I decided on (yet another!) whim to cycle from Fort William to Inverness, I’d been looking at doing a Scottish ‘Coast 2 Coast’ but there seems no definitive, I’d looked at options, Oban to Broughty Ferry, Bowling to Carron Sea Lock (at the Helix park, Falkirk) which I have done, the longest mainland traverse Ardnamurchan to Girdleness Lighthouse in Aberdeen (popular years ago, I’m informed). Fort William to Inverness was even mentioned..
Mrs M is getting used to this ‘Let’s go tomorrow’ thing, I used the Sustrans info page on this trip HERE .
I had used plotaroute to create a GPX track to load into my Elment.
The bike was ready to go, a quick run through my checklist to take and everything was ready to pack into our wee Chevy.
The weather forecast wasn’t the kindest but I thought, just grin and bear it.
Bookings made and off very early on the Sunday morning, a wet, windy journey up through Lomondside, Crianlarich, Tyndrum (a short stop for scran), Glencoe and we arrived at Fort William at lunchtime. Glencoe with clag covering the tops was its usual stunning self and alive with tourists at the Meeting of the Three Waters.
A quick change (no telephone box needed) and soon Polly was ready for us to head NE, I had arranged to meet Katie at some point in Fort Augustus, I had mulled over doing the trip in one session but I later found out, two days was the better idea.
The rain started (again) as I set off following Route 78 signage towards the start of the Caledonian Canal but spotted the ruins of Inverlochy Castle and decided on a brief visit.
The local high hill, Ben Nevis was under clag today.
Ah, I then had to deviate back on local roads to find my way to the canal, I cycled up beside Neptune’s Staircase before heading at a steady pace in the now pouring rain, I met a few bedraggled walkers heading the same way. There was plenty of boat traffic and I met and chatted with a fellow heading to Inverness by waterboard. A few miles later at Gairlochy, I bid farewell to the canal and headed off on a minor back
road running above Loch Lochy, which I could glimpse occasionally before joining a long testing forest section through Clunes Forest, the rain was incessant as I pedalled up and down the roller coaster forest track, Surprised at how good a track with no need to get off on rougher sections, my hybrid bike coping no problem. I left the forest to get back on to another back road.
I passed through Laggan Locks then along to North Laggan where I crossed the busy A82 on to a side road which led me to the Invergarry path, passing through the old Invergarry Railway Station , this part is on the old track bed then it was off towards near Abercalder where I crossed the road and ran along the Canal bank to Fort Augustus. I arrived drookit (soaking) and my clothing caked with white sandy mud, poor Polly too.
That was enough for the day, I had thought of a quick drive over the hill heading out of Fort Augustus but no, I’d quickly find out the next day…
18 hours later in Fort Augustus, again busy with tourists, I got Polly ready and set off through the back streets joining the B862, built on General Wade’s Military road. I soon found out about the Glendoe climb, as I left the village I spotted two white vans diagonally heading up the hillside and thought, oh boy. I knew it was a constant ascent over 8 kilometres with two short level breaks, with over 1,250 ft of ascent.
The first section (2 km) was relentless but with the knowledge of no gradient of over 12% but a steady haul of 10% on the first 1500 metres, slow but hard going. I kinda blew at the top of this section and had a quick break, I managed the rest of the ascent with two more short stops, one of which was on a level section to take photos of Loch Tarff, I did though walk around 200 metres. 8 kms later, I arrived at the summit, leg-weary but with the view of a long downhill section, the break was welcome as I fuelled up before setting off. Chocolate peanut bars, my carb choice. The 12 piece breakfast I’d eaten earlier hadn’t been the best idea.
I spoke with another couple of cyclists at the summit, their bikes on top of their car and they warned of another steep section at Foyers but after Glendoe? easy.
I had set off on what was a dry day but very windy with crosswinds in open sections. I stopped at Whitebridge for a scran break but it wasn’t long before the blue 78 signs sent me along the B852 to Foyers, the forest road was up and down like a yo-yo but I soon ascended up through Foyers then dropped down to ride along Loch Ness, and yes, no Nessie. This was still Wade’s Military road and I pedalled along the tree-lined road before stopping in Dores where I took a side road up to have a look at the local church, time for a quick seat and fuelling session.
Not long after Dores, the blue 78 signs took me off the main road and on a path with led me to a country road where I joined the B820 at Scaniport, a shared path then it was off to the right again and I’d arrived on the outskirts of Inverness, again NCN signage is excellent and a couple of miles later, after passing through the outskirts of Inverness I arrived at the bottom of a short hill, and sighed but I looked up and saw the castle at the top. I’d arrived at my destination.
Time for a quick look around..
I mentioned earlier that this was as a possible C2C, did I go find the sea? nope, but I’d cycled along the River Ness so I counted that…
I then had to find my way back to where we were staying, 20 mins later with no problems, I arrived back.
Inverness has excellent bike infrastructure..bike lanes and shared pavements.
Think I will return…..
Climbing out of Fort Augustus, I could see new pathways at various points along the route, turned out as the South Loch Ness Trail info HERE
Not many photos, I’m afraid, the weather especially on the first day was atrocious, I did take a few during the odd dry spell. The following day, I didn’t really want to stop on Glendoe plus a large section of the lower run done through wooded sections.
I did this as an alternative to the Great Glen Way, the only difference ?, I took NCN Route 78 on the second day.
Where next? watch this space.
Once again, click on each image to embiggen.