Escaping from work about an hour earlier than normal, we headed North on the Friday evening and had a smooth drive up to Applecross. Arriving about 9.30 in the evening we were thankfully lucky enough to get a tent spot in the very busy campsite. A quick tent set up and it was off to the bar for a cooling pint of cider and relaxation to break in the weekend gently.
The following morning it was an early start to try and get on the road so we could at least cycle for a short period in relatively cool air, despite our 8.30 start this did not last long and the heat soon started to kick in.
It was our plan to cycle the Applecross peninsula loop which includes the Bealach Na Ba. This pass is one of the toughest cycle routes in the UK. We started out from the campsite and headed round towards Shieldaig which would mean that the daunting 6 mile climb would be at the end of our 45 mile cycle.
The 25 miles round to Shieldaig were extremely undulating in parts, but the roads were quiet and the sky was blue and there was no wind. Wonderful conditions, although the air temp was rising and rising. Reaching our first stop in Shieldaig we contemplated our options whilst having a cold drink and an ice-cream. Do we turn around and go back rather than face the very long and hot climb over the pass?
It was decided that going back the same way, which would be extremely hilly and a fraction longer was just not an option. So cycling an 8 mile flattish stretch and grinding with all our might till we reached the final few miles of downhill was the only way to go.
I knew that there was no way that I would make it the whole way to the top, as I just do not have the leg power and Dolly simply does not have enough granny gears, but we were determined to see how far we could get.
We eventually got off to walk with about 2 miles of the hill still to go. I just did not have the fitness, but the heat was incredible. It was like cycling in an oven, there was just no air at all and even if we managed to get a gentle breeze it was warm air, almost unheard of in Scotland.
I am glad that I have now tried the Bealach na ba, and may well go back and try again at some point, but I will make sure that I do more hill training and go hopefully at a time when it is not a heatwave.
The benefits of a very hard but fantastic day out is the indulgence in some amazing food and a few cold pints of cider which we had at the Applecross Inn. A perfect end to an incredible day.
Today we took our time coming back home and stopped off at Laggan, Wolftrax for a short but fun mountain bike ride. Although it was another scorcher and we had very tired legs it was a lovely way to break up the journey and make the most of the final few hours of the weekend.
Dolly taking in the sites.
A wee island at Shieldaig.
Maserati and sunset.
Aah that's better.
Life is good.
All photos by Caroline Harvey.