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PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 9:53 pm 
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Chapeau, sir!! :claps:

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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 9:07 am 
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Huzzah!

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:37 pm 
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Ah, there you are! I've been wrestling duff stored passwords and that bloody captcha hence the eerie silence.

\:D/ YAY I CAN HAS LEJOGGLE! \:D/

The last bit, after being run out of town by RB and Will, was many and varied. It started with a day of basic mile-making to get out of the central belt; after Stirling, I was tiring so decided to flump at the Keltie Bridge campsite just south of Callander, which was ace. "Och, there's always room fer a wee tentie!" indeed.

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Fear and Lothian by andygates, on Flickr

Next day was absurdly epic. Up the road through Callander and Lochearnhead (pretty stretch), then the road hikes up to climb Glen Ogle. Stop and look behind you if you ride this, it's a gorgeous alpine grind. Then oh dear gods the horror of the National Strategic Headwind Reserve toward Crianlarach, for a vivifying pint of 80/- and the decision of the day: hack on to Glencoe despite the hour, or not? Faint heart never won fair mileage. Tyndrum is an adventure-holiday town; Bridge of Orchy a pub and a phone box, and then it's the Moor of Despair with bones and swampy Finnish terrain, before the just magnificent climb over Rannoch Moor to the Glencoe Pass.

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We can't stop here, this is midge country by andygates, on Flickr

Image
One does not simply cycle into Mordor by andygates, on Flickr

Wow. Just wow. I didn't realise we had terrain so magnificently vertical and so wonderfully hostile. The Three Sisters were flashing flank among the cloud, the skeletons of deer and bits of car along the road added the necessary menace, and I absolutely must return.

Next day, Glencoe to Fort William and up the Great Glen, was a weird letdown. It was a bit too nice: beautiful but not magnificent. I'd been spoiled. The Ford Model T rally were fun, and then it was making-miles to the closed hostel, then more miles to Drum for a campsite with chickens in the shower.

Oh! I have a low-rent accommodation formula:

£5 - campsite, loos, dodgy lighting, scary facilities.
£10 - campsite, nice facilities.
£20 - hostel, shared room and shared facilities.
£30 - B&B, shared facilities.
£40 - B&B, en-suite.

Where was I? At the top of Loch Ness. Next day started with an epic climb, gorgeous burned moorland, and then at Muir of Ord drama! Rear wheel rim failure! I have the Bike Hub app on my phone, which has "bike shops near me" (taking data from OSM) - Dryburgh Cycles were 7 miles away. I did try riding there, but the rim got worse so I had to get a taxi. Fifty quid later and I'm rolling again! :) Then it was up and over Easter Ross, a surprise rewarding ride because the plantation forest gave way to bog-cottony moor, with horizon rocks looming large before sweeping open a massive gawp vista of the firth, with a rainbow linking headlands, tailwind rain showers and yawping laughter down to another closed hostel and Mrs Doyle's B&B.

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Crac! Boum! Aiee! by andygates, on Flickr

Two days left! From Bonar Bridge a quick stop to repair a snapped gear cable, then up to Lairg, (via Falls of Shin and a husky race team) on the spooky Altnaharra road. Bleached clearcut forestry and more looming mountains made this really feel witchy, Approach To The Desolation Of Smaug stuff. Altnaharra was lovely, with an pubbe, and then around the loch and a long lazy roll down the Naver valley (one-legged sheepdog!) to Bettyhill. Another fiver-and-livestock campsite, but with a great beach view.

...and then the final day. The terrain along the north coast is like Cornwall: granite, deep little valleys, twisty roads, sheep, gorse, sea. Slow and hard going, but with Orkney flashing a bit of thigh [1] every so often. Then it's Caithness, which is, frankly, a hole. Flat, bleak, windy, and with those flagstone walls that look like lazy rendering with only two dimensions. Head down, tunes on, charge for the line!

And I like the old Jan de Groot Addams house in its sad state, and the campsite at the head is lovely in my book, though I may have been biased by the ridiculous high I was on. :D

Orkney was a rotten tease: while camped, the sun hardly set. It got to about 11 before deigning to dip below the horizon under the archipelago and then popped up on the other side a few hours later. Bad for sleep, great for wow-factor and churning need to go there!

Image
Tent sunset at John O'Groats by andygates, on Flickr

Puff, pant. :bleurgh: :mrgreen:

Photos! http://www.flickr.com/photos/andygates/ ... 789713354/




[1] I got this very ... sexualised notion of landscape on this trip. Flashing thigh, being a tease, all very improper and old-fashioned. I blame the damnable isolation. Just me and the sheep... though my aesthetic and erotic wires are always closely linked, and they got totally crossed. The number of utterly nsfw tweets I composed and deleted is, er, significant. :oops:

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 10:55 pm 
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Brilliant write up. I feel quite breathless with the excitement.

Sam

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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 11:12 pm 
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I'm still decompressing - I spent today edgy because while I was in the office, how was I going to make the day's mileage? ](*,)

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 9:02 am 
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Faaaaantastic. I had wondered if you didn't luv us any mor :(

But when you're back it's well worth it. :)

Great achievement. Good write up. Fab photos. The sort of adventure that shouldn't really come to an end...

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 7:33 pm 
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Heh, no, but I've been operating with constrained resources (!) and got stuck in a password-reset-and-captcha fugue here: the captcha is really hard to see, so I kept failing it and getting cross. ](*,) All of the rich forums are real dogs to post to on a mobile; Tapatalk makes it great, but only CycleChat has a tapatalk plugin (psst ;) ) and I don't know that lot. WAP interfaces are fine to read, but posting into browser fields is always a bit random even so.

And who says the adventure has to end? I'm just taking a couple of rest days while I pay off the wheel and posh hotel. :mrgreen:

Next? Something with fewer daily miles and more other riders, I think: solo has the problem that there are mandatory items (stove & pans, tent, FAK, tools) that you only need one of, and you have to carry it all. And with 25-40 miles -- a half day riding -- the other half could be spent dicking around stone circles or lollygagging on the beach (or, er, hiding from the rain).

Plus those bloody Dutchmen had to mention the North Sea Cycle Route, didn't they?

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 10:27 pm 
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Chapeau, sir! :claps:

And a hearty ROFL @ the "midge country" caption... :lol:

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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 11:54 pm 
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Nice write up. "This is midge country" ;) ? Damn right don't stop (or the gently swooping hoards will sniff you out ...).

Orkney, you say?? Different scale from what you've just done, but great for gentle historical/natural historical bimbling about and island-hopping. Way nicer than Caithness, but just as windy.

(Hmmm - ponders Scottish end-to-end: Mull of Galloway to Muckle Flugga/Hermaness ...).

EDIT: (... or side-to-side. Ardnamurchan to somewhere east).

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 12:17 am 
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Contemplating a tour of Scotland myself, now.

Sam

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 7:46 am 
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So much loveliness it's hard not to want to come right along! Just eyeballing ye mappe, I'm drawn to a week circular route taking in Mordor, up to Kinlochleven, then west and along the coastal A-road to Oban. Highlands and islands, yum. But then I want to just go to Mordor and hike the ridgey scrambly walks as well. *twitch*

One thing that I really did appreciate on the whole lejog was the gradient of A-roads. With a very few exceptions, you'll never find a chevron on an A-road because the HGVs don't like 'em. A loaded touring bicycle is an HGV! :grin:

(Actually, I think I'm a steam locomotive: loud and puffy, hauling an enormous load, fairly slow, with huge fuel consumption and terrible power-to-weight ratio, grinding to a halt on steep hills!)

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:03 am 
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And producing foul-smelling smoky gases?

OK, I think I took that one step too far.

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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 11:45 am 
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AndyGates wrote:
All of the rich forums are real dogs to post to on a mobile; Tapatalk makes it great, but only CycleChat has a tapatalk plugin (psst ;) ) and I don't know that lot. WAP interfaces are fine to read, but posting into browser fields is always a bit random even so.


I shall add it to my list of improvements, sir. Sir only had to ask.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:28 pm 
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Oh, I say, top work old chap. :badger:

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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2011 1:52 pm 
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...The A-road chevron exception being Parbold's 1-in-6, where we did our skirt-the-hill bit.

Bloody good stuff thoughbut. Admittedly I've been somewhat distracted of late, but the Preston jolly gave me a few things to think about:
1. My dad thought it was great, and considering his illness and the fact that he died only 12 days later, anything which cheered him up was bloody marvellous.
2. "I'm not a long-distance cyclist." Well, that might need revising.
3. I still don't like crowds, but I'm now prepared to consider that 'three' does not necessarily constitute 'a crowd.'

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