I’m a day late writing this, because I was tired by the time we got to Fort William and because we didn’t have anywhere set up for dinner, so some exploring was required. And Fort William, for all its many virtues and its proximity to the Highlands and all that stuff, is not well served for restaurants. But I did manage to find somewhere eventually, and it was fun to eat with Denise, Donald and Sonjia, who I hadn’t spoken much to before that. (I am writing this in a hurry, so grammar is going out of the window, I’m afraid.)
Anyway, we set off at the start of the day from Evanton’s Novar Arms Hotel at about 08:45, but not before Les recorded a message to his many fans and was photographed by Carl. It was not too cold, but we all wore rain jackets because the weather has been so changeable. You’ll see in photos later that it really warmed up as the day went on.
It was scheduled to be our longest day yet: 81 miles and over 4000 feet of climbing. We set off through Dingwell heading for the Great Glen at Drumnadrochit, a town noted for its enthusiastic embracing of the Nessie myth. The route at this point was (as cyclists say) lumpy. There was a long steep climb followed by a shorter very steep descent. The climb revealed how green fields are in Scotland. Quite a difference from the south of England. The descent was fantastic. I had climbed it four years ago from the other direction (stopping just once, I think), and I can’t believe I actually managed to do that. Going down was fun, and if there hadn’t been an over-cautious car in front of me I would have got to 40 mph easily.
Drumnadrochit, at about 27 miles, was where we stopped for coffee. I am beginning to like the rhythm we are setting up: a good chunk out of the ride before coffee, get well over half-way before the lunch stop, and then blast on to our destination. This was a good chance to catch up with everyone, and in my case to ask Rob to take my waterproof jacket and swap it for my packable rainproof Gore jacket. It was now pretty hot, and all I was wearing was a ‘base layer’ and a short-sleeved cycle shirt.
The route now followed that of the Etape Loch Ness, passing the remains of Urquhart castle and heading towards Fort Augustus. I took a few photographs along the way, and I’m showing them all here because if any reader happens to be looking at that view in real life and sees a pair of sunglasses—they’re mine. I put them down when taking a picture and forgot them. Bother!
We stopped at Fort Augustus for lunch. I phoned ahead to Fort Williams’s bike shop to ask when they closed, to see if I could buy a new pair of sunglasses, but they said they didn’t sell them. I was surprised, because expensive sunglasses are de rigueur among fashionable cyclists, but on reflection I suppose the sun shines but rarely in Scotland. I also made an appointment with my optician to get a new pair of regular glasses as well as shades—it seems to have been a long time since I have been to the optician.
I had a quick lunch and headed off along the Caledonian Canal before reaching Neptune’s staircase (the flight of sea locks that takes ships onto the canal) and then Fort William. As I cycled I passed a French (as it turned out) family who reminded me of a famous photograph. Does any reader recognise my feeble reproduction? (I did ask the family’s permission to take the picture.)
I want to discuss cycling equipment at some point, and the question of whether one should do LEJOG/JOGLE in 15 days (as I am doing) or 9 days (as Julian Hutchings did). But for now I’ll stop with my stats and go out for some food. I’ll write today’s blog after that.
First, here is the route
And we cycled 130.15 km with a moving time of six and a quarter hours, climbing 1,224 metres. Average power was 122 W, and I used 2.449 calories, according to Strava’s algorithm.