During a layover between trains in Inverness we got to explore the city briefly. As we rode around town Lisa’s bike started having strange issues with the chain skipping and getting jammed in the chain rings. A closer look revealed that several of the chain ring bolts were somehow missing — apparently fallen out somewhere along the way. Luckily we found a bike mechanic working out of a garage for the Happy Tours bike rental shop who dropped what he was doing and spent an hour finding bolts and fixing the chain rings for her — for only Â£10.
We spent a week camped behind the Ledgowan lodge hotel in the tiny village of Achnasheen in the Scottish highlands, exploring the area by bike and on foot. We had access to the cooking facilities in the bunkhouse for hikers and hill-walkers and the occasional cream tea in the lodge’s sumptuous study provided by the friendly owners.
We happened to arrive in the coastal town of Ullapool in time to take in the Loopallu music festival — the last festival of the year. We also arrived in time to catch some intense autumn wind blowing in off the North Atlantic. The weather station housed a few feet from my tent recorded wind speeds up to 58 mph over night a couple nights. This necessitated a rather urgent relocation of the tent one night at 3 in the morning, with the generous assistance of a couple parked nearby in a camper van. George, the extraordinarily friendly campsite manager, assured us that the wind was not that bad yet and that it wasn’t a gale until 65 or 70 mph.
We had thought of catching a ferry from Ullapool out to the islands of the Outer Hebrides, but with the change of weather and finding out that many of the campgrounds were closing up for the year, we reconsidered. Finally we decided it was time to head back south. We took a couple days to bike to Inverness then caught an overnight train to London.
The highlands were stunningly beautiful. Remote, and sometimes desolate. Definitely a place to return to.
But for now this will be the last post for the official long 2014 bike trip. Until the next trip, thanks for riding along…