I got interested in the bike trip across Scotland through Outside Magazine when an article mentioned the bike trip as a 2010 Trip of the Year. So a couple years later I was able to book the trip and the adventure begins.
The day dawned crisp and bright, as the sun was actually shining, which is rare for Scotland. I met with the tour company, Wilderness Scotland, and then caravanned north to Aberdeen. We got situated with bikes and food and then hunted our way through town to hook up with the River Dee Trail. Good riding and nice weather throughout the day, as we follow an old railroad spur along River Dee. With in a couple hours of riding, we left the city and marveled at the beauty of the hills and open country. A long day in the saddle of a mountain bike was greeted by a quaint B&B Tigh na Geald in Aboyne. A good meal.
Day two: Heavy clouds have turned the previous great weather into a different set of emotions. The cold morning and misty condition, makes for a bleak start to the day, as I wonder if I’ll get to wear shorts to ride in again? The mist and cold makes for trying riding conditions, though we access the Cairngorms National Park and more open country. We ride through cold, gusty winds upward of 40 knots, as snow and hail falls. Eventually we get to the comforts of Moorfield House Hotel and were treated very well by the great owner.
Day three: more wind and heavy rain is in the forecast for the ride as we start out with solemn heads in anticipation of more inclement weather. We passed the large, exquisite Mar Lodge, and ride into the nastiest bike ride conditions, as we gain access into peat. As the rain soaks the Highlands and water saturates the peat, it becomes hellish to try to pedal and ride. And then walking and pushing a bike is not any better, as the bog sucks one’s feet in to the shins. Eventually we get through the nastiness and end up in Newtonmore at the Craigerne House Hotel, owned by Dougie and Joanna Jeffries. They go out of their way to make our stay absolutely fabulous. We ate a great meal at the Letterbox Restaurant.
Day four: the weather calls for more rain and inclement weather, as we start the ride with temperatures in the low 30’s. We ride until lunch with patches of sun poking through spats of rain throughout the morning, and stop for lunch in one of the ‘Bothies’ built about the Highlands for shelter from the weather, and it snows while we have lunch. After lunch we manage to ride into the hellish peat again and spend a couple hours traversing the lameness. Eventually we pass a WWII Memorial in Inverness-shire and reach accommodations at The Old Pines Hotel that are very nice.
Day five: more of the same weather, as Scotland is definitely someplace you don’t go for good weather. So we continue our ride from east to west coast amid rain and cold following the Caledonia Canal to Fort William where we catch a small ferry across Loch Linnhe. Not many pictures were snapped on account of the dull, misty weather. We finish the day at the Ben View Hotel, in Stontian, with views of Ben Nevis, which we could not see through the clouds and rain.
Day six: more rain and cold greets us, as we pedal into the weather and what will be the last day of the cross country trek. We ride along Loch Sunart through Salen and Acharacle, where we encounter midges at lunch. We were ‘dining’ under the canopy strung between the caravan and bike trailer to keep the lunch food dry, as we were already soaked through, so the midges were quite annoying to say the least. We reach our destination in the rain at Ardnamurchan and view the lighthouse and celebrate the crossing of Scotland, and I think back upon the last two days and wonder what we saw, as the rain kept one’s view to the road and trail in front of the tire.
Check out my excursion down to the southern coast of Ireland…