Travellers' tales: Costa del Scotland
"Perfect cycling weather in northern Scotland?" - Not a phrase you often hear, but it was true last May.
Tour leader Martin Jamieson had stitched together a 350-mile route through Sutherland, Caithness, and Orkney. Unsurprisingly, it was hilly. Surprisingly, it was sunny. We arrived in Inverness in the rain and cold, but then the skies cleared.
Day one involved cycling to Ullapool via the unexpectedly quiet A835. By day two, as we headed to Lochinever, the A835 had dwindled to a singletrack road with passing places.
Day three was our biggest day, with 53 miles and 6,000 feet of climbing. The scenery and blue skies remained postcard perfect. One of the best descents came the next morning on the way to Durness.
That afternoon we cycled around Loch Eriboll in sunshine.
We cycled along the north coast and caught the ferry to Orkney, where we were treated to yet more sunny weather.
We visited Neolithic sites on the Orkney’s Mainland, and enjoyed picnics and ice cream – outdoors! – on beaches and cliffs.
We returned to Aberdeen on an overnight Northlink ferry. It was raining when we disembarked!