Monday, 20 September 2010

Day 5 : Lairg to Inverness : 67 miles, overcast heavy drizzle cold

A largely gentile downhill trek today but the temperature certainly dropped a fair bit as I could see my breath in the early afternoon. 
The early part of my route followed along the Shin and railway line; comes from Inverness to Lairg and onwards to Thurso. 
Footpath and cyle access alongside Oykell Viaduct at Invershin (1867 by the Sutherland Railway Company) over Kyle of Sutherland - the slippery metal steps at the far end were not much fun carrying a 37kg loaded bicycle up!
Having having joined and followed the southern edge of Dornoch Firth I came to Tain - the A9(T) was fairly busy at this point but there was an alternative route over the top, called the Sturie (B9176) and just below peak of Beinn Tharsuinn, which apparently involves very steep climbs but the views are good from the top. Given that the cloud level was low I decided to give that a miss but may try it if I come back this way. 
Tain, which is near to the Glenmorangie Distillery, viewed towards Tollbooth which was built in 1730.
Tain is Scotland's oldest royal burgh; granted charter status in 1066 and burgh status in 1457. It felt to me somewhat hemmed in by its A9 bypass but I expect people generally are glad that traffic no longer passes through the burgh centre.
There is then normally an option of a summer route  that uses the Nigg-Cromarty ferry, the normal summer service in each direction is every 15 minutes. - unfortunately due to there being no ferry at present this was not an option for me. My personal thanks to Mik Malster (an amazingly hard-core cycle adventurer in the UK and overseas and frequenter of the Goddard Arms in Clyffe Pypard) who I met at Tongue SYHA for letting me know that there ferry was probably not operating and to check first! 
A new Cromarty Queen ferry is being delivered this month but alas too late for me to use - it was  originally expected to in use May 2010. However, the concept of a turntable to enable four cars to go in and out the same is quite neat. The new vessel replaces the Cromarty Rose which only took 2 cars. 

Innovative small ferry for Cromarty Firth

Southampton Marine Services Ltd (SMS) has completed ‘Cromarty Queen’, a new small car and passenger ferry for Scotland’s Cromarty Ferry Company Ltd
I then chose to travel along the northern shore of the Cromarty Firth via Invergordon - a relatively quiet route with a good view of the Firth.
The Isleburn  facility of Global Energy Group who recently completed the gravity base structure and system assembly for currently the world largely tidal flow turbine, the AK1000™. The Atlantis Resources Corporation's AK1000™ was successfully installed on the seabed in August 2010. The nacelle was fabricated by Soil Marine Dynamics in Newcastle.
As I approached Inverness there were more dedicated traffic rides. These must be great for commuters and in fact I passed by several fairly contented looking people using them in the by now heavy drizzle.
Kessock Bridge across the Beauly Firth at Inverness (the football stadium lies behind bridge and the cycle route follows water around to right into the heart of Inverness). Started to 1976 the bridge was completed in 1982. The completion of this bridge and also those providing links across the Cromarty and Dornoch have transformed road transport in the Highlands. It has also proved a key factor in the growth of the city of Inverness. (WIkipedia).
Personally, I found Inverness a very pleasant place to cycle into and it clearly has done a great deal to improve the main thoroughfares to be pedestrian friendly.

1 comment:

  1. Not the world's most elegant structure :-( Hopefully it was at least cheap to build!