trip (who were all climbing up from the North). We rolled downhill all the way into Tomintoul, a cute town which clearly does well with tourists. It was still such a beautiful day that we bought some snacks from a shop and sat in the sun for a while.
|The climb after Cock Bridge|
Alberto made a trip to the camp's store in the morning and came back with several exciting breakfast options, including eggs, which turned out not to be that exciting when it came time to washing up the pots. Still, we enjoyed a good breakfast and then headed out to do the 70km to Inverness.
It was mainly downhill and we were motivated to make good time, so we didn't stop much, apart from a quick trip to the Tomatin Whisky Distillery where we had a wee taste and look around their shop. By 2pm we were rolling into Balloch, on the outskirts of Inverness, to restock in the large Tesco there.