Very low, grey skies and a much colder day greeted us as we loaded up the Beast for the day’s ride. We left Newtonmore along the main road – many smaller Scottish towns have little more. The road ran reasonably level up the North side of the Spey. The national cycle route actually switched to run along the Southern edge of the wide valley but the wind was coming from the north and carrying a fine drizzle, so we stayed on the road and close to the trees for shelter. A mile or so up the road, there was a parallel cycle track for a while, which we took to, as the road wasn’t exactly quiet.
Instead of cars we had to contend with walkers heading out for the day but it made for some interesting manoeuvres and cheery ‘hellos’. We passed through Kingussie and under the A9 onto a B road which was immediately quieter. It threaded its way through low conifers and silver birches towards Avimore some 15 miles from our start point. The drizzle gradually transformed into ‘proper’ rain and on reaching Avimore we were both ready for a coffee, cake and chance to warm up a little. Traffic through the town was busy so we headed for the cycle route nearby.
The track, though almost Disneyesque in the way it rose and dropped and curved through the trees, was really more suited to mountain bikes than tourers. It ran quite close to the railway along which an old steam train carried lots of grinning tourist passengers. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the camera out quick enough! At Boat of Garten our mileometer passed 1,000 miles and started again from zero. We stopped briefly by the station in a little bike hire shop to talk Tour de France with the owner then headed up the road for our last 4 mile stint to Carrbridge.
We found our B&B but, on the advice of the landlady, went straight back out and down into the town (not far) to get food at the pub before they stopped serving. Then it was back to park the bike – in a disused church!, bath and catch the remaining ladies final on TV. Our B&B provided a really nice evening meal and afterwards we sat with a coffee and chatted (well, actually, I did most of the talking) with a couple of ladies from Buckie, who were interested in our adventures.
Tomorrow we head for Inverness, 35 miles away but with a few climbs in between and, if the weather doesn’t improve, it could be a hard day on the bike.