Monday, September 25, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Couldn't resist mentioning the recently opened memorial to Flodden.
More at the 1513 Club's website, which presumably they'll update when they're sober http://www.flodden1513club.com/.
The monument features a claymore, with the blade pointing to the battlefield and the handle pointing out the direction the Earl of Home and his men took, if you believe such stuff.
Meantime, here's a pic of Rob and Duncan with Frank in the foreground.
History, or dodgy nationalist shrine? We'll let you be the judge. But they've fought wars in the Balkans over less.
Here's the report from the Beeb: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/5335632.stm
Was your first sore head courtesy of Coldstream Brewery or Double Diamond?
Here are pictures from our good friends at the RCAHMS (http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/search.html) of the brewery in the Market Square, 1974.
Looks like ready for demolition or just knackered after supplying beer during Civic Week. Or maybe a bus-load of Berwickers had visited?
Any knowledge of it? Good beer or crap? Coming from Coldstream, was it mild or bitter?
Fort Augustus to Inverness
The other two nutters decided to take the military road over the Corrieyairrick Pass from Fort Augustus to Laggan then on to Aviemore http://www.corrieyairack.org/.
Having seen enough of British imperialism on the Tuesday, I took the southerly route along Loch Ness, which in time we hope to make a signed Sustrans route. This involves a long hard climb out of Fort Augustus and then quiet roads through Whitebridge, Foyers and Dores then to Inverness.
A good mornings work saw me in Inverness much earlier than planned. Hoping to take the 14.40 train to Aviemore I was refused because two bikes were booked for that train. I had to then book my bike on the 16.40, which probably meant some other poor sod was bumped from that train. Utterly ridiculous. Outdoors capital of Europe? Nonesense when a train that can take six bikes is restricted to two.
Got to Aviemore and reviewed Sustrans routes around the town. I thought Aviemore was a lot better than its reputation. We stayed at the Rowan Tree Hotel, very good http://www.rowantreehotel.com/. Perhaps the best hotel we stopped at.
So, that was it, last day and a good tour. Took the train next day to Edinburgh, met a Sustrans supporter on the train who had just finished Glasgow-Inverness, our route 7. He gave it top marks, which was a relief.
Fort William to Fort Augustus
Formed an orderly queue outside local bike shop http://www.offbeatbikes.co.uk/ for new brake blocks, the grit and stones on the military road the day before having shredded our brakes. Incredulous staff thought we were bonkers to have done that route in those conditions and on ordinary bikes. But, there you go, a bike is a bike when you're pushing it over mountains.
An easy day's ride, mostly along the Great Glen Way http://www.greatglenway.com/, which mixes tracks alongside the Caledonian Canal with forest roads.
Stopped the night at a hotel in Fort Augustus, which was OK.
Monday, September 18, 2006
Kentallan to Fort William
Left Kentallan in the pouring rain, which fell unabated all day.
We surveyed the fomrer rail line right up to its end at the former station at Ballachulish, now completely gone except for the remains of the platform. We crossed the road bridge on foot so strong was the rain and wind that it was risky to try and ride over.
Rather than continuing on the crappy main road to Fort William, which is the direct though dire route, we headed toward Kinlochleven.
The plan was to take the military road* from Kinlochleven to Fort William, which is now a section of the West Highland Way.
At this point the rain was really heavy and relentless so we stopped for a lunch break at the cafe of the Kinlochleven Seafood Centre. Have to report that this was the best place we stopped at on the tour. We were made very welcome even though we were soaking and leaving puddles all over the floor. This should not surprise too many, particularly when Lochaber boasts that it is the 'Outdoor capital of Scotland', but it was disappointing just how many places did not welcome outdoors people, had no drying rooms and nowhere to store bikes.
So, leaving the sanctuary of the cafe with its great food we stumbled our way onwards to Fort William. More like gorge walking with a bike, see pics.
The result was a really hard day. Absolutely knackered when we got to the Alexandra Hotel in Fort William, another place with no drying room and the heating turned off. Huge carry-on to get the radiators activated in our rooms so that we could dry some clothes.
* A Caufield rather than a Wade for engineering nerds.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Day One: Oban-Kentallan
The plan was for me to arrive in Oban at 11.45 and catch up with the other two, who by that time would have met all the local cooncil worthies and would be between Oban and Connel. By 12, the train was nowhere near Oban, so I jumped off at Connel, cycled over the bridge at the Falls of Lora, see pic, and caught up with the other two on the road to Benderloch, see pic.
We then followed the route of the former Oban-Ballachulish railway (closed 1962 courtesy of Dr Beeching) with a view toward re-opening it as a dedicated walking and cycling path and a much more pleasant and less suicidal option than the A828.
That night we stopped at the Hollytree Hotel, Kentallan. http://www.hollytreehotel.co.uk/ Very good food. They like their rules though. Nice scenery; see pic above.
Not necessarily a band event, but I recently completed a tour by bike from Oban to Aviemore, via Kentallan, Ballachulisch, Fort William, For Augustus, Inverness and Aviemore. This being what I laughingly refer to as 'work' more at www.sustrans.org.uk.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1896
"You're not bringing that manky thing in my Hotel and wipe your feet as you enter."
- Highland Hotel Proprietoress, 2006