Land, sea, sky

If the north-west coastline of Scotland could be guaranteed good weather we’d have probably ruined the place by building holiday homes and condos galore but, thanks to those fierce prevailing weather fronts that come straight in off the Atlantic, coupled with the annual midge invasion, its golden beaches remain wild and beautiful and often deserted.

But if you’re lucky enough to be up there before the midge season starts and when the sun is shining – and it is always more luck than planning – the Scottish Highlands and Islands surely have to be one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the world.

Last week I worked as a tour guide for Pedal Nation Cycling Holidays on one of their North Coast 500 trips. We were incredibly fortunate to have a rare easterly wind all week, keeping the rain away and the sun shining for the majority of the holiday.

The holiday ran for nine days with seven days of cycling. I accompanied the riders on three of those days and drove the support vehicle for the rest. The group got on well together, were great company and helped to make my job an easy one.

This gave me the opportunity to take lots of photographs of the landscape looking its best so, rather than writing a day-to-day account of our week, I’m going to let the photographs tell the story…

The Itinerary

Day One – Inverness to Lochcarron: 103 km

Day Two – Lochcarron to Gairloch via Bealach Na Ba: 127 km

Day Three – Gairloch to Ullapool: 90 km

Day Four – Ullapool to Kinlochbervie: 129km

Day Five – Kinlochbervie to Melvich: 115 km

Day Six – Melvich to Altnaharra: 131 km

Day Seven – Altnaharra to Inverness: 113 km

Lochcarron – Day One’s destination
The road to Bealach Na Ba – Day Two
The climb up Bealach Na Ba from the top the bend
Along the coast road from Applecross to Shieldaig – Day Two
Descending into Sheildaig – Day Two
Gairloch – Day Two’s destination
Aultbea, first coffee stop of the day – Day Three
Stac Pollaidh – Day Four
Drumbeg – Day Four
Looking across to Kylesku Bridge – Day Four
Pedalling past the Scourie Dykes exposed at the roadside – Day Four
Kinlochbervie – Day Four’s destination
Day Five was all about the beaches, from Durness to Melvich

Balnakeil Beach, Durness
Durness – Day Five
Loch Tongue – Day Five
Melvich, Day Five’s destination
Heading inland to Forsinard Flows nature reserve, the largest RSPB reserve in the UK – Day Six
Forsinard Peat Bog locks in more carbon than all of the forests in the UK and France combined
Sunset at Altnaharra, Day Six’s destination
Altnaharra – Day Six
An overcast start to Day Seven at the first cafe stop at Lairg
The sun finally came out to welcome us back into Inverness

3 thoughts on “Land, sea, sky”

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