Tuesday 17th April
I really needed this rest day after being so tired the day before. The thought of packing up all my gear and heading out into the pouring rain was enough to make me contemplate stopping altogether. But after a nice breakfast at the BnB and a quick recalculation of the next few days I was feeling more positive about everything, if still a bit tired and sore!
Danny and I spent some time culling my possessions down to the minimum required, which included taking out some bulky winter clothing which (I hope) is no longer necessary. The nearest post office is in Gairloch so when we arrive there I will package up this stuff and send it home.
Feeling organised and more productive Danny and I wandered down into the village and to the local cafe. By this time the rain had blown over and it was a sunny day – but the wind was up at nearly 30mph and would have made cycling impossible. If the rest day needed any further justification this was it.
Shieldaig isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, and between the pub and this cafe we had now sampled everything it had to offer. However I’m pleased to say both were excellent so whilst there was little competition it didn’t result in bad service.
Nanny’s cafe were selling tea towels produced by the local primary school pupils which depicted the North Coast 500 route, something I didn’t know existed when I planned my ride but nevertheless something which I would be following for the foreseeable future. All of the proceeds from the tea towels went back into buying supplies for the school.
As we were leaving the cafe Sam, of Walk for PTSD, was coming past. He tempted us into the local pub for a couple of drinks before we said goodbye to him for good. I wished him all the best on the remaining two years of his UK coastline walk and we retired back up the hill.
We spent the evening finalising the schedule until Danny leaves me to go back to Berkshire on Sunday. It has been so amazing to have him with me these past 11 days and I really don’t want him to go, do you think his work will notice if he doesn’t return?!
The next few days will be very hilly as we navigate around the various lochs and inlets on our way to Ullapool. Because of this I have decided to stick to the mainland and not go across to Isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides, as we are worried we wouldn’t have enough time to get back and allow Danny to get his train from Inverness (he will be cycling there solo when he leaves me in order to get the train). Also I am enjoying this part of the world so much that we have already made plans to come back with the tandem and do all of the outer islands.
Dinner was a cycle touring speciality – i.e. instant rice with tinned sweetcorn, sliced ham and a red pepper. We wandered along the waterfront looking for a nice spot to use my camping stove however the seriously strong gusts forced us back up the hill and onto the bench in the garden of the BnB where it was more sheltered. The swirling winds kept changing directions and one caught the chopping board which flicked the red pepper in the air, knocked over the speciality Skye Ale I had been waiting for all day, and hit me square in the face. I managed to save a few drops but the majority was over my leggings. I hunkered down in a corner to avoid the wind as best I could and managed to finish cooking – a sudden heavy downpour had us fleeing to our room where we sat and ate, not quite the outdoor dinner we had planned 😂.
Back on the road tomorrow so I’m hoping for light winds and no rain. The forecast is looking favourable at the moment, but as Scottish people keep telling me “it’s no use looking at the forecast” so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!