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Thursday 19 July 2018
11:30 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 1: Home to London Sleeper Train
Warm and dry
4 miles
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
This year’s epic tour of Scotland began with the 11:50 train from Newton Abbot to London via Bath. We were travelling to Scotland on the overnight sleeper from London and had booked an early train up because we had been told the bikes would be leaving three hours earlier than the sleeper, on a special courier. They subsequently found room for the bikes on the sleeper train, so now we had some time on our hands to enjoy some of the London sights.

Both Jude and Dillan prefer countryside and wildlife to the bustle of city life, so we rode to Regent’s Park and enjoyed drinks and cakes outside the Boathouse Café: Dillan enjoyed a quarter-slice a watermelon and Jude’s Lavender Cake was apparently nicer than it sounds! The weather was quite warm so we stumped up the £21 required for a half hour pedal boat session on the lake - Michael let the boys do all the pedalling though.

Next stop was the tiny Pizza Hut in Baker Street where Jude naughtily sent a photo to his Mum of Dillan with two pizzas and suggested he was having both of them to himself – he refused to retract it, saying his Mum would know it was a joke, but I’m not at all sure she did.

A short ride of a mile and a half brought us to Euston station for around 7pm, and after a wait of about an hour and a half we were finally allowed to board the sleeper train. Sadly the introduction of new trains had been delayed until the autumn so we had the same old cramped berths that we had in 2010, but we had everything we needed and it was a bit of an adventure.

Everyone got a good night’s sleep except Michael, who was woken up at 4am to move the bikes. The very long train from London splits into three sections at Edinburgh, each going to a different destination, and the guard’s van for our Fort William section could not be taken all the way from London. So Michael volunteered to get up and move all three bikes singlehandedly from one end of the train to the other so that the others didn’t have to get up.
Friday 20 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 2: Fort William Sleepter Train to Fort William B&B
Damp start, warm and dry later
8 miles
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Complimentary breakfast on the sleeper train these days consists only of a hot or cold drink - the croissant is now a chargeable extra. We got some great views of Rannoch Moor from our bunk beds, but the spells of rain did not look too promising for our planned assault of Ben Nevis later.

The light rain was still in evidence as we disembarked at Fort William at 10am. As we still hadn’t had any proper breakfast, the café at Nevis Sport seemed liked a great idea for a first port of call. It turned out to be excellent, on the upper floor of a modern pyramid-shaped glass building, with large portions of food and drink available for much less than we usually pay in Devon. Dillan had such a large plate of beans on toast for £2.50 that he couldn’t eat it all!

The jolly proprietor of the Nevis Bakery supplied us with a range of hot pizzas, pasties and pies for our Ben Nevis adventure and assured us we would like them so much we would be back for more tomorrow morning. Fully stocked with provisions we rode the few miles up to Glen Nevis youth hostel, which this year had been fully booked when we were looking for accommodation. It looked very different from the last time we visited in 2010, so we called in to chat with the warden. The hostel had just completed a £2 million refurbishment that included new cladding outside and the replacement of large dingy dorms with smaller, modern, light and airy rooms and a fabulous kitchen and reception. The warden kindly gave us a full tour – it really felt like a brand new hostel and we were quite disappointed that we had been unable to stay there.

We left our bikes in the bike shed and set off at 12:50 over the footbridge opposite the hostel that leads to the easy path up the mountain. There was still some light rain around and the top half of the mountain was shrouded in thick cloud so we didn’t think we’d be going too far up. By the time we arrived at the lake the mist was so thick that we couldn’t see any sign of it even though it was only a hundred metres away. We continued on a little way, expecting to turn back within thirty minutes, but then, as Michael filmed, the cloud lifted and the lake gradually became visible. Suddenly the summit seemed a possibility, and both lads were very keen, so on we pressed.

We were amused to see that virtually everyone we passed on the way up was kitted out with expensive boots, Gore-Tex coats, backpacks and walking poles while we were just wearing our cycling gear. We imagined them calling in to Nevis Sport, saying they wanted to climb the easy path up the highest mountain in the UK and being sold equipment more appropriate for an expedition up Mount Everest. Having said that, Michael would have put on his walking shoes rather than his cycling trainers if he had realised we were going to the top, but we certainly didn’t need walking poles.

The cloud was still lifting and conditions were remarkably hot for the time of year, so we were wearing just shorts and t-shirts as we neared the top, and our pace was slower in an attempt to stay cool. There was still snow lying in places on the mountain despite the warm weather. We finally arrived 3¾ hours after we set out from the hostel, a great achievement for everyone and only the second time in our club’s history that weather conditions allowed us to go all the way. The summit itself was up in the clouds but we could see everything we needed to see, including the refuge for people stuck on the mountain in bad weather and the triangulation marker on the peak, which of course Dillan had to stand on.

The return journey took 2¾ hours. We thought we had left at about the latest time to be sure of getting back before dark, but we were passing people going up even as we neared the bottom. We were told later that it never gets totally dark in the summer, but even so it’s probably not a great idea to be walking back down at 1am.

As we neared the bottom everyone had sore leg muscles but Michael was paying the price for wearing soft trainers - every step was painful. It was a great relief when we finally reached the hostel. Our walk had been 4.3 miles each way with a total climb of 1314m. Congratulations to everyone on a great achievement.

Michael wanted a coffee and a cake at the hostel but they only sold coffee and the other cafes we had seen earlier were closed. We ended up getting some food from Tesco and then going to the Pierhead Takeaway in Fort William for hot pizza, which we ate inside. There was then a 1.4 mile ride to Alltonside Guest House where we were very, very grateful for hot showers and a good night’s sleep.
Saturday 21 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 3: Fort William to Morar B&B
45 miles (▲ 560m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Sunday 22 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 4: Mallaig to Plockton B&B
34 miles (▲ 389m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Monday 23 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 5: Plockton to Applecross YH
37 miles (▲ 1191m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Tuesday 24 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 6: Applecross to Torridon YH
36 miles (▲ 639m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Wednesday 25 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 7: Torridon to Gairloch B&B
32 miles (▲ 347m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Thursday 26 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 8: Gairloch to Ullapool YH
Hot and sunny
39 miles (▲ 876m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Friday 27 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 9: Ullapool to Achmelvich YH
Hot and sunny
34 miles (▲ 810m)
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
Saturday 28 July 2018
08:00 - 23:00
Tour: Scotland
Day 10: Achmelvich to Bonar Bridge B&B
3 Participants: Dillan Edwards, Michael Jones, Jude Norris
Report to follow.
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