Only about five miles after leaving Bonar Bridge, our over night stop, we were facing our most formidable climb yet – the infamous Struie Hill! After a steady incline away from the shores of Dornoch Firth, the road does a slight decent into a ‘clough’ before rising steeply to the summit, a total climb of over 800ft. Doesn’t sound much does it, but for two old men on a full breakfast it was quite enough! In fact the after-effects of it were to live with us for the rest of the day – my legs are still aching as I blog. On the plus side, we didn’t have to get off and push AND in the scrubby hillside, beyond the view point, a ‘reeling’ Grasshopper Warbler – a most surprising addition to the bird list! The decent down to Alness was tougher than it should have been due to a moderate and very cold south-easterly wind. Coffee and cake was taken at the Evanton Community Cafe, before we weaved our way through Dingwall and on to Muir of Ord our lunch stop – which turned out to be a roll and crisp from the mini-market, eaten in the town square. Birding interest on route included Red Kite (from the release site on the Black Isle presumably) and our first Chiffchaff. The afternoon session should have been a breeze – 30ks of gentle uphill and then a steep decent into the Great Glen and Drumnadrochit. As it turned, out the climb was a ‘lung-buster’ – long, relentless with a steep finish! The cumulative effect of Struie in the morning and this climb to finish, left us both feeling it! Our accommodation was in the superb Greenlea B&B, run by Carol and John. A hobble to the pub for supper, washed down with a couple of pints, courtesy of Lochness Brewery and a happy hour reminiscing about ‘bikes we have owned and loved”.
Day three should have been easier than it turned out to be. In bed now with liberal quantities of Ibuprofen gel strategically applied, hoping for a less demanding day tomorrow!
See todays stats below:
Bry doing final ‘flight checks’ before todays stage. The hotel was rather better inside than the outside decor would suggest!
The sign that puts fear in to the hearts of men (well cyclists really!)
And here comes Bry the ‘conquering hero’, approaching the summit.
This much deserved break came after the final climb of the day – a chance to recover and dry out our sweat drench kit!
It wasn’t all graft…there was some superb scenery along the way
Journeys end – our B&B for the night. Tea on arrival and a washing line for the laundry.
Total bird species for the trip – 70
Details of tomorrows route on the breakfast blog.