Thursday, 12 June 2008

Day 11: Fort William to Beauly (66 miles)

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Yesterday afternoon, Ian noticed that he had two broken spokes on the rear wheel of his Dahon folding bike (which has 20" wheels). However the wheel was not unduly buckled and could ride on to Fort William without difficulty.

This morning Ian visited "Off-Beat Bikes" in Fort William where they made a pair of replacement spokes by cutting down a full-length spoke and re-threading it. Ian then fitted the new spokes in the street outside. Unfortunately a protruding spoke end caused an immediate puncture. After applying tape over the spoke end he re-fitted the now-patched tube and by about 1045 we were at last able to start today's ride.

We were all relaxed about the delay; we have plenty of time to get to JOG by Sunday. The rest of us made good use of the time buying food for the day and booking our hotel for tonight.

We set out north-east from Fort William along the A82, which we would follow along the Great Glen for about 30 miles. We were climbing almost immediately, with clear view of Ben Nevis to our right. We used a short length of smooth, wide, cycle track for the first two miles to Torlundy but it was too good to last and soon dumped us back on the A82.

We then dropped down to Spean Bridge where we started climbing again up to Stronaba. As views of the Great Glen opened up before us we passed the Commando Memorial on our left. Then we descended to Lake Lochy and the most beautifully-situated burger van in Scotland, where we stopped for coffee.

Today was bright with sunny intervals. There was still a northerly headwind but it was relatively light and not much of a problem.

Although this section of the A82 is a main trunk road, traffic was quite light.

After a further hour or so we arrived at Fort Augustus where we had lunch, sitting eating our sandwiches besides the locks of the Caledonian Canal.

After lunch we carried on along the north shore of Loch Ness. I had been expecting to be cycling along the water's edge, but in fact we were high above the lake and the road undulated up and down all the way, giving us a fast and enjoyable ride.

Eventually we reached Urquhart Castle and turned away from Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit, where we made a brief stop to eat a snack. At this point, about 4pm, it started to rain. It was only a short shower, but this was our second rain of the trip. Fortunately it stopped after about twenty minutes and the sun came out.

From Drumnadrochit we took the A833 north towards Beauly. This presented us with our toughest climb so far in Scotland, and perhaps the toughest of the entire trip. At the top we found ourselves in a quite different landscape of heather-covered moorland. At last we were in the north of Scotland. Before long we started descending, however, and the landscape became more pastoral again. After a few more miles we arrived in Beauly, where we checked into the Priory Hotel in the middle of the town. Geoff explained to the hotel management that we were on a charity ride and immediately achieved a £20 discount per room.

Vital statistics: Distance: 66 miles. Average speed: 12.9 mph. Total distance from Land's End: 827 miles.

Tomorrow: Day 12 Beauly to Lairg


  1. Amazed you seem to have escaped the very heavy rain we are experiencing down in the south. You are fortunate. Keep up the food sit-rep. A

  2. Well done everybody - all best for the rest - don't you wish you too were marking exam scripts...