Due to a set of fortuitous circumstances I found myself with two totally free days and set out to make the best of them.
I set myself two major objectives 1.Climb a Munro (a Scottish mountain over 3000ft)
2. Cycle an iconic Scottish route.
I set off for the North west of Scotland at 0700 and although it was a working day for everyone else missed the majority of the rush hour traffic. I was parked up at Coulags and ready to climb the munro by 1130. The munro, Maol Chean-Dearg, looked amazing in the sunlight and was beset by other “baggers”.
A small munro at 3061 feet I had negotiated the easy lower slopes, the higher rock fields and made my way back to the car by 1730.
I was staying in a Youth Hostel in Applecross which meant a drive across the amazing Bealach na Ba. To quote Wikipedia “Bealach na Bà is a winding, single track road through the mountains of the Applecross peninsula, in Wester Ross in the Scottish Highlands. The historic mountain pass was built in 1822 and is engineered similarly to roads through the great mountain passes in the Alps, with very tight hairpin bends that switch back and forth up the hillside and gradients that approach 20%. It boasts the steepest ascent of any road climb in the UK, rising from sea level at Applecross to 626 metres, and is the third highest road in Scotland. ” You may have guessed by now that this was the second item on my list.
I had a good nights sleep in the hostel aided no doubt by the fact that none of us in room snored!
I planned on doing the Applecross loop 44 miles of single track tarmac with 4400 feet of ascent , 2000+ of which is the climb up from Applecross. The road winds and undulates it’s way through amazing countryside with views of mountains, beaches and forests following you around all the way. A very hot day was forecast so I rode my Ridley Orion Team with a small backpack and bladder. The road rises even before you leave the village and basically does not stop going up until you reach the car park at the summit. The road was not busy when I left, 0830, but as the day wore on the traffic became more frequent due in part to the Peninsula being part of the North Coast 500.
The ascent down the other side was exhilarating, scary, fast and ear popping. Strava gave my top speed as 40mph!
At the bottom I turned left and continued around the loop. Although the Bealach is the biggy there are plenty other lumps along this road 2400 feet of them to be exact. The route is what I call an OOOOO and AAAAA route every corner you turn there is a better view than the one you just went by.
The temperature was rising and the level in my camelback was falling when I happened upon this little oasis of rehydration and refuelery! Oh and the Amazing flapjacks were!!
The final ascent and approach to the hostel crowned a magnificent day.
A quick pit stop load the bike back on the car and I was off and heading for home.
I arrived at 1855 just less than 36 hours after I had left.
So the next time you have 36 hours what will you do………….