August 2012, and it was time for the most adventurous bike trip I’ve done so far. A trip up to Lochinver.
It was a 4 day trip – a day’s riding at each end, and two days in the middle for some fishing.
There were 3 of us heading all the way up to Lochinver – my mate Bruce and his dad, Bruce (senior!). Big Colin rode with us as far as Aviemore, but work commitments meant he couldn’t come on the rest of the trip.
The day started quite nice weather wise, but as the road climbed higher on the way to Aviemore the temperature started dropping, and dropping, and the wind was getting up…. Despite it being August, I was very glad of the heated grips on my bike! The wind was to become a major feature of the remainder of the trip north..
We couldn’t really avoid the A9, but it’s not much fun on the bike – pretty boring, and so heavily policed it’d be rather mad to be doing the kind of silly speeds that would make it fun!
Comfort stop, Aviemore
After heading to a chippy I’ve used before, and loved, in Aviemore, which turned out to be shut (Grrr) we stopped for lunch in the centre of Aviemore and grabbed some sustaining hot food (Yay, we found a chippy that was open!) and then set to discussing our route northwards and Big Colin’s best route home.
Having said cheerio to Colin, the three of us headed north, and although the wind was howling away by now, and the warning signs told us the Kessock Bridge was closed to high sided vehicles. We decided we’d chance it – the bridge is very exposed, but actually the wind, while strong, wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. The next bridge, the Cromarty Bridge, is lower, and actually was worse to cross, being buffeted like mad.
Near Alness we took the B9176 – a lovely road – and found ourselves at the Dornoch Firth where we just had to stop at the view point.
By this time the wind was so strong I was actually quite worried that my bike might be blown over!
We took the A837 and stopped at the Oykel Bridge Inn, parking the bikes by the tree here, and the wind was rocking the bikes so much we didn’t dare to leave them there for even one minute!
From there we went passed Loch Assynt and on to Lochinver. The wind was braking off leaves, twigs and branches from the trees, often covering the braking area before a corner with a slippery lair of twigs and leaves – interesting!
We were staying in the Lochinver Mission – a bunk house with a restaurant. We parked the bikes and got in out of the weather.
After a nice meal at the mission and a few beers in the Caberfeidh Bar at the other end of the village we made our way back to the Mission and the comfy beds for a great night’s sleep.
The next two days were all about fishing. Wednesday the weather was prefect – sunny, just enough wind to keep the midges away, and the scenery is stunning!
Loch Druim and Suilven
Bruce fishing happily away
Thursday really wasn’t the best weather wise – it blew a gale and pissed down, and I mean PISSED down! We tried to fish the School Loch, as it’s usually well sheltered, but the boat was drifting about as fast as we could pull in the fly lines, and the kids in the Primary School that looks out over the loch were probably being told by their teachers to say well away from nutters like those out there getting soaked to the skin…
As I hadn’t been fly fishing for a few years (ok, maybe 15), I hadn’t realised how out dated and, frankly, crap, my fly rod was. Eventually we did find a use for it – when the oven wouldn’t stay shut and was loosing too much heat!
Friday brought much better weather, and soon as we’d enjoyed a hearty cooked breakfast at the Mission it was time to say goodbye to Lochinver.
View from the old fisherman’s mission, looking across Lochinver
We fuelled the bikes at the Lochinver petrol station (nip into the Spar across the road to get someone to come out and switch the pumps on) – that was THE most expensive tank of fuel ever…
The roads up there, before you get as far south as Fort William, are simply amazing – possibly the best roads in the UK for bikes! Lovely, twisty roads, amazing scenery, and very light traffic – oh, the fun you can have up there!!!
The ride back down South went very well – we had a few stops, and met back up with Big Colin, plus Dave, at the Green Welly Stop in Tyndrum, grabbed some food, and then headed off back down the road.
A fabulous trip – can’t wait to head up there again!!!