The NC500 – The good, the bad and the ugly – Part 3
So – we finished off with sunshine and snacks by Loch a’ Chuilinn..
Proper munch was on our minds – and by munch – I mean LUNCH.
Onward towards Achnasheen which is where we were to turn left to the Wester Ross coast road towards Applecross.
This photo below and the following show two very contrasting weather systems.
On one side we have lovely glowing sunshine – and in the second ….a severe downpour headed straight for us.
I know you are reading this Kirstie – and I apologise in advance for making you relive this part of the trip…… BUT – at this point I decided to put on my waterproofs … Kirstie did not. What happened next included the weather system in the second photo …
That’s me – unpacking my waterproofs to chuck on asap.
Passing through Achnasheen we swung left – TO THE COAST WE PEDALLED! 🙂
Note – About 15 minutes out of Achnasheen is a boardwalk along Allt Mhartuin, out to what looks like a Bothy. Will need to return as it looked beautilful! Check the wee train on the left.
Check the water droplets on Kirstie. This was the beginning…
As we flew down this road – and by flew .. I mean we actually flew AGAINST the wind like a struggling cartoon pigeon. Pedalling downhill is a weird feeling – so much resistance and willing gravity to work, especially with the weight on my bike. Some superhuman man on his very light and luggage free bike whizzed past us – I got such a fright I yelped! Haha. He was gone from sight VERY quickly. This must be his training ground I thought….
As we made it to the bottom of this hill, the rain began – heavy heavy rain. And then hail.
Here is a link to a video I took in the midst of this https://gopro.com/v/o6Ew27K1dZkvO (sadly too large to upload as video here)
Even in this insanity – I was loving it and felt VERY alive! This feeling alive may have been helped by the odd passing truck, who chucked water and huge gusts of the already mental wind straight onto us. Wohoooo!
Kirstie at this point still did not have waterproofs on ….And she was pedalling harder – to get the hell out of this weather, so she was quite a chunk ahead. Once I had caught up with her / she had slowed down a bit, we both had refuge/lunch on our minds. This rain was unlike any rain I had ever cycled through on my bike before. Relentless – and the hail was starting to hurt my face .. aaand I stupidly didn’t have any glasses to cover my eyes. Even Kirstie – with her glasses, was battling to see through the streaming water.
Wheeeeere could we stop? We had spotted somewhere we wanted to munch at Lochcarron but we had no idea where we were in relation to that as all signal was gone. Off. The. GRID.
The rain continued for a good while – and was just as ferocious. This was evident when we stopped briefly and Kirstie took off her shoes to pour the rivers out of them. I didn’t say a word about waterproofs at this point .. and didn’t until after this trip had ended….WISE.
Never underestimate the positive influence of your friend, team mate and support system all rolled into one, to pull you out of your mental and physical block. Now, and throughout what was to come – we both pulled eachother out of some pretty bleak lows. It is quite hard to explain, but it’s not even a lack of motivation – it’s more a plane of delirium you reach and your body just going into a weird place of bleugh. In this first case – the wet (sorrrry) and extremely cold Kirstie needed a bit of a boost as we stopped in the middle of nowhere. I pulled out a magic treat – a Lotus biscuit. Sugar sugar sugar. This brought a childish happiness to me and my face and I think it helped Kirstie a wee bit too – my ridiculousness and sugar love.
Now – we thought we were at the bottom of the loch and felt some hope fill us – sadly it was not. Just some big pools!
Kirstie needed to go fast at this point to keep warm – so off she flew! Mental space is also important on these kind of trips – and if you need to boost, you boost! Happy that Kirstie and I have a pretty damn good understanding of eachother and what is needed when. I continued to cycle along at my own steady pace – making time for a few videos of me rambling on about the surroundings and feelings.
After a while – I had no real concept of how far I’d gone, I caught up with Kirstie and we both exchanged our hungry thoughts and a few where the hell are we’s??!!
Cycling along for another chunk, the rain began to lift slightly as we continued against the wind. There was not doubt about how beautiful the landscapes were surrounding us – and what a privaledge for it to be so quiet for us too. I think these roads are usually pretty busy with the attraction of the NC500 route for cars, vans and bike alike! Did I also mention – NO MIDGES?
We cycled past a beautiful church on the right – Lochcarron East Church. These churches on the West Coast look so strong and resilient – as part of the landscapes themselves I feel!
The original lunch spot was to be the Waterside Cafe I believe … but our rumbles were getting a bit too loud – and Kirstie a bit too cold. So we took a very abrupt left at the first sight of what looked like a food spot.
The wonderful Locharron Golf Club. The rain was now TORRENTIAL as we pulled up and left our bikes against the building – trying to gather what we needed to take inside. We walked in like wild west cowboys – with the water continuing to pour down our faces, even when inside. What a riot! We were the only people there – lucky for them haha! We were greeted by the loveliest couple who ran the place – and who treated us incredibly. If you are ever up that neck of the woods – please take time to stop, if even for some lovely chat! Our treatment only got better – they blasted the heating for us so we could hang and dry our stuff out – which was a dream. We ordered WAY too much food.
A soup to start and a couple of pots of tea.
We were treated like QUEENS. We spoke of our ambitions to get to Torridon that night to which we received a “oodf” from the kind couple – it was already 2.30pm and this was a overly leisurely lunch that we two had … I don’t even remember the time that we left. We were now laughing about the rain and all worries and mental dips faded away. I planned a treat on the horizon – to have some dinner at Bo and Muck, part of the Torridon Hotel grounds I believe. This was a back and forth conversation on the phone while we wolfed our food. “What time will you arrive?. A hilarious question, as we had no idea. We said 9pm – and the kind man on the phone said they would kindly put food aside for us to be heated up at that time. What a yummy prospect that lay ahead…
Now, back the golf club – we were fuelling up for was the infamous Bealach Na Ba – which at this point was not too far away at all …..
NEXT TIME ON THE BLOG (I know we haven’t even finished day one yet!!)
We meet the Bealach Na Ba and beyond – and did we make it in time for dinner?
Thank you for reading – and as always I’d love to hear from you! So comment at the bottom of this page if you wish.
Til next time,
I NEED TO KNOW what happened after you left Lochcarron! I used to cycle from my Grandparent’s house in the village over to Kishorn to stay with my uncle and aunt when I was a teenager. I’ve also cycled from Inverness to Lochcarron in similarly apocalyptic conditions – I ate TWO full meals at the Locharron Hotel whilst soaking into their soft furnishings. That’s mighty ambitious to go to Torridon via Applecross after the morning you had!
Installment 4 coming soon …. Thank you for reading Julie 🙂
Sounds like an eventful cycle you had in those mental conditions!
Did somebody mention waterproofs?! If in doubt, ALWAYS put them on. Lesson learnt.
Never under estimate how good a bowl of potato and leek soup, a bowl of chips, a sausage butty and a pot of tea will taste.
I sure did Kirstie .. I sure did!
What a trip! I don’t know how you kept going that long in that awful weather. But what a stunning part of the world that is. I love it up there. And yes, nothing like some leek and tattie soup on a cold wet day!