Season 4 in the van!
Caledonian Etape May 13th 2012
Arrived at Pitlochry on the Milton of Fonab site. Met Ron and Tricia and their daughter and family. Ron and his son-in-law doing the etape again also. Forecast a little short of terrible! Traffic advisory boards telling us heavy rain forecast for Sunday! What's the point of that- "Heavy rain on Sunday. Turn back. Don't come to Scotland. We're dooooooomed!"
Sure enough rain came in at about Tummel Bridge, but that wasn't the problem. It was the strong wind, in your face all the way down to Bridge of Gaur, sapping your strength and ruining your speed predictions. It was a relief to climb the road over Shiehallion, with the wind behind you, but the loop around Fortingall was horrendous, with speed dropping into single figures and no shelter! Much better for Ian and the fitter guys in groups giving each other some shelter but in the last thousand places, it's every man/woman for themselves!
Finally got some speed up in the last 20 miles but like pushing water uphill. Finally nearly home but the last few miles from Logierait are quite sapping, with some really stinky climbs. Anyway just managed to keep the sweeper car at bay, with some people finishing and complaining that they'd been timed out of the Fortingall loop! I thought "You didn't miss much" .
Ian finished in an amazing 4 hrs25mins, only 5mins slower than last year! I did it a little faster than the first time but can't say I enjoyed it much. I felt absolutely knackered at the end!
Kyle of Lochalsh
Kate completed her first half marathon in Leeds in a really good time of 1hr 54. Well done and keep on running.
After a night of heavy wind and rain, we left for points north and Kinlochewe. We'd watched the second half of the deciding match for the leaders of the premier league, just as Barton revealed his true colours and Tevez slunk off. The sun was shining down on Manchester. No sun here and really cold with rain falling as snow showers. We had great views of Ben Eighe snow-covered from the site at Kinlochewe, but sooooo cold. Had a brief walk up Benn Eighe, but turned back as the weather worsened, which for once was on my side as I was too knackered to go any further!
Stayed in the van, cos there is nothing happening in Kinlochewe, apart from a Soup Lunch on Friday at the local village hall. Woke up a few times during the night to rain banging on the van!!!!!
May 15. Kinlochewe to Applecross.
The weather lady says it's going to be better today and much better tomorrow and vile the day after. So off to the Applecross peninsular. We went here for the first time a couple of years ago.
Bealach Na Ba
I'd forgotten how beautiful the views are. The drive over to Shieldaig is awesome, with views of Torridon, Liatach, Beinn Alligin, and the sea loch of Torridon with its langoustine farms (probably destined for France!) and mussel beds. With the weather improving, so was or mood and we might not head for home just yet. Then views of the sea, the islands of Raasay and Skye, with the Cuillins in the far distance. The wonderful single track road (with frequent passing places), only opened in 1976, which weaves up and down between the coastal hamlets and single dwellings between Shieldaig and Applecross. A gorgeous cul-de-sac. Once there you have no option but to turn around and come back along the coast or over the awesome Bealach Na Ba (Pass of the Cattle). Awesome because it's very steep in places and single track again.
Once parked at the camp site, we cycled off to the very end of the road to Toscaig, and Ian tackled the high road up the Bealach Na Ba ( the slightly "easier ascent") and I takked the low road along the coast back towards the Sands, famous for being televised a few years ago, with Monty Hall and his dog spending some time here. Took a photo also, incidentally, of the birthplace of my hand-woven shawl, that I bought from a weaving shed at Cuaig, called Croft Traders and Weavers, where the couple reared the sheep, dyed the wool, spun it and wove it all themselves.
With heavy rain showers pouring intermittently in the distance over Skye, we felt very lucky to be in sunny Applecross, even if it is only 9 deg. Sat outside with a glass of wine until our fingers were numb, and then stuck the electric fan heater on and resigned to sitting in the cosy van instead ! At least we'd had some exercise today. There's a beautifully situated pub on the only "street" in Applecross, right on the front, overlooking the sea channel across to Skye, and that's where we're going for something to eat tonight. Maybe fish and chips!
At the pub, we got talking to a father and daughter who were on a cycling trip up the west coast from Fort William to Ullapool. It was good to share with them their adventure so far, over a pint of Cuillin ale. They were sleeping in a tent, which I didn't envy them. With the temperature dropping for the evening, the van was more comfortable!
The day started overcast, with the forecast worsening, with rain forecast all day tomorrow. We made the decision to head south to Pitlochry, as there seemed little point going over to Skye. What a shame!
We drove over Beallach Na Ba, and parked the van in a layby. Ian then cycled up the Pass again, from the south side. I set off at the same time, heading for Kyle of Lochalsh, but instead of driving over the bridge to Skye, after lunch, we set off south again. Ian succeeded in cycling up the Pass, in an amazing 45mins! The most ascent in the UK, at 2000ft.
The poor weather followed us to Milton of Fonab.
Monty Hall's Getaway
In the morning, 4.5deg outside, and only 9deg inside. All plans of cycling around the Loch were shelved, as it started raining early on, and continued all the way almost until we arrived home. Ah well, better luck next time! At least we had a couple of good days at Applecross, to remind us of how beautiful and unspoilt the area is.