Kirkhill to Cromarty loop by Lee Craigie
Lee Craigie is part of The Adventure Syndicate, a Cycling UK affiliated group. It is a collective of female endurance cyclists whose aim is to increase levels of self-belief and confidence in others (especially in women and girls) by telling inspiring stories, creating an encouraging community and delivering enabling workshops and training. Here's one of her favourite road routes in the Highlands.
Cromarty doesn’t get loads of visitors. It’s a tiny charming old fishing town right at the tip of the Black Isle with an interesting past due to its associations with Scottish writer Hugh Millar and now home to an alternative arty community. But the little limewashed village sits at then end of a dead end road and can only be negotiated by foot ferry from Nigg (seasonal) or a return trip back towards Inverness to gain trunk roads travelling north and south.
I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been caught out riding to Cromarty from Kirkhill and back. When times are tough and I just can’t find the motivation to get out on my bike, I think scones. I love a scone and the ones at Souter Café in Cromarty are the best I know so I mount my stead to complete the four hour round trip with a scone in the middle as my reward.
I tend to head out on the A832, switching to the smaller cycle marked roads at Munlochy and merging onto the main road once it’s quietened down beyond Rosemarkie leaving my return route to the B9163, the road on the northern most part of the Black Isle.
Every time I ride east to Cromarty I think to myself how glad I am to be making this trip, how easy the ride feels now I’ve got going and I have been known to get a little carried away with how strong and fit I feel. I have a coffee and a scone in Cromarty and then I turn around to ride home again. And the wind stops me dead. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. There is an evil prevailing wind that always blows you to Cromarty, lulling you into a false sense of fitness and security before slapping you in the face when you try to return. I’ve said some rude words into that wind in the past as I’ve battled my way home through Jemimaville and Culbokie. Weirdly, I never remember how grim the ride home can be and I blindly sail off again and again focused on my scone mission. Must be worth it.