Day 65 – Helmsdale to Inverness

Thursday 29th April

How lucky were we, the sun was forecast to shine on us all day! It was still very cold though so thermals were donned for the first few hours. I was slightly anxious about cycling, as I haven’t been managing the long distances with the hills recently but today was relatively flat and I need to be at the bike shop in Inverness on Monday morning.

We left at 7:30 out onto the A9 again, but today it was different it hugged the coast closely and the sun brought out the turquoise of the sea.

It was very quiet for the first hour and got busier as we nearerd our turn off the main road to cycle alongside Loch Fleet and round to Dornoch. To our surprise there was a group of seals on a sandbank sunbathing. Although they look quite far away in the photo they were close enough to sit and watch for a while.

We continued through Dornoch and back on the A road to cycle across the Dornoch Firth Bridge. As we entered Tain we bought some lunch and joined national cycle route 1 for the remainder of the day. Although the A9 is much closer to the coast, it’s not very pleasant just cycling on an A road all day and we were struggling to chat and hear each other. This route was beautiful and mostly through forest and farmland where we occasionally got glimpses of the coast in the distance.

There were a few steady climbs but nothing I needed to manually change to lower gears for, although my chain fell off on a large bump at one point!

We stopped to take in the view of the A road crossing the Cromarty bridge as we continued on our less busy route. It wasn’t long before the cycle path joined a main road but we happily cycled along it, I was warned to stay on the path as we got closer to Inverness to cross the final bridge as there were four lanes of very fast traffic. It was lucky we were warned as quite often if you don’t get onto these cycle paths at the right time you have missed your opportunity.

We found a pub by the river in Inverness to decide where to stay for the evening. Despite the sunny weather it was due to dip below freezing so camping was not an appealing option but for some reason every other accommodation option seemed full or very expensive. It became clear that this is because there are a load of cyclists here doing the Etape Loch Ness – a closed road event.

Luckily I thought of Warm Showers and we found an emergency host – David – who lived nearby. Before cycling to his house we had dinner in Pizza Express where we met those who had come 1st and 3rd in the closed road sportive! We enjoyed our pizzas, had a quick drink and retired to David’s for a well earned rest.

Tomorrow my focus will be on getting my trike fixed, doing a bit of shopping and arranging my schedule for the next week. If you or anyone you know are due to host me on the East Coast of Scotland please remind me or let me know.

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