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Pertwee bike

NC500 by NC700: Monday 05/09

I was glad we were doing the Bealach na Bà, Pass of the Cattle, or Applecross Pass on the first day of the NC500 proper, otherwise I might have spent all week worrying about it. Steep, narrow, high and twisty, it's one of the UK's most challenging roads.

We set out from Inverness across the Moray Firth, heading for Wester Ross. Fast, sweeping roads gave way to a section of pretty, narrow ones with good visibility round the bends, and I felt my confidence rise.

In Lochcarron we stopped for fuel, bumping into forum member Trev who was doing the NC500 the other way round on a hired BMW. Eyeing the band of rain passing over, we decided to make it a coffee stop. Then: the pass!

We turned off the main road, travelling past rocky slopes and purple heather, with the sea below. The track wound upwards ever so gently and gradually, with miles of visibility. What was all the fuss about?

All at once, the fog descended and we arrived at three sharp hairpins. Cars slowed for a coach looming at the side of the road, taillights faded into the gloom ahead, and, at the top, rain and wind battered us. No hope of the splendid views afforded on nicer days; the rest of the group hightailed it for shelter, and, after a drink of water and a brief wibble, I followed.

I tiptoed down after Howard, my visor and glasses streaming with water. Soon I was safely at the bottom, where I cheered myself up with a golden syrup ice cream from the van outside the Applecross Inn and a possible sighting of a nuclear submarine out to sea.

The weather improved as we rode north along the coast. Pretty single track roads took us past Highland cattle with ridiculous hairstyles, while cars obeyed the police notices and pulled in to passing places so we could overtake. We travelled through the beautiful Bein Eirgh national park to Kinlochewe.

The Kinlochewe Hotel had friendly staff, a wide range of ales, whiskies and gins, delicious local food, and, next to the kettle in our room, the elusive Tunnocks Caramel Log.

After dinner, somewhat optimistically, Giles, Dave, John and I went for a walk to look for the Northern Lights. We didn't see them, but did see plenty of bats swooping after insects under a bridge.

Miles: 128

Calf

Coo
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Comments

I'm glad you got to see some cows somewhere, even if not on the pass. The ones in your pictures are both very splendid, and somehow because of the way they are sitting look like enormous shaggy cats curled up on the heather.
Hee, so they do!

Howard stroked the one in the second pic, which I thought was very brave of him.
Nice cattle. And I love the landscape — will definitely have to explore Scotland myself some day.

And bats, those are always a pleasure to see!
Scotland is lovely! It's just so far away, when I can get to the Channel ports in under 2 hours...
Yeah, it's funny how sometimes parts of your own country[1] are further away than foreign lands, isn't it? I can get to Sweden (that's *two* countries away) faster than I can get to the opposite end of Germany, for instance.
Sounds another thrilling adventure
All my adventures are thrilling!
You should set up your own Motorbike Travel show
Heilan' coos! Okay, I'll accept that it's a proper trip now. =:P

Bein Eirgh national park

Yay, Torridon! That's always been one of my favourite parts of the western mainland. Classic West Highland scenery and roads that are narrow and winding but easy for me to map-read on. Apparently the climb up Beinn Eighe itself offers spectacular views, which I can well believe -- but I took one look at the guide's mention of "mild scrambling" and decided that sort of thing was for eggs!

The Kinlochewe Hotel

Glad to see it seems to have pulled its socks up recently. This is the estabishment that couldn't rustle up a cup of coffee for a certain small group of my acquaintance at 10am not so long ago... it did look absolutely lovely as a place to stay, but a little short of the usual Highland welcome for passing travellers. Did you spot the shinty goals stashed in the nearby public car park? =:)

Very much looking forward to the next leg -- having a bet with myself as to whether you'll mention a certain something... all will be revealed in due course! ;)

Edited at 2016-09-15 03:31 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I wonder what it is? I hope I haven't missed something of interest! We'll find out soon!

I'm very surprised at the Kinlochewe; they were super friendly and efficient with us. Shinty goals, though? I don't even know what those are!
Shinty is like hockey but played with a caman (stick) that's triangular in cross-section, and fewer limitations on where you can wave it around. A shinty goal looks like a football goal, but is taller - because the goalie can reach up with his/her caman to block the ball.

Too rough for me, I'm a big wimp, but my sister was the first girl to play for the school (as the goalie).

Clash of the Ash - Runrig [YouTube]
Highland cattle! That first one has quite a magnificent 80s hairdo.
I think that first cow goes to the same hairdresser as Boris Johnson.
Most excellent cattle.
They were very lovely! I got some nice shots of the bikes riding past them, too.