Setting off from Fort William we were quickly rewarded with a mouthful of abuse from a passing motorist for not using the cycle path. Truth be told we hadn't seen even seen it, but even once on it we discovered it ran out a mere 3 miles outside of town. On a day involving 100 miles in the saddle, 3 miles tucked out of the way of passing traffic is totally insignificant, but there will always be those who will never comprehend such things. I think he'd rather they spent the money on something else.
Our first stop was for a group photo at the Commando Memorial, recalling the formation of this august band of fighting men, who it says have traditionally conducted their training in the local area. Considering most of us haven't been wearing underpants on the bike for a week, the subject seemed highly appropriate. The 360 degree views were a treat, and the weather was just about perfect as we headed on up to the rather oddly named Loch Lochy. It's a loch that's just like a loch. Next was Loch Oich, and finally Loch Ness. We stopped in Drumnadrochit for a jacket potato, but gave the Monster Exhibition a miss, even though it has been awarded 5 stars by the Scottish Tourist Board. I mean, how good can an exhibition about a fictitious monster that no-one has ever seen actually be?
Reaching the end of the loch at the appropriately named Lochend we were soon into Inverness. We'll be seeing it again on Saturday night, and Lyndon is really looking forward to it. He's even going to borrow a shirt. From what I saw it looks like a very pleasant place to go for a wander. Fighting our way out through the afternoon traffic we were soon fighting our way along the A9, a dual carriageway with gentle gradients and no shortage of people in a hurry, not least us. By this time it was becoming obvious that rain was on the way.
It was forecast to arrive at 4 o'clock, and so it was that just after 4:15 the first drops started to fall. Even so it was going to take some time to get organised. The group stopped again in a café just alongside the Cromarty Firth, which currently houses some modestly-sized oil platforms. After this there was no stopping anyone as the road angled NE and straight downwind towards our hotel at Tain. Our only night *not* in a Premier Inn. Obviously a couple of notches up in quality since the room even came with a Kiwi fruit. Now there's posh.
Mileage - 99.5