The North Coast 500, sort of…


For anyone who enjoys cycling along main roads, the North Coast 500 offers the best available in Britain.  The roads, apart from the A9, are fairly quiet and the scenery is glorious.

Sadly, the A9 features heavily and, at least in my opinion, the A835 between Contin and Garve is dangerous for cycling.  The north coast has been popular with camper vans for several years, some of whom should not be trusted with a moped.  The promotion of the North Coast 500 can only increase the number of rented camper vans in the area.

For those reasons, I decided to try my own version.  My version would avoid main roads when possible, as well as taking in Ardnamurchan and Dunnet Head.

Things did not go well.  My rear mech packed up and had to be replaced at the excellent Heaven Bikes in Ardgay.  The heaviest condensation I have ever seen finished off the autofocus of the kit lens which came with my Canon 450D.  Worst of all, a rapid change from cold, wet conditions to hot, dry terminally tore my dear, old, UV-damaged Akto.  The tin hat was put on things by a headwind battle from Craignure to Ardnamurchan, which trashed my quads.  I was clearly in no fit state for Bealach na Ba so I came home from the Kyle of Lochalsh for a half time rest.


Despite that collection of difficulties, my holiday route has given some notable highlights, including

  • an otter sighting
  • a run in with some Qinetiq types, who had a missile to fire
  • 46 miles of dirt roads, instead of the A9
  • an ascent of Morven from a gorgeous wild pitch
  • a beautiful Sustrans route from Inverness to Ft William
  • gorgeous scenery around Kingairloch
  • the friendly but eccentric campsite at Craignure
  • the appearance of the wonderful Ardnamurchan Bunkhouse at my hour of greatest need

I’ll write the route up properly after completing (presumptious of me!) the second half of the route.  My quads have recovered and the slight bout of Spring knee pain has eased.  It’s time to get back on the road.




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