…was back to the ‘usual’ distance, although very broken up so it didn’t seem that far. This was the last day of this leg and although the original plan was to end the first stage in Inverness there are not the accommodation options available around there so we continued on a bit. This leaves the option open to continue the next stage from Inverness or from the campsite, depending on the route for the next section etc.
The day started cold and wet. Our first morning waking up in a tent and although it was cold it wasn’t too bad. It had rained through the night but had stopped for now. We had talked about possibly going for a walk up the hill to see the local landmark, the Fyrish Monument, and had it been sunny and bright we might have followed through. Instead, we packed up and headed off early with a plan to get to Inverness for lunch all together and a bit of time to look around.
The first part was a bit of a slog, topping off the Cromarty Firth, again a bit higher up than the A9. Then as we dropped towards the Moray Firth the cycle route came parallel to the main road then suddenly cut through onto it. So suddenly, in fact, that just at the bottom of quite a quick incline I slammed on my brakes. Not quite realising what was happening Jonny let out a shout from behind me. I realised that he was about to crash into me from behind so I swerved right. He realised he was going to crash into me from behind so he swerved right, too! Realising that I was also swerving right he tried to re-swerve to the left but lost control and his handlebars twisted. Quick thinking, he managed to dive from the bike onto the grass verge so survived with only a few scratches to his knees and elbows. Of course, all this realising happened in a split second. Thankfully this was the only crash of the holiday and the only severe damage was Jonny’s bell.
We were soon navigating the convoluted cycle route, which refused to go along the A9 until the Kessock Bridge. The bridge proved to be an impressive arrival into Inverness. We had crossed it on the way up in the car, but this was much better. It was then just a short jaunt along the riverside and through the industrial estates to get into Inverness. We had arranged to meet the others from lunch and they had worked out where the cycle path came in so they were waiting.
The Bus/Train station seemed to be an appropriate place to start the next leg from, should we choose to, so we headed there and then stopped for lunch and a bit of time in Inverness (see seperate post.)
After lunch and the planned look around it was time for the final ride out to the campsite on the shores of Loch Ness, about halfway down the west coast. We had set off from John O’Groats with the boy in the trailer and the plan had been to find other opportunities, especially at the start of each day, to give him a ride with us. The weather, however, was never conducive to that so it hadn’t happened. Today, though, the day had brightened up and it looked to be a pretty flat ride so it seemed appropriate to let him finish with us. We hooked up the trailer and set off.
The off-road cycle route weaved across the river, then got caught up in a construction site but we eventually made it out of the city and onto the canal that hugged tightly to the River Ness all the way to the Loch. It was a delightful ride, probably made even more delightful for me to have my son with us, albeit asleep for much of it. Jonny said I cycled a bit faster than usual and seemed to find the few mild inclines less difficult!
As we reached the shores of Loch Ness the canal stopped and we had to join the main road. It was quite busy so less enjoyable but we got great views of the loch. This also meant that since it is quite a small road we inevitably caused queues of traffic behind us and had to keep pulling in at the laybys to let the cars and tour buses pass.
We hadn’t realised on this last stretch that my Mum had decided that another night camping was not for her. She had been looking for B&B options but I wasn’t answering my phone to discuss whether we wanted rooms also, so rooms were disappearing as the time went on! As we arrived, confirming that we were happy to camp, she managed to get one of the last rooms in Drumnadrochit and quickly disappeared off to get warm.
We still had the tent to pitch before finally getting a shower and cooking some food. The Loch Ness Bay Camping site was big and well kept but we pitched as close to the facilities as we could. It was getting dark and cold quite early so as soon as we had eaten we got ready for bed and settled in for the night. We had finished the first leg of our JOGLE!!