Monthly Archives: August 2014

Day 16: Fort Augustus to Inverness

Miles travelled: 37

Metres Climbed: 750

Cheers from passing drivers: too many to count… (Presumably because only crazy people try and cycle hills like this with all our gear! ;))

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On the advice of the charming Natalie (our extremely generous hostess at the Kettle House B&B in Fort Augustus) we opted for the South Side of Loch Ness. She said that we shouldn’t be put off by the “Wee hill” at the start as what goes up must come down. Clearly “wee” is not a word that can be easily translated… Her “wee hill” last 4 miles, and was without any respite every bit as steep as Dartmoor! It took us nearly an hour, buckets of sweat, and over 600 calories to climb… Let’s just say I regretted my pre-breakfast run almost immediately (i’d been told today was an easy day ;))

Although it was Mummy’s decision (with maybe a little subtle manipulation from Alice), I think she thought we were trying to finish her off!

On the plus side, the sun was shining and we had the best views of the trip so far! Glen Mor was majestic, the Scotland we had always dreamed of! When we FINALLY reached the final summit, we met a group of guys cycling the other way… (But these strapping young men were carrying nothing and had both a support truck and carbon bikes!!) they reassured Mummy that we had a nice downhill run back to the lake 🙂

When we reached Dores, we had a quick dip in Loch Ness, (one of the things on our ‘must do’ list) sadly Nessie was nowhere to be seen… But there were plenty of ducks to keep us company!!

The Dores Inn gave us the best chicken burger ever!!

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And we set off fully fuelled for the final few miles to Inverness… Very Happy to have had what was probably the best day of the trip so far!!! And Alice’s favourite view…

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Day 15: Glen Coe to Fort Augustus

Miles travelled: 53

Metres climbed: 384

Near misses: 2

We set off at a speedy pace hoping to keep Mummy warm after yesterday, which seemed to work! (Apparently you have to work hardest at the back – even though Alice and I have been taking a the headwind :))

After a quick coffee in Fort William we popped into Inverlochy Castle for a comfort break (unlike Mummy and me Alice is unable to use the bushes and needs a five star toilet to relieve herself on route ;)) It was a stunning setting though so we were glad to see it 🙂

We then stopped for a snack overlooking Loch Lochy… After I nearly fell into a pot hole the size of Oxford, but was rescued by a soft verge and nearby fence 🙂 Then for a few brief moments the sun broke through revealing the splendid scenery 🙂

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We were touched to receive two spontaneous donations… From Alice Forest,  Sheila Waters and Lyndsay the waitress… Perhaps an indication of how shattered we were looking 😉 Mummy was so hungry we had to supplement our snack with some of the chocolate Cordelia gave us a few days ago!!

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We then pushed on alongside the loch to Fort Augustus… When it wasn’t raining the view was mesmering 🙂

But after the drama of yesterday, and mummy nearly falling off her bike when her coat got caught in her rear wheel we were very relieved to reach Fort Augustus and the legendary Loch Ness in one piece!!

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Day 14: Loch Lomond to Glen Coe

Miles travelled: 54

Metres climbed: 760

Hours of torrential rain, wind and hail: 8

So far our experience of Scotland is that it is every bit as bleak as it is beautiful! The scenery certainly is stunning, it’s just that today we only got to glimpse it through sheets of rain and fog. Apparently the “real feel” temperature today was 2 degrees C, which was definitely a little colder than we’d planned for…

Today at was all about the stops! We planned our route around places where we could shelter from the elements… The first was the atmospheric Drovers Arms for the best coffee of the trip..

Then after a few more soggy hours we stopped at Tyndrum to defrost and refuel… The Real Food Cafe was fantastic – definitely set us up for the afternoon ahead 🙂 I certainly would like the recipe for their Lime Courgette Cake…

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Glen Coe didn’t seem as big a climb as we’d expected, but that was partly because we couldn’t see all that much… Nevertheless it was very satisfying to know that we have reached the Highlands and crossed Rannoch Moor…

It was colder than we’d realised and Mummy was almost hypothermic by the time we reached the Clachaig Inn and my feet were almost frostbitten (sorry for the gross picture!) 😦

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Day 13: East Kilbride to Loch Lomond

Miles travelled: 45 metres climbed: not many… Weirdly, despite being a pretty short flat day, we all were struggling a but today… Maybe it was the after effects of our bumpy ride yesterday… And I suppose that navigating Glasgow made things a bit more interesting! imagewe stopped at Clarkston Cycle Centre to see if anything did need tightening on our bikes (which apparently it didn’t :)) but mummy did need a new tyre… In fact her inner tube was basically poking out – the guy in the shop couldn’t believe we hadn’t noticed! Oops!! Alice navigated excellently through Glasgow and we eventually found our way onto a cycle path that was actually signposted to Loch Lomond… image The path wasn’t as great as it looked, but was lovely in places…

After 35 miles we were all flagging, but were revived by a MASSIVE lunch alongside the loch… We considered accelerating things by flying the last few hundred miles…

But the plane seemed to be heavily guarded by swans so we got back on our bikes for the last 10 miles along side the loch and then had a quick swim before dinner and bed!! image image Unfortunately we did get a chance to try a deep fried mars bar… Not something I’ll ever be doing again!! Utterly gross is really the only way to describe it!! image

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Day 12: Moffat to East Kilbride

Miles travelled: 57

Metres climbed: 760

exploding tyres: one!

I was sad to leave Moffat – it was the quirkiest place we’ve visited, with lots of cute shops and yummy looking bakeries…

I was even more sad when I realised that the road we were following all day was so bumpy we felt like we were cycling uphill on a power plate!!! The scenery was awesome, but we were concentrating so hard on staying on our bikes that we hardly had a chance to see it…

We eventually made it to Lesmahagow and found the most amazing tea place… Abbeys on the Green felt like an oasis in a desert!! Spotless, yummy and friendly…

While we were recharging our batteries we met another trio of girls cycling end to end the other way! They raved about Scotland and re-assured us that the roads improved 🙂 yay! They did mention something about having to tighten their bikes all the time… Can’t say I knew what they were talking about!! Hope it’s not too important! image

We are, however, getting quicker at replacing inner tubes… Luckily! Mummy had a blow out shortly after lunch 😦 it was a bit scary – sounded like a gunshot, but fortunately she was fine and the bike was repaired pretty quickly!!

We pushed quickly in to East Kilbride and after a minor detour to avoid a closed road we made it to the farm where we were staying, which had a very cool swing, so Alice was happy! 🙂

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Day 11: Ullswater to Moffat

Miles travelled: 70

Metres climbed: about 600

Bikes repaired: one (twice!)

Feeling all refreshed after our rest day and stuffed full of porridge we got our bikes from the garage where they had been locked only to find that Alice’s had a flat tyre 😦

After replacing the inner tube and inflating with a mini canister of compressed air it almost immediately deflated again… Possibly for the first time this trip, Alice wasn’t very happy! Luckily Philip, the kind gardener, came to our rescue and helped us replace the inner tube again… And fortunately this time it worked!! Not only did Philip fix our bikes, but yesterday he drove us to a nearby town for some emergency supplies (so that we didn’t have to cycle on our rest day) and on too of that he generously donated to support our challenge!! Philip we can’t thank you enough!!!

Alice was still a bit worried though, especially as her bike was also squeaking so we stopped at Halfords in Carlisle and the guys there kindly gave her bike a “once over” for free 🙂 it is so amazing and humbling how much kindness and generosity we are encountering every day!!

We were sad to leave the lakes, but consoled ourselves in the knowledge that hopefully we’ll be back before too long for the Windermere swim!

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We pushed on along a great road which followed the motorway, and pretty soon crossed into Scotland!! 🙂 it seems hard to believe we’ve made it this far…

We had a yummy coffee in the Old Toll Bar (literally next to the border!) to celebrate! It is amazing to think of all the couples who must have said their vows in Gretna for so many different reasons over the years.., eloping actually sounds quite romantic! 😉

After Gretna the road continued to follow alongside the motorway, but sadly the condition deteriorated so that it was a rather uncomfortable ride… Very bumpy!! And weirdly, although it looked like we were going down hill – a lot of effort seemed to be required to build up or maintain any speed… Very weird!!

We were very happy to make it to Moffat!! 🙂

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Day 9: Forton to Ulllswater

Miles travelled: 62

Metres climbed: 1000 (400 of them in one go!!)

Punctures repaired: 1

Despite the fact that our day started with our first fall (a clipped-in classic ;)),  a puncture 2 minutes later and the biggest “hill” I’ve ever seen…  this might have been our best day so far 🙂

The A6 to Kendal was almost entirely flat… Which was actually a bit weird… Lancaster was surprisingly attractive…

After a quick bite (Alice had the best beetroot and goats cheese sandwich of her life!) in Kendal we popped into Evans cycles who kindly pumped all our tyres and seemed amused when we told them we were headed for Ullswater…

We soon realised why! The road up to Shap wasn’t so much “bumpety Bumpety” as one big (actually massive!) bump!! 400m and about an hour of non stop climbing!! Fun fun fun…

We then took the ‘scenic’ route across the lakes to Ullswater (mummy was not best pleased ;)) but it was gorgeous…

So happy for a rest day here…Rest days are the best days 😉

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Day 8: Chester to Forton

Miles travelled: 70

Metres climbed: 450

Bike shops visited: 2

Having just posted home our unwanted items to lighten our loads (including my rain coat!) We set off from Chester in light drizzle which quickly became heavy rain 😦 Yuck!!

After about 12 miles as we were climbing a hill out of Frogsham I got our first puncture of the trip… Luckily Frogsham had two bike shops, one of which speedily replaced my inner tube and even gave me a headlight for my bike and the other had a perfect replacement rain jacket! Oops! After warming ourselves at Old Hall Hotel, which sadly had  fake fire, but they did make up for it by giving us towels!!

Feeling much warmer in my new raincoat, we pushed on over the estuary on the scariest dusk carriageway bridge ever… Through Rainhill… Where the locomotive was invented…image

Then to Dentons Green for an amazing lunch… Mummy had her second bowl of porridge (we’ve discovered it really is go mixture!) and two portions of yummy carrot cake…

From there we pushed on into Lancashire and discovered our favourite road yet – the A6, maybe not the prettiest, but certainly the most direct and flat we’ve been on 🙂

Dinner was possibly the best yet… Huge vats of pasta which would probably have been enough to sustain an army!

Even better the charming waiter said we could follow the A6 all the way to Ullswater, and while it is flat until Kendal, from then on the route gets a little “Bumpety Bumpety”!

Oh well… Bring on the bumps!! One day till rest day 😉

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Day 7: Bishops Castle to Chester

Miles travelled: just over 63
Metres climbed : not many (yay!! :))

We set off at 7am as we were determined not to be arriving in the dark…

It felt great to have conquered the large part of the mileage by 11am for “brunch”. The New Inn at Baschurch kindly opened their kitchens early to make us poached eggs on toast!! The yummiest we’ve ever had…

After finally unlocking our bikes (yes the key was in my pocket… It just took 20 mins to find it!!) We set off again…

After Baschurch we seemed to be in a food desert and by the time we made it to Holt we were flagging, but soon revived by Hildegard’s tea room, which seemed like an Oasis in a desert… And she even sponsored us as well!!

From there it was just 10miles to Chester!!

I’m just so grateful it was a flat day 🙂 and for my clip ins… I’ve slightly pulled my left knee so luckily was able to pedal mostly right legged…

On to Preston!!

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Day 6: Bettwys Newydd to Bishops Castle

Miles travelled: 70 (pretty direct today with the number one navigator in control!)

Metres climbed: 800

Bikes serviced: All 3 (apparently we had basically burnt through our brake pads… So it was lucky we decided to get them checked in Hereford! Climb on Bikes were super helpful… I think they thought it was pretty funny how clueless we were!!)

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We set off after the most amazing breakfast at Brynderwen Court feeling fully fueled (with ample supplies to last us for the next few days!), but very sad to leave!! 

imageAfter our navigational issues yesterday we decided to follow a more direct route… Which meant more traffic, but was much quicker. We left Wales behind us and headed off into the Shropshire hills..

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We finally made it to Bishops Castle… Feeling pretty relieved to make it in the daylight 🙂 .

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