Thursday 12th April
Welcome to the Costa del Scotland! (Danny’s pun). Today could have been played out in Spain rather than the north west Scotland setting we had before us such was the weather!
We ate breakfast looking out over a stunning coastline and sat transfixed whilst watching the resident heron fish for his. This was one of the nicest mornings I’ve had on my trip so far and waking up in our tent made it all the better.
After a speedy pack down we got on the road at around 8am. We had 55 very hilly miles to cover today so getting off in good time was essential. We rode east and soon arrived at a long hill that took us through some stunning grassland. The rising sun over the distant mountains was spectacular and made for some impressive photos.
We were stopped in our tracks by a herd of red deer maybe eight or nine in size. They crossed the road ahead of us and I was quick enough with my phone to capture a shot of them – we felt really lucky to have witnessed such incredible animals in a true natural habitat.
We continued on uphill and were passed by another cyclist, however 15 minutes later he was flagging us down for help as he’d punctured and had no way of fixing it! As it turns out our new companion, JP from South Africa, had only just bought this bike and was riding it back to from Kilchoan to Mallaig – I’m not sure he knew what he was undertaking! Once the puncture repair lesson was over JP rode with us for a while to check the tyre was holding, then pressed on leaving us to our ride.
A little annoyed that we were now behind the intended timings for the day having only done 20 miles by 11am we pulled in for a pit stop and to stock up on supplies for the day. This gave me the energy boost I needed as afterwards we made solid progress, despite the constantly undulating (and sometimes very steep) profile.
We were now heading north and back on track to reach our end destination. The weather was getting increasingly warm and both Danny and I were in just shorts and a jersey by this point – something I would never have thought I’d be wearing after all of the cold and snow I have encountered thus far! We rode past a perfect jetty on the main road which was begging for a photo shoot so we pulled over for a rest.
Despite the glorious weather the day was tough, really tough. This part of Scotland is particularly hilly and they came thick and fast – as soon as we’d finished descending it was time to start the next! We were faced with continual gradients of double digits and they really took their toll on me. That’s why I was glad when we reached Arisaig where we bought food to cook for dinner and also treated ourselves to a cold beer which we enjoyed whilst looking out over the bay.
From here it was only five miles along an amazing coast road to our campsite for the evening which was nestled close to a beautiful stretch of beach. We arrived and headed straight to the water where I would finally dip my feet in the ocean (for unbelievably the first time on my whole trip!). It was like an ice bath and reminded me we weren’t in Spain after all.
After pitching our tent and cooking and eating dinner we were worn out so retired to bed.
Unfortunately the great weather can’t last forever and looks as though tomorrow it will get worse. I am unsure as to whether this will alter my schedule but I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as best I can (signal/WiFi permitting of course!)