We were all looking forward to today. After a week of extremely long days, 60 miles through the beautiful Scottish scenery seemed an easy prospect. We knew the wind and rain would descend by late morning / early afternoon so with another early start, we thought we would get a few miles covered before we got wet.
Oh, the best laid plans! The rain started by about mile 10 and was torrential! We had 30 miles to cover before our first stop with nowhere to along the route that we could stop beforehand. We followed the busy A9 on a ‘cycle track’ that our road bikes were not equipped for. The gravel, potholes and mud all made more treacherous by the heavy rain.
For many of us, these 20 miles were the toughest we had encountered. Black skies, cold, wet and windy combined with the road conditions, we had to dig deep to reach Dalwhinnie.
Thankfully our support team were as always on hand when we reached Dalwhinnie, with layers of extra clothing and a wonderfully welcoming cafe with a log burning fire. A hot drink, bowl of soup and change of clothing, along with the usual camaraderie and support for each other and an hour later we were ready to brave the elements again.
Thankfully, the rain eased off and for periods, actually stopped and we even encountered some brief glimpses of sunshine for the second leg of our journey. A brief pit stop in Newtonmore and we reached Aviemore late by afternoon. The scenery was stunning and we managed to enjoy much of it on this leg of the journey.
We had a ‘Highland Buffet’ arranged for the evening and thoroughly enjoyed the ‘eat as much as you like’ element of the meal after expending so many calories during the day.
No two days have been similar and we think about the last leg of our journey over the next three days from Aviemore to Evanton to Helmsdale to John O’Groats with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. We are tired and saddle weary but very much in good spirits as we get closer to the end of our challenge.