Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch Saturday 9th July 2016

Tour d'Ecosse Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch 92km 1345m ascent
Cumulative: 677km 7186m ascent Ferries 9 Islands 13
I like Harris Gin too, served with a slice of grapefruit.
On your 28th wedding anniversary you go up lots of hills, eat some nice fruit cake and get very wet again after a dry start and finish with gin. Today's plan:
We can't believe our trip is half over already, although that's not to say it's downhill from now on. If anything we're more likely to have headwinds to cope with.

Today is our 28th wedding anniversary. Cue more slippery slopes downhill references, and "how many life sentences is that then?" Exactly four we decide, time for a 7 year itch! Well that was after I gave Steve my card with the gorgeous picture of Seilebost beach on Harris in the sun, and he twigged it must be our anniversary as my birthday is August sometime and we got married July sometime.

Another delicious breakfast, Waterside B&B certainly kept up it's superb impression with us. we had tasty Orkney smoked cheese, compote (which seems a competitive BnB thing with secret family recipes) to start and the oh so superb Stornoway Black Pudding as part of the inevitable "full Scottish" I rarely have the full fry up, I much prefer scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, or smoked haddock or kippers with lots of mushrooms. This is the bees knees champion of black pudding. we loved it. I think I may have had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with mushrooms and black puddin'. I know I definitely had the latter! it wasn't all mixed together either.
Loch Broom towards Ullapool
We hauled our well fed bodies out of Ullapool on the main road alongside Loch Broom after absorbing the directions to the best coffee shop en route from our lovely landlord,  At the top of the loch was a chuffing hill, what a surprise! We carried on chuffing as we took a right onto a much quieter minor road and saw lots of 'slow down' signs for a sportive going in t'opposite direction. Oh yes, it's the normal world's weekend again.

The big hill after the main road wasn't as bad as we thought and we pulled over into a viewpoint, and admired the view of course, and probably ate  NAKD bar #31 and/or a banana #27 as was the norm by now.
Viewpoint after the climb up from Loch Broom. Quieter Gairloch road now. 
A nice dry bench!
It's positively sweltering this morning, we are only wearing arm warmers and gilet as extra layers with bare legs and it's dry. We descend, and as often seems the case, we can't believe how much ascent we have done and feel very sorry for all the sportive riders going the other way. We note the signs for Dundonnell and carefully ride all the way through the village and a couple of kilometres out the other side and as instructed, there was Maggie's coffee shop a little way past the village on the edge of Little Loch Broom.

It was a perfect stop. I think we had a toasted sandwich and home made soup then the fruit cake that hit the spot just perfectly. Lovely. The nice waitress enquired as to our route. She must have been a superb cyclist, apparently only one awful hill before Gairloch. One, she said...
There were five awful hills to Gairloch. We knew that really as we knew the stats, well over the 100m climbing per 10km that we class as a moderately uphill day. The rain set in and we were cold and wet by the time we reached Gairloch. The scenery was great though. We had to tour up and down a bit to find our BnB not at  the pretty end of town. It was OK, yes the pics on the website were accurate but a lot was missed out. Our room overlooked a garden of discarded junk, not the sea as you would presume. The owner and her family were nice enough, it was OK. But after a tough wet day it was just disappointing, Like being in someone's spare room with stuff stuffed in the wardrobe out of the way, and economy bottles of nearly finished shampoo. Sheets stinking of nasty fabric conditioner and slightly fusty. Not recommending this one!
Oh well, we showered, wrang out our kit, set the heater to high and went out to eat. Of course we hadn't factored in it being a Saturday, we hadn't booked. Back on the bikes and down the hill, we ended up on a nettley muddy track trying a short cut in our dry evening clothes. Turned away at the first suggestion and managed to beg our way to a table at The Shieling. Excellent Cullen Skink and steak saved the day, but served with just chips and onion rings. Please give us veg! Oh well, I fell in love with Harris gin served with grapefruit. That was fruit I think!
That is what you call a gin collection!
It was slightly drier as we puffed our way back up to the BnB and our room that was now doing impressions of a steamy hammam.

I'm so proud of Steve, we've had a tough few days with a few more to come and we are coping admirably, enjoying ourselves and appreciating Scotland's diversity in spite of the weather. Gairloch hasn't done it for us, but then again perhaps we didn't see the town at it's best. Most of the day was pretty good.
The chilly windswept palm trees in Gairloch
Touring Tips in Scotland

1 Do not believe the coffee shop assistant, however well meaning, as to how many hills you have to come until destination!

2 Arm warmers are your besties

3 After 28 years your husband still isn't going to remember your wedding anniversary!

Tour d'Ecosse quick links:

Day 1 Isle of Arran and a little Mull of Kintyre
Day 2 Inner Hebrides: Isles of Islay and Jura
Day 3 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Jura-Tayvallich to Oban
Day 4 Oban to Outer Hebrides: Barra and Vatersay
Day 5 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Barra Eriskay South Uist Benbecula Grimsay North Uist Beneray and Harris
Day 6 Outer Hebrides: Isles of Harris and Lewis to Callanish Stones
Day 7 Outer Hebrides: Butt of Ness to Stornoway and Ullapool
Day 8 Ullapool to Gairloch
Day 9 Gairloch to Shieldaig - Applecross Peninsula
Day 10 Bealach na Bà from Applecross to Plockton
Day 11 Plockton to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale
Day 12 Inner Hebrides: Isle of Skye Armadale to Ardnamurchan
Day 13 Ardnamurchan to Inner Hebrides: Isle of Mull to Oban to Loch Melfort
Day 14 Loch Melfort to Tarbert, Loch Fyne
Day 15 Tarbert Loch Fyne to Ardrossan THE END!

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