Day 7


Big Country


Andy Lewis toasting his grapes


Mighty Mouse


We've no idea who this guy is.


Andy Thomas catches Ian in mid flow

Day 7 was definitely the epic mountain stage, and I write it sat in the Premier Inn in Fort William, just an Olympic stone's throw from Ben Nevis itself. En route we have been dwarfed by peak after peak, marking out Glen Coe like enormous fenceposts on either side. It is a natural fortress, for those hardy enough to live there, and none were hardier than the MacDonalds who chose to make a home there. Sadly barely a soul lives there today, just an endless procession of fleeting visitors, quite a few of them cyclists, but mostly very much larger. In fact huge most of the time. It seems to be full of lorries and coaches.

We escaped the outskirts of Glasgow dead on 9:15, and were quickly skirting Loch Lomond. The forecast was showers, some of them heavy, but they seemed very nearly joined up to me, especially so as we headed upwards into mountain country. It's hard to believe this is July as leg warmers, arm warmers, head warmers, and any other kind of warmer was whipped out to try and ward off the chill. Stopping in Tarbet for elevenses (first time we've had those!) we quickly found ourselves engulfed by stationary queues of traffic on the not so bonny banks of Loch Lomond (sorry, I *had* to write that).

Realising that most of the vehicles had their engines switched off, we guessed they had been there a while, so we squeezed and shimmied our way past to the very front, past caravans and lorries and coaches interlocked like a jigsaw, and found the police directing traffic round the remains of a van. We were waved straight past, and thereafter had about 5 or 10 miles with no traffic behind us at all. Sad someone has to end up in hospital, but we really appreciated the space, especially considering the state of the roads. There's something about the way Scottish tarmac weathers, because it is a nightmare on the behind.

Next stop was Tyndrum in a place that did fish and chips on paper plates, and had a wood burning stove in a marquee-like extension. I had my first Scotch Pie, a delicacy that tastes exactly like a pie. Drying all our kit around the stove, we watched as the showers become real rain. Really good timing yet again. We stayed there until the sun suddenly came out, put on everything we had, and then faced up to the bad news. It was 3pm and still 48 miles to go. Worse still, Glen Coe angles due West, straight into the headwind we have been neatly avoiding all week. Never mind, we had to hit it sometime, and at least it gave us a chance to practice our chain-gang.

Mileage - 98 miles

Primes: Bill Gannon - Fort William (legs like iron all of a sudden)

Steepest Hill: that ludicrously steep road in Fort William that Dai Smith directed us up, on the grounds it was the shortest route to the Premier Inn. That stupid Garmin of his is going to get chucked in the loch!