4DTM Newtonmore to Aberfeldy

We’d to Wade our way through bridges today. Like castles, the workers who built them after remembered in the stones. The master is recalled by history. General Wade considered ‘his’ 1733 bridge at Aberfeldy his masterpiece. Won’t argue: the designer William Adam, father of the more famous Robert, did a five job. It’s taking traffic today not even dreamt of when built.

The other more temporary stars are lupins and orchids. With lupins to the fore, they have been a constant roadside companion even as the landscape changes.

Today we started collecting the Down the Middle points. A couple of the centre of Scotland (which will depend on how it’s calculated), and two furthest points from the sea. Well 5-8 miles away on hill sides but we’ll accept that.

It’s also worth stopping to look at plaques. An unassuming stone, opposite the Newtonmore accommodation, marked the last horse drawn mail wagon in Britain passing through in 1915.

Large pylons mark the way to the Loch Tummel hydroelectric scheme. Built in the 1940s they are now a part of the skyline, as are the road and rail routes. The cycling route follows the modern A9, again using the disused old road as a cycle track. Recycling!

After a few ups n downs Aberfeldy arrives. A fine wee place. The Birks of Aberfeldy await to be explored another time.

3DTM Inverness to Newtonmore

Leaving Inverness with the thought the next time I stay here in 2 months time it’ll be in the SYHA, we head off towards Culloden. No sign of the infamous wee jumped up Italian gnaff, nor Stinking Billies, just signposts to the site of the last pitched battle on mainland Britain.

The route today is NCN7 which runs parallel to the Beauly Firth before cutting south. This avoids the A9, following roughly the railway line to Aviemore. This ascends from sea level to its 401 Sliochd summit 25miles away, that’s a continuous 1%. The road builders were a bit coarser, preferring a roller coaster approach. Hill sir? Certainly let’s go straight up there.

For the rest of the day it’s mainly the old declassified A9. This is also an old General Wade route for many parts. So today: railway viaducts including Culloden (longest in Scotland) and the last remaining working wooden railway bridge; lovely road bridges. Perhaps the most interesting is the 1926 Findhorn Bridge near Tomatin. It’s unique.

The new A9 takes the vast bulk of the traffic. For most of the day we’ve wide B and C roads all to ourselves. This gives plenty of space to take in the changing landscape as we approach the Cairngorms and Monarch of the Glen territory.

Bit damp at the start it soon cleared up. Midges made a brief appearance for the first time just to rewind is not to get complacent.

Tomorrow off piste with General Wade to Aberfeldy.

2DTM Bonar Bridge to Inverness

More expensive doesn’t equate to better. We’d booked the Glen Mhor Hotel in 2019 for a 2020 cycling trip as a treat at the end. Trip didn’t happen of course: the Glen Mhor was the only venue not to refund. So we’re using the booking tonight, and paying an extra £40 to do so. Service mediocre, room okish – the one seat riles me. Last night the Dunroamin was a bit frayed at the edges and basic. Service excellent, really friendly and welcoming. I stay there again.

It was interesting chatting with the land lady in Bonar Bridge. Just outside is a huge building: Carbisdale Castle For a long while it was a youth hostel. What you don’t get from the internet is it was good for the town: rented out for weddings the oldies didn’t fancy bunk beds so stayed in town. I liked it only has a clock face on three sides of the tower. The Duchess of Sutherland it was built for didn’t want a clock face towards the Sutherland estate as she didn’t want to give them the time of day.

Today we followed NCN1 south to Inverness. The three forths were our companions: Dornoch, Cromarty, Beauly. The rolling hills were well manicured with crops and grazing cattle. The fluffy clouds set them off nicely.

Cat’s eyes. When did we start to remove them. On the 2 miles we shared with the A9 traffic they felt a good barrier between us on the edge and the cars, though it wasn’t too busy. A lot quieter though was the old declassified road which tumbled down to a B and C with the opening of the new. Ideal for us to potter along.

No meandering on the Kessock Bridge. Barely time to get our breathe back from climbing back up to access it, the fiery cross wind gave a grippy cycle ride.

All too soon in Inverness and the delightful Glen Mhor. I half expect them to charge us to get the bikes out from their laundry room storage. Though, to be fair, we were allowed to take them to our room, on the second floor up a windy staircase. We declined.

Excellent paella in nearby Tortilla restaurant, and sitting in the sunshine in the street. It’s a life!

1DTM Bettyhill to Bonar Bridge


The breakfast power cut reminded us of previous stays in Bettyhill. It also the into sharp relief the new pressures of cashless. We’d paid the night before: without power the owner didn’t have access to who had eaten what, nor the means to charge them.

Today is straightforward navigating. Follow the river Naver south, through Strathnaver then swap to the River Shin. In between there ate vast sways of the Flow Country: carbon sinks, covering the Altnaharra estate.

The A road through Bettyhill is a bumpy mess. The B road through Strathnaver is smooth: we get into the swing of passing places and most drivers are patient. Adrenaline levels run a little high: as we turned onto this road a sign said “Road Closed”. This turned out to be 20 miles further on. Luckily the workers let cyclists through: explains why the postman wasn’t happy with his 40mile detour. It also means the road is exceptionally quiet. I hope they’ve finished by the time I return cycling up this road in September!

The Crask Inn is in the middle of nowhere. It’s owned by the Church of Scotland: the congregation must be outnumbered by sheep. We’d passed hill side workings on pristine land: wind turbines. This turns out to be a scheme which will benefit the local community to tune if £9million/yr

You can do it!

The Falls of Shin are an amazing demonstration of the power of nature. Salmon one way, water the other. I came here in 1963 as a 5year old: somewhere there’s a photo my Dad took of salmon leaping. Hope he’d be pleased with my effort today.

The wider A road, no longer single track, is a reintroduction to reality.

0DTM Wick to Bettyhill

Setting off

A good start. Grey and dry, windy and on our backs for most of the day. The 52 miles took in a great variety of scenery, most of it peat bog.

What I always find fascinating here is the flagstone fencing. Flagstone were quarried here and shipped across the UK.

The first time we were on these roads they were being resurfaced (EU funded off course). Evidently that hasn’t happened again in the intervening 21 years. There’s little evidence of the fibre optic cable they were laying in 2015: good connectivity to help the communities.


The North Coast 500 is evident through the numerous signs. Though thankfully not today’s traffic. What it means is that even on a Highland Sunday there are coffee stops open. Bins abound That fibre cable and Covid19 means cashless too is the norm: not too long ago the hotels only accepted cash or cheques, avoiding credit card fees.

Michael tells me the Duncan side of the family originated from the Bettyhill area. That probably explains the good availability of public toilets. Bettyhill is quite a dispersed wee village. The hotel has come on a wee bit since we first stayed here. The windows close. Looks like done people haven’t moved from tbe bar in 21 years. Excellent jukebox: The Ozark Mountain Daredevils is on. Just a shame our room is above it…….