Brrr brrr brrrr

Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness to Invershin, Sutherland via Ross and Cromarty.

We’re on the same latitude as Gothenburg, Sweden which explains why it is so cold! And passing through Ross and Cromarty has made it feel like we’re on the shipping forecast. The weather has made us feel the same way- blustery, driving rain at times. A challenging yet lovely day.

North of Drumnadrochit we came close to Inverness and things became more ‘civilised’ – bigger houses, large picture windows with views, rather than being tucked away out of the weather, fences and private no turning signs. We cycled with fairly heavy traffic for a while but soon everything calmed down. As we approach the east coast there are fewer tourists, fewer coaches, wilder countryside and huge open spaces.

In many ways it felt like Cornwall all over again.

We heard a cuckoo and saw lots of wrens and a greenfinch. I found a few small clumps of ? Mullein or ?   Verbascum nestling with the buttercups. Stitchwort, normally in full bloom in Shropshire around Nay’s birthday in early May is just blossoming here now. It is said there are six weeks delay in the seasons between Cornwall and Shropshire – and probably another six between Shropshire and here.

Another odd thing: spiders webs wrapped tightly around branches and leaves: 

We crossed miles of open moorland to come to the Dornoch Firth. The skies cleared and we could see for 30 miles. 

They say the fairies used to walk across the firth on cockle shells and they built a bridge of gold. The A9 crosses over it now on a bridge of steel and concrete. How prosaic!

And how do you know round here when the market is on? Nothing so simple as Wednesday in Oswestry, Thursday in Welshpool (that may be wrong) – no. It’s when the stone comes to town… 

Midges abound today. Let’s look at the picture again – from keft to right in the midge kit: clockwise from ibuprofen. Assuming you are protected, long socks, long sleeves long trousers etc etc. Don’t rely on garlic or alcohol – they don’t work. 

Ibuprofen reduces inflammation as do the antihistamine creams such as Anthisan (available over the counter). Avon skin so soft has a good reputation as a midge repellent. It would probably be better to have the cream rather than the oil. Smidge is an official midge deterrent but much more chemically based. Antihistamine tablets (i.e. Hay fever tabs, cheap in supermarkets, such as cetitizine) take down the swelling post- bite too. And DON’T SCRATCH!!  And the small black bag….?

Sometimes I feel we’re back in the 1960s. When did you last see an AA box? This was on the way to Bonar Bridge. 

I see it’s only 53 miles to Kinlochbervie in the extreme north west of Scotland. We had a great holiday there in 2011 – a place mum had always wanted to visit again. Good times!

And now we find ourselves in Invershin, in the most lovely Invershin Hotel, with a family with two small children, a lovely room with a view of the castle, great home made food, good music, an open fire – and a dog. Heaven… 

Mileage: 54.1 (cumulative 907.4, already more than those who do it, without luggage, in 10 days)

Ascents: 3151

Tantrums: 0 (k even pushed my bike up the hill at one stage)

Pints: 1.5

Mechanical issues:0

Ps: the black bag…. a face midge protector.

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