Travels By Jango, Rhino and Helios tandem
An early morning start as we had a long day ahead with rain forecast and we did not want to lose time as we were intending to catch our fourth and final ferry of the trip. The Nigg Ferry crosses the mouth of the Cromarty Firth from Cromarty to… Nigg Ferry – which is just a wee place consisting of a few houses and a pub. And a landing stage. Even so, it’s bigger than Nigg. The “Cromarty Queen” is not a big ship but it does carry cars, although there isn’t room for them to turn round to get off so the deck incorporates a turntable. On the 09:00 crossing we were the only passengers.
On the way to Tain a light shower began. We had been expecting this so already had our coats and rainlegs on. But then it became a heavy shower, shortly followed by a deluge. It really needed capes but we were already wet so we struggled on. Fortunately the rain did not last too long and it turned out to be the last of the showers and we even had a glimpse of the sun later in the day.
Ian had been under the impression that the Co-op in Tain would be our last chance to shop before Thurso – which we will not reach until Tuesday. Accordingly, Diane popped in to top up supplies while Ian went to “The Coffee Shop” and ordered a pot of tea for two. It was good value at £2.60 (we had 3 cups each) but as we cycled out of Tain we found a Lidl and also a much bigger Co-op with a built-in coffee shop.
The wind had been forecast as being a variety of strengths from a selection of directions depending on TV channel. It turned out to be so still the water showed a perfect reflection of the distant bank at times. The wind just started to stir the trees towards the end of the ride.
Leaving Tain we had to cycle along the A9 for a couple of kilometres, and there was no cycle path. We hoped that once we turned off onto the A836 – which, once again, used to be the A9 – things would get a little quieter. After all, with the main traffic flow crossing the Dornoch Firth on a bridge, the old route through Bonar Bridge should be little more than a 22-mile-long lay-by. Shouldn’t it? Wrong, and at Ardgay we were glad to follow NCN1 and turn off.
A few kilometres later we wished we had stayed on the main road. The cycle route uses the railway bridge to cross the Kyle of Sutherland, and there was a very new-looking steel structure securely attached to the side of the viaduct. Unfortunately, it was at a much lower level and to reach it there were steps! Although the cycle route clearly goes across it, when we reached the other side we found a sign describing it as a footbridge…
Carrying bikes and luggage across the bridge did sap our energy a bit so the undulating road beside the Falls of Shin found unresponsive legs struggling up short steep climbs but we knew we were nearly there so pushed on. We covered 67 kilometres today.