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Monday 10th September 2007: “High speed highlands”

If day two had been one of the worst cycle rides I had ever undertaken then it seemed fitting that day three should be declared the best. That day I cycled just under 100 miles through stunning scenery and weather across the central Highlands finishing ahead of schedule in a beautiful sunset.

I set off at 9:30am and early on I could feel a distinctive change in the wind direction. Today it was a gentle north westerly breeze rather than a south westerly gale. Although I found myself fighting the wind for a short stretch outside Alness, for most of the day the wind was behind me.

I decided that morning to abandon plans to cycle through the Great Glen, as rain had been forecast in the west, so instead I took the A9 straight south through Strathspey and the Tay Valley. This strategy proved to be a good call as I found myself cruising close to 30mph for long stretches on the A9 in bright sunshine.

There were a couple of steep climbs on the Black Isle and outside Inverness but once I had reached Slochd Summit near the Tomatin Whiskey Distillery (which I visited briefly), it was all downhill. For part of the route I took the official cycle route, which is slightly longer but sends cyclists along deserted roads through stunning forests and glens. Having spent most of the morning on dual carriageway the stillness and serenity of these roads were particularly refreshing and at one point I cycled for over half an hour without seeing a single motor vehicle. The final push from Aviemore to Newtonmore was a little slower simply because I kept stopping every minute to capture photographs of the stunning sunset in Monarch of the Glen country.

The hostel in Newtonmore was very comfortable and offered a fitting end to an excellent day’s cycling. Before leaving the Highlands I tried a wee dram of the local Whiskey (Dalwinnie, which incidentally is stocked in the Union Bar) and that may explain why I slept well that evening!

Ride Statistics

Started: 09:30 hours
Finished: 20:00 hours
Distance: 97.78 miles
Cycling time: 7 hours 29 minutes
Top speed: 30.5 mph
Average speed: 13.0 mph
Odometer: 173.9 miles


The Black Isle
Slochd Summit
Highland Cotteges
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Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Back to the map

Copyright © John Collins