A9 Dornoch to Wick

Specific board for this popular undertaking.
shobo
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A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby shobo » 4 Sep 2019, 6:27pm

This seems an unpopular route - all routes that I've seen go inland then east along the top road (A836).
Has anyone experience of this stretch of the A9 ? Perhaps its dull. Perhaps its windy, but then the A836 can be ferocious.
I'm thinking of taking it, as there are more bnb options.
Tx.

rareposter
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby rareposter » 4 Sep 2019, 7:09pm

Cos it's an absolutely horrific road. Takes all the heavy traffic up to the north east, it's narrow, often not the best surface, it's quite exposed and traffic often travels quite fast along it.

Streetview of random section

It's not bad as a driving road, I actually quite like coming back down there from JOG in a car / van but there's no way I'd ever ride it.

Jamesh
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby Jamesh » 4 Sep 2019, 8:06pm

As I stayed at the shandwick Inn I got an early start and found it fine.

Rush hour on the A9 out if Inverness the night before wasn't much fun but needs must.

Cheers James

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robgul
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby robgul » 4 Sep 2019, 9:01pm

I've ridden it both ways, both times in June (not the same year!!) - no big deal at all.

Rob

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Paulatic
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby Paulatic » 4 Sep 2019, 9:08pm

This route always attract mixed opinions. My memories of it are having to grit my teeth getting across the Dornoch Firth it’s straight, fast, noisy, and not too wide. After that short section I found it ok and far better than some of the A roads we (wimps) had done earlier.
In fact I really enjoyed it especially from before Golspie onwards. Good road surface, good views. Helmsdale and Berriedale are IMHO not to be missed.
I would do it again but not before I’ve done the other routes.
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rualexander
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby rualexander » 4 Sep 2019, 11:28pm

rareposter wrote:Cos it's an absolutely horrific road. Takes all the heavy traffic up to the north east, it's narrow, often not the best surface, it's quite exposed and traffic often travels quite fast along it.
.


I disagree, it's not bad, not ideal certainly but ok, some good views out to sea .

You can cut off just beyond Lybster on the Camster Cairns road up to Watten then minor roads all the way to JOG.

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Mick F
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby Mick F » 5 Sep 2019, 8:37am

robgul wrote:I've ridden it both ways, both times in June (not the same year!!) - no big deal at all.
I've done that route four times over the years.
Absolutely fine, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
Mick F. Cornwall

hughwill69
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby hughwill69 » 7 Sep 2019, 10:00am

Five of us have just done this route (last week of this August)- the other 4 were joining me from Queensferry to JoG as the last part of a LeJog that I have done in stages.
(for the backstory see https://hughwill69.wordpress.com/ )

As always the reality is somewhere between Mick F's 'no problems at all' and the 'it's horrible and a nightmare and the other routes are so picturesque etc.

You mention Dornoch- I presume you mean the Dornoch Bridge. From what we experienced the A9 up to this point is pretty horrible- we had used the entirely rideable (though watch out at times for potholes) cycle route from Perth, most of which is reasonable road or tarmac trails. By the way, while we passed they were resurfacing the bike path drop down from the Drumochter Pass- the surface is like a billiard table and with a following wind we averaged nearly 30mph for over a mile. Stunning!

From Dornoch Bridge (upon which we were serially close-passed) we turned off to go through Dornoch itself. Nice route adding a couple of miles but reducing the amount of ascent. Once rejoining the A9 at The Mound we used the main (and only) road all the way up to John O'Groats. In traffic terms it was O.K. Most traffic (particularly big trucks) gave us plenty of room and didn't try to overtake on blind corners of summits. But you will always get some who are ignorant, don't care or resentful on any road. This part of the A9 is not the worst and sadly I think any Lejogger has to be prepared for bad behaviour from vehicles on any roads chosen.

The road through Golspe, Brora and up to Helmsdale was uneventful. My companions in their 30s and 40s found the hill beyond Helmsdale pretty monstrous (the rain didn't help) and how I managed it I don't know. It was the hardest hill of the whole LEJoG in my experience. After this came the Berridale Braes. The steepness of this monster is well known. We went through it in driving rain with full braking on the downward slope through the surface water. As many know there are road works on the other side. The state of these were not very cycle friendly. While we could ride up on the inside of the cones for some distance we had in the end to join the single narrow lane. We never knew when the southbound traffic being held up by the lights would be released into the single narrow lane we were crawling up- it was somewhat scary since at the end we were going round a blind corner..........at least it distracted from the fact that the hill is a beast for cyclists in normal times!

The last part through Lybster, Thrumster, and Wick was fine. Not a huge amount of traffic and generally respectful apart, confusingly, from a large number of Dutch (yes, Dutch) Motorhomes which attempted to nudge us into the ditch.

Overall, I would say that unless you are very apprehensive about any traffic it's ok.

rualexander
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby rualexander » 7 Sep 2019, 3:59pm

hughwill69 wrote:....... Once rejoining the A9 at The Mound we used the main (and only) road all the way up to John O'Groats......


It's not the only road though is it!?

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ferrit worrier
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Re: A9 Dornoch to Wick

Postby ferrit worrier » 7 Sep 2019, 5:31pm

Mick F wrote:
robgul wrote:I've ridden it both ways, both times in June (not the same year!!) - no big deal at all.
I've done that route four times over the years.
Absolutely fine, and wouldn't hesitate to do it again.


No problem I've done it three times on a bike and once in a car up to JoG .
Percussive maintainance, if it don't fit, hit it with the hammer.