2010 | trike | highlands
On Sunday 16th May I started cycling a 700-mile route following to the coast of Western and Northern Scotland on my recumbent trike. On Thursday 28th May I reached John o' Groats. To keep me focused, I raised £1690 sponsorship on behalf of the RNLI.
The route covered two extreme points of mainland Britain – the most Westerly point of mainland Britain at Ardnamurchan as well as the most Northerly at Dunnet Head. I also took in significant points, John O'Groats and Cape Wrath and have started the trip with a visit to the Isle of Iona. Along the way I visited some the major mainland lighthouses and the RNLI lifeboat stations.
getting to the start
14th and 15th May.
Landy to Dumfries, then parents' Berlingo to Oban.
The route covered about 36 miles and climbed over 2600 feet, from Oban to Craignure by ferry, then passing Torosay Castle and Pennycross to Fionnphort and the passenger ferry to the Isle of Iona. Very much a warm-up half day. Accommodation was to be at the Iona Hostel—however, in the end I decided to opt for St Columba Hotel (full dinner as opposed to tin of ravioli!) and didn't regret my choice.
The route covers about 63 miles and climbs about 3000 feet, from Iona to Fionnphort by passenger ferry, then passing Knock, Kellan and Achleck to Tobermory and the Tobermory Hotel.
A visit to the RNLI lifeboat station to start the day... The route covers about 52 miles and climbs about 2870 feet, from Tobermory to Kilchoan by ferry, then to the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly point of the British mainland, then along Loch Sunart past Salen to Strontian and the Strontian Hotel.
The route covers about 60 miles and climbs about 3000 feet, from Strontian to Polloch (very steep up and down) and then along forest and estate tracks on the shore of Loch Shiel to near Glenfinnan, then eastwards along the northern shore of Loch Eil to Banavie and Neptune's Staircase, to Gairlochy and then along the shore of Loch Lochy and Loch Oich to Invergarry and the sumptuous Invergarry Hotel.
invergarry – glenelg
The route covers about 37 miles and climbs about 2000 feet, from Invergarry along the shores of Loch Garry and Loch Quoich to the remote settlement of Kinloch Hourn, where a private ferry took me about 8 miles across Loch Hourn to Arnisdale, to rejoin the road to Glenelg and the Glenelg Inn.
The route covers about 53 miles and climbs about 4900 feet, from Glenelg to the ferry to Kyle Rhea on the Isle of Skye, then over the bridge back to the mainland at Kyle of Lochalsh and a visit to the RNLI lifeboat station, past Duirinish and Stromeferry along the shore of Loch Carron to Strathcarron, then along the other shore of Loch Carron to Lochcarron, across a small pass to Tornapress on Loch Kishorn, and then the climb up the Bealach na Bà (2053′) before descending to Applecross. We thought this would be the toughest day but in the end Saturday and Sunday ran pretty close (for different reasons). This is the day that probably stands out for sheer determined achievement getting over the Bealach na Bà!
First big climb of ±900ft immediately on leaving Kyle Rhea ferry, about two miles long, includes two stretches between 14% and 20% beneath cliffs in last half mile to summit. Second climb of ±250ft at Erbusaig to Drumbuie, about mile 16. Third climb of ±300ft from Achmore to viewpoint above Stromeferry on the main road. Lunch: Lochcarron, a choice of eateries. Fourth climb of ±400ft from Lochcarron to cattle grid.
Enormous climb of ±2000ft from Tornapress to Bealach na Bà; first stretch between 14% and 20% about half a mile after crossing Russel Burn before hairpin; second stretch between 14% and 20% after climbing out of main corrie before swing left, then a stretch steeper than 20% just after hairpin near summit. Descent from the Bealach na Bà includes one stretch between 14% and 20% about a mile below the viewpoint, soon followed by a stretch over 20% and half a mile later another stretch between 14% and 20%.
Overnight at B&B beside campsite entrance.
The route covers about 61 miles and climbs about 3000 feet, from Applecross around the peninsula shoreline past Cuaig and Loch Shieldaig and Upper Loch Torridon, past Kinlochewe and along the shore of Loch Maree before crossing a low pass to Gairloch on the shore of Loch Gairloch, and the Old Inn.
The route covers about 82 miles and climbs about 4750 feet, from Gairloch along the shore of Loch Ewe, past Gruinard Island and along the shore of Little Loch Broom to Dundonnell House, over a pass to Loch Broom and Ullapool and the Arch Inn.
The route covers about 63 miles and climbs about 4400 feet, from Ullapool past Drumrunie and along Loch Lurgainn and Loch Bad a' Ghaill, past Stac Pollaidh and Suilven, to Lochinver, with a visit to the RNLI lifeboat station, then along the coast past Quinag to Kylesku and the Kylesku Hotel—a gem of a location, lovely hotel, great team.
The route covers about 61 miles (including the Cape Wrath detour) and climbs about 1900 feet, from Kylesku along the coast to Scourie, past Laxford Bridge and the lonely lands northwards to Keoldale, where a passenger ferry connects to the road to Cape Wrath lighthouse and back. The ferry was not in operation due to the tide, so I headed for the Wild Orchid guest house in Durness.