Tuesday 18th May. 
Tain to Lairg 28.5 miles

Today was to be a steady day just taking us to the edge of the wild country. We had an excellent breakfast and chatted to the Landlady and her friend for a while before we cycled into Tain for cash points and postcards. 

Writing Postcards

All written a couple of photos and then we cycled steadily out of town back onto route, we passed the Glenmorange distillery looking out over the Firth it was overcast and the wind was in our faces ah well, at least the road was flat.

The route has a short section of approx 2 miles on the A9 itself. The Bishop Bullet needed to release and he sprinted on well least until the next roundabout because he wasn’t sure of the route then? Nothing changes.

Leaving Tain

Leaving the A9

It was a very pretty and steady ride along the side of the firth very pretty with whitewashed cottages; we crossed into Sutherland along side the Firth and stopped for Photos of the County signs a way marker and a tradition now on our rides. Colin had to clean the Ross and Cromarty signpost so it was legible for a photo.

On to Ardgay a small village at the Top of the Firth and the Lady Easter Café which had much to watch as we sipped our tea. A man repairing and replacing a cash machine, the security guards arriving to fill the cash machine the ancient old dog watching everyone and everything, the old man who we met on the road after we left the café driving his tractor and trailer flat out after we had seen him in the café drinking beer and whisky chases.

Ardgay Village with the Giant white stone a memorial now to Big Willie but at one time this stone was the Market stone for the villages and it was dragged around from village to village we decide we woudnt have wanted that job with our bikes.

A steady ride out of Ardgay through pleasant countryside only disturbed by the old gent we’d seen in the café flying past with his  tractor trailer travelling flat out.

Down to Culrain station and Carbisdale castle, Now a youth Hostel, our fun was just beginning we followed a small off road section down to the River and the See-through footbridge to Cross the Kyle of Sutherland. To me who is scared of heights it appeared a long way down and a long way across a metal rickety bridge that had a metal mesh for a walkway you could see right through it to the bottom.

We had to carry our bikes as it was not designed yet again for multidaymen carrying panniers.

But looking straight ahead and with Graeme and Colin helping we crossed the Kyle. Only mishap was Colin knocked his pump off  and just caught it as it was disappearing through the mesh to disappear into the water below.

Phew! across the dreaded bridge safley

Graeme passed comment that it was a good job a train had not come rattling over the bridge when we were on it because we would never have got Mal to release his grip on the handrail.

Then bridge conqured we were  back on the road to Loch Shin and the falls of Shin. As we arrived at the falls of Shin visitor centre, two young girls were stood outside asking Tourist questions for a project. They were FAY and KAY from Aberdeen University (I Remembered) Fay was also coming to work in York so we had a chat and a bit of banter.

We got a surprise when we walked in the gift shop nothing about the Area or The Falls it was Harrods, with Harods Teddy Bears in Kilts …Apparently Al Fayed owns the Estate land in that area, needless to say we did not make a purchase, we strolled down to the falls to take in the ambience and a couple of photos.

Falls of Shins

Enjoy while its free!

So after a little more chat with FAY and KAY who had guarded our bikes, we cycled the last few downhill miles to Lairg a pretty village on Loch Shin. On the way into Lairg we called at the Countryside visitor Centre a very helpful lady Welsh this time, Still makes a change from English, and she did Stamp our maps so we bought the legendary way marker badge; I fasten them on my UK map baqck home in my Garage as reminders of where we have cycled.

Arriving at Lairg

Into Lairg and to the Ambleside Guest House. Very good, very nice lady who stored our bikes and then made us a pot of tea served with chocolate biscuits. It was a wet miserable afternoon so we chilled out resting in the Residents lounge watching a Jethro Video (does that count as one of the funniest moments of the ride?)

Evening came and we wandered around the corner to the only place in Town, The Nip Inn it was full of Tourists, Dutch and German Motorcyclists and a strange man who was latching on and trying to talk to everyone, we were to meet him later. Northern Scotland is full of  German and Dutch tourists even the sheep warning signs on the side of the road we discovered are written in German.

The beer was ok and the Pub was very busy, the meals were OK too, the staff  were an Australian and a New Zealander.

After a few beers and a couple of whiskies it was back to the digs, we didn’t need much rocking in our very comfortable rooms spacious too.

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