Inverness and North

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
captain offensive
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Inverness and North

Postby captain offensive » 17 Jul 2017, 4:09pm

Hi folks,

I've got a five day ride planned for a few weeks time. Thought I'd ask the good folk amongst you who might know the north of Scotland if this sounds reasonable or if there are any potential problems I should be aware of. My other half goes to Orkney to work on the Ness of Brodgar excavations each year which is when I take my time for a small tour. This year I thought I'd meet her there so I'm doing...

Train to Inverness
Day 1: Inverness to Lairg - pretty much following NCN1 via the Cromarty-Nigg ferry
Day 2: Lairg to Durness - planning on following the A838 - I'd normally avoid A roads but google street view makes it look like its probably OK
Day 3: Durness to Bettyhill
Day 4: Bettyhill to JoG (with diversions to Dunnet and Duncansby Heads)
Day 5: Ferry to Orkney, to the Ness of Brodgar (and possibly Skara Brae) and then back to Kirkwall
Ferry to Aberdeen and train from there

I'm hoping that on either day 2 (afternoon) or 3 (am) I'll do a diversion to Cape Wrath. If I get there on Day 2 or if its not possible to get there at all then day 3 might include a diversion inland on the small road from Hope to Altnaharra and then on to Bettyhill along the Naver valley.

Looking at maps and hill profiles it looks pretty steady going - some longish days but nothing too awful. I'm making sure the bike is well serviced and I've got any spares I might need as it will be the most remote that I've ever travelled. But if anyone is aware of any issues I should consider I'd appreciate your thoughts.

Cheers

CO

Norman H
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby Norman H » 17 Jul 2017, 5:28pm

I think I've commented on your plans before, I can't see any problems if you're happy with the daily mileage.

You might also consider the road along the south shore of the Beauly Firth to Muir of Ord and Dingwall as an alternative to the ferry. From Dingwall take the minor road to Evanton and Alness and then the wonderful B9176 (Struie Rd) to Bonar Bridge.

keithg
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby keithg » 17 Jul 2017, 5:37pm

This is a nice route, I did it last year or a variation.
My only worthwhile input is that much of it is on the North Coast 500 route (google it) and this makes some of the road a fair bit busier and some of the single track sections can be a little bonkers with camper vans and caravans who dont seem to get the passing place thing.
Also accomodation is always booked up well in advance on NC 500 so that will definitely be an issue unless camping.
Also midges will be an issue if you are camping!
BUT it is a lovely route.
There are plenty of wild camping possibilities esp if you head up to Farad Head north of Durness. Recommended, I can give more details if wished.
The Crask Inn A838 and then the lonely wee road by Strath More and L Hope is a good alternative way from Lairg to the north coast road. Shorter and a remote feel to it but you'd miss Durness and its beaches which can be glorious if the weather is right.

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Tigerbiten
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby Tigerbiten » 17 Jul 2017, 10:43pm

I did the small road from Hope to Altnahara 5 years ago on my bent trike-trailer rig.
Nice quiet road with one big climb but there was grass down the center on some of the early sections by the loch which makes it "interesting" on a trike at speed ... :lol:
I think I also met more horses and riders than cars on that road after the loch ........ :D

captain offensive
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby captain offensive » 18 Jul 2017, 10:29am

Hi all,

Thanks for the replies and info - sounds positive which is good. At least no one saying anything like ''don't get that road, its a complete wind tunnel!' :-)

Norman - yes I think you did and I think you might have put a spanner (of the best kind) into my plans then as well. You made the alternative sound good. I do like the idea of the Cromarty Ferry but the other route looks really nice as well. Decisions decisions.

Keith - I have got some B&Bs booked (I've not yet tried camping on the bike - quite enjoy not carrying too much and being able to get into a proper bed at night - though will give it a go at some point! All bookings with booking.com so can be cancelled for another couple of weeks if i do change plans. I was aware that once I hit the end of the drag across country from Lairg I'd be joining the north coast 500 and had seen other threads about the pros and cons of that route. I guess from Lairg I could carry on past Crask Inn and then take the small road to Hope (!) to get to Durness. Another possible decision to make on the day.

Tiger - that's great to hear. I always quite like going down roads with grass - a good sure you are not likely to see too many high speed idiots! - so long as its not completely pot holed.

Thanks again all - Ride is still another 3 1/2 weeks away but I'm getting excited now :-)

Norman H
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby Norman H » 18 Jul 2017, 11:52am

I'm quite envious. After posting last time about the route through Strath More and the Bealach nam Meirleach it fired my enthusiasm and I planned a route from Inverness to Cape Wrath using them both.

We were to do it in early June but the sparsity of accommodation and my companions reluctance to camp would have meant some longish days which was a concern to some in our party. It's a very remote area and I'm not sure it's sensible to do it on my own but if I can persuade someone else to camp I will do it next year.

captain offensive
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby captain offensive » 18 Jul 2017, 2:02pm

Thanks Norman - I'm itching to get going now! Hope you get something planned in soon. I am a little concerned about the remoteness. I'm not imagining I'll be coming across many LBSs along the way so will be carrying even more spares than usual just in case. The bike is in for a major service and overhaul this week which should a) get everything nicely fixed and ready whilst b) giving me time to check any new parts are working as expected.

I'm then hoping that if I do have any problems although remote people will hopefully be friendly and helpful in case of crisis! :-)

Norman H
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby Norman H » 18 Jul 2017, 7:25pm

A wise precaution if you're travelling alone is to send word ahead to your overnight accommodation and give them an ETA. At least they can raise the alarm if you don't arrive. Not much use if you're wild camping though. There's no guarantee of a mobile phone signal in the highlands.

gloomyandy
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby gloomyandy » 18 Jul 2017, 8:22pm

Don't want to hijack the thread but Norman if you have a map of your proposed route I'd be interested to see it!

Norman H
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby Norman H » 18 Jul 2017, 9:23pm

gloomyandy wrote:Don't want to hijack the thread but Norman if you have a map of your proposed route I'd be interested to see it!


Briefly the plan was to use the estate road through Strath Vaich and Gleann Mór to Invershin and then the A838 along the shore of Loch Shin to pick up the Bealach nam Meirleach at the head of Loch Merkland. There's bunkhouse accommodation at the Aultguish Inn close to the start of the Strath Vaich route and another hostel at Invershin but beyond Invershin there isn't much that's affordable between Lairg and either Durness or Tongue. We were hoping to spend the night at Cape Wrath in the Bothy at Kervaig and return via the Crask Inn.

You shouldn't have any problem tracing the route on a map but if you need any further information send me a PM.

gloomyandy
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby gloomyandy » 19 Jul 2017, 2:43am

Thanks! Interesting looking route. Look forward to hearing how you get on!

bikepacker
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby bikepacker » 19 Jul 2017, 10:43am

Norman H wrote:A wise precaution if you're travelling alone is to send word ahead to your overnight accommodation and give them an ETA. At least they can raise the alarm if you don't arrive. Not much use if you're wild camping though. There's no guarantee of a mobile phone signal in the highlands.


In all the years I have toured north of the Great Glen I have never felt I had the need to do this. I can understand if someone is going Munro bagging on a quiet mountain but not when cycling on roads where there will be some traffic however quiet the road.
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

bikepacker
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby bikepacker » 19 Jul 2017, 10:48am

captain offensive wrote:Day 1: Inverness to Lairg - pretty much following NCN1 via the Cromarty-Nigg ferry
CO


Be aware that at very low tides the ferry cannot operate I once had to wait 3 hours at Nigg because of low water on the slipway.

Also for accommodation look at Sleeperzzz at Rogart station near Lairg http://www.sleeperzzz.com It is run by a cycling couple and give discounts for those arriving by bike.
There is your way. There is my way. But there is no "the way".

captain offensive
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby captain offensive » 19 Jul 2017, 11:03am

Hi Norman - such a simple but effective tip. Thanks for the advice I'll certainly be doing that.

Your planned route looks good. Just googles Strathvaich - looks pretty stunning. Certainly other than wild camping there does look to be little between Lairg and Durness - hence why I'm going to do that in a day! :-)

I'm still in two minds about the trip from Inverness to Lairg. I'm still leaning towards my original plan as I like the idea of seeing the Black Isle and having a day that will be quite different to the Lairg to Durness leg; however your suggested route between Evanton and Bonar Bridge looks gorgeous!

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stephenjubb
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Re: Inverness and North

Postby stephenjubb » 19 Jul 2017, 11:10am

bikepacker wrote:
Norman H wrote:A wise precaution if you're travelling alone is to send word ahead to your overnight accommodation and give them an ETA. At least they can raise the alarm if you don't arrive. Not much use if you're wild camping though. There's no guarantee of a mobile phone signal in the highlands.


In all the years I have toured north of the Great Glen I have never felt I had the need to do this. I can understand if someone is going Munro bagging on a quiet mountain but not when cycling on roads where there will be some traffic however quiet the road.


I suppose it is a safety thing, some of the roads I ride in Scotland have very deep valleys and if somehow I were to go over the side down a very steep hill no one might never know I was down there.

I have a personal locator beacon round my belt, so assuming I survive the fall I can activate it.

All personal preference but I feel better with it.