I’ll take the high road and you take the low road. Day 3: Dingwall to Fort William

The Garve Hotel. Interesting. Suffice to say we were the youngest guests by at least half a century! We declined the offer of dinner in the main dining room, which was a shame because when we passed the restaurant the other guests were being entreated to a rousing rendition of Delilah by the hotel singer. Everyone was joining in – if only we knew the words…

Ater stocking up with food for the next couple of days at Tesco in Dingwall, we wiled away the evening back at the hotel discussing the day ahead and watching a couple of favourite Laurel and Hardy movies. We know how to live!

After another good night’s sleep, we were up and about at 5.30am for an instant pot-porridge (we were too early for the hotel breakfast) and a cuppa before setting off to the start point back at Dingwall. Sticking to our 7am starts, Jer was cycling off into the distance for the long day ahead.

The route today would take us on a journey inland down through the Great Glen and alongside the magnificent lochs of Ness and Lochie and the Caledonian Canal to Fort William. The ride would start just outside of Dingwall at the junction of the A835 and A862. First heading towards Muir of Ord and Beauly, we would join the A831 near Drumnadrochit and then the A82 all the way down to Fort William. The predicted mileage is staggering today, a whopping 71 miles! This is further than Jer has ever cycled in one stint by some margin…which, incidentally, he did just yesterday! Well, that was the plan anyway…

The strong winds that made cycling so difficult yesterday had abated leaving a calm, sunny morning. The weather forecast predicted sunshine and showers for much of the day with a lightish south-westerly wind.

I went straight to the first scheduled stop at 20 miles, just short of Drumnadrochit. Jer’s consistent pace makes it fairly easy to predict his ETA and it was because of this I thought it strange that he was running late. I tidied the van, began the blog, watched deer run across the field in front of me, took some photos and waited. Fifteen minutes became 30, then 45 and still no sign of him. Finally, I got a call from to say that he realised that he had taken a wrong turn but only when he had reached C?? about 14 miles away from me.

I typed the village into TomTom and took off. About 10 miles down the road, I caught up with him pedalling away from C labouring up a rather steep incline. We quickly bundled the bike into the back of the van and headed towards the first stop…once again. We worked out that Jer had done an extra 6.5 miles – as if he needed the extra challenge today!

Fortunately, the detour was soon forgotten in quick time with the appearance of Loch Ness. Although the wind picked up as it swept across the loch, for the most part the weather stayed comfortably dry with only a few sunny showers. The scenery has everything, wide open views of the water with hills rising above to narrow tree-lined ‘avenues’ hugging the road.

Despite the extra miles, we kept to another 20 mile stop just beyond Invergarry and Jer certainly needed the break after 47 miles. He was only too aware that there was still another 24 to go. On his way after refuelling, Jer was soon dropping down to Loch Lochie and onto the final leg towards Fort William. We split the final stage in two equal sections to give Jer a further break before stopping near our hostel for the night, Glen Nevis. The hostel sits in the shadow of Ben Nevis and in a magnificent setting – a welcome sight for one weary cyclist.

 

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