Sunday 26th August 2012 – Day 14

Ardmair (just outside of Ullapool) – Gairloch

  • 59.75 miles
  • 4309 feet climbed
  • 2747 calories burnt

Last nights campsite was a beautiful spot at the side of Loch Broom just off the A835, about three miles from Ullapool. As we had slept ‘on the rough’, i.e. parked in layby’s for the past three nights we thought we would treat ourselves. Unfortunately, as it was so peaceful, any noise on the site carried and there were a couple of late night talkers who kept me up so I didn’t get the best nights sleep.

Over breakfast we discussed the day ahead, as we had such a tough climbing day yesterday and because we were still ahead of our mileage plan, we thought we would do less miles to get us back on track and more importantly help my Dad’s legs recover. With this in mind, we planned to meet the motorhome for lunch in Badcaul and then for the night in Gairloch.

Unfortunately, the minute we got out of the campsite back on the A835, we had to climb straight away. We were familiar with the climb because we had gone up half of it last night before Mum and Harry had realised that we had overshot the site! It’s always tough starting the day on a climb as the legs haven’t had a chance to warm up, but again – as I always think, where there’s an up, there’s a down and we  were rewarded with a long swoop down the north shore of Loch Broom, past Ullapool. Mum and Harry told us later they were in their element in Ullapool as they stumbled upon a massive Tesco’s so they stocked up the cupboards and filled the Motorhome again!

We kept on the A835 heading south, the views as per usual were amazing. Once we reached the top of most climbs there would be a blind summit and then when you peered over the top you would see more lochs and massive mountain ranges! There were a couple of issues along the A835 with badly driven cars/motorhomes/vans/etc, but we managed, I don’t think they realise just how close they get.

The right turn to Gairloch popped up, the A832, so we stopped for a quick banana and pit stop in a bus shelter before we took on another big climb. As we were climbing, Dad decided to start singing Genesis, so that got me moving quicker! We also were passed by Mum and Harry who shouted they’d managed to find wine so that also got me more motivated! Half way up the first climb on the A832 we saw flashing lights, I automatically assumed there’d been a crash, but no – how wrong could I be. It was in fact a herd of cows that were being led back up the hill by a police escort!

After the cow incident, the road kept climbing – so I kept churning away and low and behold and we turned the corner there was another impressive mountain range waiting for us. We hit the top and straight away had a long swooping descent to the bottom of Little Loch Broom, another sea loch. The views were spectacular and the weather again was amazing, blue skies with whisps of cloud.

Half way up Little Loch Broom was Badcaul, our lunch stop.  Harry was on form and had made eggs and chorizo sandwiches (Mum had stuck her finger in an egg so we had to use them up apparently – we weren’t complaining!). We’d done about 36 miles, so we had about 23 miles left so we allowed ourselves a bit of time to eat lunch.

Setting off again after lunch, we had just our ‘arms’ on, instead of the jackets we wore in the morning, the sun was out to stay. We climbed out of the remainder of Little Loch Broom and followed the coast for a while. Whilst on the coast, we had a massive climb out of Gruinard Bay, this was where we caught a glimpse of Gruinard Island the site where the British Military experimented with Anthrax in 1942!

Once past the coast we headed south down the east side of Loch Ewe, where we were accompanied by a fellow cyclists, he and Dad chatted for a while. It’s always lovely meeting other cyclists, not only do they give you a good history of the area, it helps whittle away the miles! He told us about the Nato refuelling jetty for warships and submarines – it was absolutely huge!

The remaining miles flew past, more climbing and rolling downhill. I had a tweet from someone before reaching Gairloch about minding out for a cattlegrid, thank god he sent it because I was hurtling down the hill! Managed to spot it though, just in time.

Mum and Harry found a lovely campsite, with a lovely warden, Gairloch Caravan Park; 1 Mihol Road, IV21 2BX – I definitely recommend a visit!

As you can see from the picture, Mum and Harry also found a lovely bar, Myrtle Bank hotel – where Dad and I had a much needed pint!

Dinner was a feast; venison burgers, sweet potato mash, onions and asparagus – followed by honeycomb icecream, we were being spoilt by Harry! After dinner, I went to get the wifi code from the warden, she was looking out to sea with her binoculars and was in the middle of hunting for someone lost at sea. This is the second time on our trip this has happened, we can’t quite believe it. When we went to bed the helicopters were still out at sea searching.

4 thoughts on “Sunday 26th August 2012 – Day 14

  1. Hi there, Andy V here. It was a pleasure to join both of you for part of yesterday’s run from Gruinard to Aultbea. I headed back home to Gairloch after we parted thinking about all the cycling adventures I would wish to do with my kids, once they are a bit older.
    It is a shame I did not see you in the bar of the Myrtle Bank Hotel last night – I live just next door. I was at home watching R100 heli from Stornoway searching the coastline for the last missing adult, after recovering 2 dead and 1 critical child. Sobering moment for all parents.
    As for tips for the Bealach na Ba, I suggest making sure your brakes are working well as you will need them for the descent. It is a grind, and you will never have enough gears, but the climb is worth it for the views (even in the clag) and the sense of achievement.
    Best of luck for the rest of the route.

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