island girl wrote:The A9 coming south from JOG was fairly busy but had a small hard shoulder for most of the way. At no time did we feel uncomfortable due to the traffic.
I did about 200 yards of the A9 and felt incredibly uncomfortable. Everyone has a different tolerance to traffic, and it's not something I find fun at all. Ended up doing a 20 mile detour to avoid just a couple of miles of it.
The A9 can be missed completely by coming back inland (I think GCN may have done this?) where the roads are lovely. West and North coast were fine in my experience and the vast majority of tourists very courteous. It's the locals that get impatient.
There are actually very few roads in the far North, so you can't go wrong as long as you avoid the East coast.
I know some miss out JoG but I really quite like the place. There is a sense of being taken back in time there. There are no roads back inland without retracing your steps. However, there is a gravel road via Altnabreac if your bike is up to it. I did it gingerly on 28mm tyres.