Day 9: Inverness, Highland (80 miles / 838 total miles)
SUNDAY 30 JULY: The day did start well, indeed we’d fallen into cycling holiday mode, taking plenty of photos and watching a boat go up the locks at Neptune’s Staircase. There was 7 miles off road through Clunes Forest along the imaginatively named Loch Lochy and after very pleasant cycling along the towpath of the Caledonian canal we stopped at Fort Augustus for lunch seeking shade. So far so good.
Passing the southern shore of Loch Ness we commenced the monster climb up beyond Loch Tarff. It was the second toughest climb so far needing the lowest gear available but again the views were worth it.
At this point our luck changed. 20 miles from Inverness my gears stuck on the big ring at the front meaning I only had the highest gears, useless for climbing. With 14 miles remaining the heavens opened and with the rain stinging as it struck we continued what fortunately was a down hill descent into Inverness meaning I could just about struggle up the few inclines.
Entering Inverness we sat in a Bus shelter and reviewed our options. Plan A was Halfords: Joe my son Googled their opening hours, they closed at 6pm, it was quarter past. Plan B was to contact the bike taxi company based in Inverness booked to get us back from John O’ Groats. They were really helpful offering up the name of a local bike shop open on a Sunday as well as offering to take a quick look at my bike too. They’ll be open from 8.30 and based on their diagnosis about the gears we also have Plan C: hire a bike. At least there are options.
B&B rating on index of shame 1/4 mile. A positive note to finish.