Penultimate day and another one over 100 miles. 108.2 tiring hilly miles. Nothing like the hills of yesterday but with my legs a bit drained it was all a bit of a struggle. The scenery, particularly from Lairg to Altnaharra, more than made up for this. In fact I'd say that the final stretch of 20 miles was the most beautiful of the trip so far.
Set off in really cold weather and climbed up and over from Grantown to Inverness. It felt like slow going and it was. Joined the busy A9 and crossed the Kessock Bridge to The Black Isle. I, mistakenly, thought this bit would be flat. No. Managed to find, and take, the road over the highest point at Mount Eagle - about 250m. Nice descent and rejoin the A9 for the Cromarty Bridge. Beautiful views out over the firth but couldn't take full advantage of them as I had to focus on the busy road. Terrible road surface and speeding traffic.
As for much of the day the next stretch included some of NCN route 1. It seemed that along here (on relatively quiet B roads I might add) that route appeared to have been designed to keep cycles off the road. Tracks running parallel to the road that then crossed the road to do the same before crossing the road to do the same before crossing ... well you get the idea. I can sort of understand why this might of been necessary but if I had been trying to follow it religiously it would have driven me insane.
Another longish climb over the Struie and some good views at the top before a speedy descent down towards the road to Bonar Bridge. The road then eventually went past The Falls of Shin where I met up with Cath and Sarah for a break (much needed as I was thirsty and hungry).
Feeling refreshed and ready for the last 25 miles
The road from here to the B&B at Altnaharra was just superb. Breathtaking views on single track road. I was really tired but the reason I kept stopping wasn't to recover but to take in the views. I did stop for a pint at The Crask Inn though. An oasis in the middle of nowhere. Feeling refreshed it was downhill to Altnaharra and a run I'll never forget. Clouds over Ben Klibreck and just stunning scenery.
Summit of Ben Klibreck covered in clouds.
Last day tomorrow. 80 miles, or thereabouts, to John O'Groats.