I was cursing my decision not to take a rest day in Ullapool. After nine miles and 1,000 feet of climbing I envied the wisdom of those taking a lazy, late breakfast, enjoying a good book or taking a boat trip. Then I glanced and saw the mountains, blue sky and brilliant clouds reflected in the still waters of Loch Cùl Dromannan. I gasped in wonder, and slowed the bike to a stop to drink in the vista and take the photo above.
It got better. I was soon following Peak Tours guide Simon down a heavenly lane, a tarmac thread along the lochs leading to the coast. After the slog up from Ullapool, we were now coasting along this gently undulating route. Before long we came to the morning’s brew stop overlooking the islands on Loch Lurgainn. I smiled as two recumbent trikes came past as I turned in for my morning coffee. It would be fun to lean back on the comfortable seat of a trike and drink in the view.
Soon I was cycling along another lake, Loch Osgaig, and saw this stream leading to the sea a short walk away at Garvie Bay. It was hard to maintain my cycling momentum as every wheel turn seemed to bring new sights that compelled me to stop and take photos.
At last I pressed on, heading uphill to the coast before the gentle descent to our lunch stop at Altandhu. As I reached the summit I was rewarded with this wonderful view of the Summer Isles in the distance. How glad I was that I had forsaken the rest day. Others and guide Wendy were already at the lunch venue, Am Fuaran (The Well) bar, sitting in the sun-kissed terrace overlooking the sea. We were told that the kitchen didn’t open for half an hour – but I didn’t protest at the chance to soak up the sun’s rays and chat. I even took off my leg warmers – and didn’t wear them for the rest of the tour.
After our lazy lunch, we headed back along our paradise road. My heart sang as I made my way down this extraordinary lane, with the dramatic peaks in the distance.
We had a few decent climbs to conquer before enjoying the swoop down to Ullapool. We arrived as the school day was ending.
Later, I watched as the CalMac ferry depart to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. That evening, I wias enjoying an excellent dinner at Ceilidh Place with Ian when one of his school friends sat down at the next table. He and his partner had arrived on that very ferry from Stornoway after cycling the Hebridean Way from Vatersay. That tour has been on my bucket list since our stay on Barra a year ago. One day…
I’ve enjoyed my time at Ullapool and would love to return.
The day’s stats
50 miles, 3,409 feet climbing, 4 hrs cycling, 12.1 mph average speed