Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Tour d'ecosse - stage 4, Applecross to Gairloch

A nice long lie-in this morning, followed by a bacon and egg breakfast courtesy of Moira and Willie, with a little help from Lotte the mad spaniel pup!

Though overcast it's very calm and perfect for the drive over the famous Bealach Na Ba.

After refueling at the "community filling station" I head off up the climb to the pass. This section on the way out, though steep is not too twisty and I reach the summit in a short while, stopping at the viewpoint for the necesary photos.

The descent down the other side is spectacular. I had been told it was steep and with tight hairpin bends, bit I was still taken by surprise. It starts twisting immediately, and though the hairpins are concentrated at the top it takes a while to balance the bike slowly through the corners. I felt like I was on a set for a new James Bond movie!

From the bottom I turned north once again along the Wester Ross coastal trail, a fast road all the way to Torridon. The views across to Ben Alligan and Liathach were very dramatic, rising from sea level vertical and steep into the sky, the rock faces black in the light from the overcast sky. I stop for cappuccino and scones at the Torridon Inn where I have been many times before with my best friend Pauline.

During my coffee and scone break I uploaded a selection of 20 photographs from the journey so far. If you'd like to see them they are at:

Riding through Torridon at around 3pm I started to become aware that it was getting darker . . . and darker . . . and darker! Yep, you guessed it, how could a day be complete without a soaking?! I had hoped to get a good view of the impressive mountain of Slioch after Torridon, and I'm sure it was there somewhere in the black cloud! Loch Maree was to my right, it's surface boiling with the monsoon downpour.
The road wasn't shedding the water very well and if you've never aquaplaned on a motorcycle before then you've never truly experienced very full underwear! Calvin Kleins as well!

Two miles out from Gairloch it started to clear and by the time I reached its harbour the sun was shining once again. It was a short 3 miles along to Carn Dearg Gairloch SYHA where I pulled in, rather damp, at 4 o'clock. From it's vantage point there were great atmospheric views across to Torridon and Slioch, though I didn't stand and admire the view for too long as it was dinner time for the midge population!

Fed and watered at the hostel I headed back into the village and the Sheiling pub to post this blog.

Tomorrow is to be another mixed bag of weather. I must admit to getting a bit soft these days but I would welcome one rainless day. Someone offered that my mental attitude must be my age, which is the first time something has been connected to my age since my balls dropped!

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