After three days of quite magnificent weather, including temperatures of 22 degrees celsius, the final day of the Senior’s Tour saw a collapse in all things climate related.
The rain beat down on the roof of our accommodation in Ullapool, The Ceilidh Place Bunkhouse. Imagine the scene: three shortsighted men of a certain age, all busting for a pee. The Wattmeister trapped on the top bunk with no means of getting down and no recollection of how he had ever arrived in this lofty position. There followed a frantic cross-legged scramble for reading glasses in order to consult our weather apps in the vain hope that the rain was a MISTAKE.
The apps confirmed what was happening outside….rain all day plus a top temperature of 9 degrees.
We sought a hearty breakfast and were cheered up by the proprietors of Café Margot who made us thumping bacon and egg baps accompanied by a wicked cup of coffee.
Thus fortified, we headed out like superheros to do battle with the amended conditions and the Braes of Corrieshellach which climb up to the high plateau flanked by monroes Beinn Dearg to the north and Sgurr Mor to the south. The A836 was a tad busier than the roads we had been used to, but we did not complain as we flew downhill with a tailwind towards Garve, Contin and Muir of Ord.
It was bloody freezing. We stopped to drip dry at the excellent Bad Girls Bakery in Muir of Ord. Home baked cakes, coffee and spicy soup may not seem to be the ideal partners, but they did the trick….we stopped shivering…. and dined royally in a puddle of water which we had brought inside from the outside. The owners were incredibly understanding.
Leaving the comfort of the bakery, we headed down the A832 to Inverness for a few kilometres before snucking down a tiny little road at Milton which runs along the north side of the Beauly Firth and delivers you underneath the Kessock Bridge and back to a different kind of reality.
In summary, four days ago we left Inverness to explore the Highlands by bike, and we found quiet singletrack roads which led to moorlands, hills, ridges and mountains with personality, all draped in flowering yellow gorse. Rivers, lochs, waterfalls, and tiny burns were constant companions in the fullness of what appeared to be an empty landscape. The Highlands begin and end in your mind.
Here’s a tip: if you are cold and sodden in Inverness, head for the station and use the shower facilities…..it is difficult to think of a better or more satisfying way to spend £3.50.
The End….for the time being.