Saturday 21st April
Despite the drunk locals waking us up as they talked loudly when going home from the party we slept very well, and I’m pleased to say there were zero stags attempting to gain access to our tent. Their presence was however evident when we were packing away as deer poo surrounded us!
Although today we were only travelling 26 miles they were along the tough and very hilly coastal road. We decided to get going early rather than wait for the local cafe in Lochinver to open and get a head start on the day – the extra time at the end of the day would be useful to reorganise my possessions and do my washing.
It wasn’t long until the hills kicked in and had me taking off the clothes I had started the day in! We turned off the main road and onto the coastal route and the start of the proper hills. The gradient was steep enough to split Danny and I, so I met him at the top where he was deep in conversation with another cycle enthusiast who was here on holiday (although not cycling today). He took an amazing photo of the two of us – one of few we have managed to get together since Danny has been with me.
After a brief downhill we arrived at a campsite – one which we had the option of staying at last night but were glad we didn’t after doing that climb! There was a new rest stop which my NC 500 map didn’t show. Flossy’s was a great place to stop and despite its size stocked a huge range of snacks, drinks and cake!
We reluctantly left and continued with our ride. Now gloriously sunny it was a pleasure to ride today, despite the hills. There were lots of ups and downs until we reached Drumbeg, a lovely little village which had a claim to fame – Scotland’s best store, 2012! It was almost lunch time so we stopped and got an ale (Danny and I are ale converts thanks to Skye Ales) and drank it in the sun on the shop’s handy veranda.
We were entertained by a stand-off between a very expensive Porsche and a not so expensive Ford Focus. To our delight the Ford wouldn’t back down and made the Porsche reverse into a passing place.
We pressed on and the landscape become more barren and the sunshine faded to cloud cover. We would have got cold were it not for the successive steep hills in our path – one of which reached 25%! I was glad when I got to the top and saw Danny huddled over his handlebars breathing heavily as I knew it was tough for him as well as me.
One last hill saw us total 2800ft of elevation with only 22 miles under our belts. Thankfully the final four miles were downhill to our BnB for the night – a treat as it is Danny’s last night with me.
We managed to repack and organise my belongings before heading out for dinner. Our BnB host said the local restaurant/bar/hotel was walkable…but it definitely wasn’t and we were glad we rode! The hotel was in an idyllic setting on the shore of a loch, surrounded by rising hills. All of the seafood is caught in the loch and we saw the fisherman delivering it as we had a drink overlooking the water whilst looking out for seals.
We couldn’t pass on the opportunity to sample the seafood and had the sharing platter. Everything was so fresh and delicious – from the scallops to the langoustine – and we devoured it all. It will be more remote the further I head north and I will have to rely on my own food sources more often. This will mean more meals of instant rice rather than freshly caught crab so I thought I’d better make the most of it whilst I can.