Picture of Ken and Linda with their tandem

Title: End to End by Tandem. Ken & Linda Hardy

 Day 13: September 22 nd ; Fort William to Beauly

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The heavy overnight rain had eased a little by breakfast time so our short ride into Ft. William was pleasant and we could see the mountains again. Off Beat Bikes in the centre of town did an excellent job of repairing the damage and we were soon on the road again. We kept the mangled granny ring as a souvenir.

Despite the bright start, today was to be one of bright spells interspersed with heavy showers. There was a strong following wind which was welcome and we found ourselves racing the showers up the Great Glen, fortunately managing to stay between showers a lot of the time.

We decided that, instead of following the A87 to Spean Bridge we'd use the tow path of the Caledonian Canal, at least as far as Gairlochy - about 10 miles. This was a good choice, although it was rather rough in places and we were a little concerned about how the bike was coping with its four loaded panniers. We enquired at Gairlochy about the state of the track as it continued along side Loch Lochy but were told that it was rougher than the section we'd ridden so we decided to head back to the A87. At this time of year the main road isn't so busy so we felt fine about riding it but it had been very pleasant to ride a section off road.

The Great Glen is long. It was good riding, the road constantly going up and down on long, gentle gradients, and the views, when you can see them through the trees, are excellent. On one section the road descends right to the side of Loch Lochy where there are a number of lay-bys and parking areas. In one of these there was a van selling hot chocolate and bacon butties. We just had to stop and indulge, and it was very welcome since the weather was quite cold and wet (giving us soggy feet for most of the day) and the warmth coming from the van was wonderful.

We seemed to spend most of the day just riding the Glen, stopping for lunch at the side of Loch Ness, sheltering from the heavy rain showers under the trees at the side of the loch. Unfortunately, the Loch Ness Monster managed to evade the camera by swimming out of shot just as the button was pressed.

We finally left the Glen at Drumnadrochit where we took a left hand turn to take us over the tops to Beauly, thus bypassing Inverness. Now this was some climb! We'd tackled some steep ones on this trip but when we saw the sign at the bottom we immediately dismounted and pushed - 1:7 for mile! And it steepened to 1:6 higher up, hard work just to push the laden tandem up that.

Once on top, however, it was fairly easy riding until we eventually descended into Beauly. This is a quiet, pleasant village where we found an excellent B&B for the night, although there are only a few to choose from. Not much selection of eating places either so we had chicken and chips from the local chippy and ate them sitting on a bench by the village square.

Day 13 - Mileage: Day 68; Cumulative 832