Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 42--Not Necessarily True

I read somewhere, when I was planning my Scotland itinerary, that the Scots tended to build roads around the mountains, not over them. Not true.

I left just a bit before 8:00 this morning. It was overcast, and a little chilly. I made good time and had done 22 miles by 10:00, and Snacktime. I was in Spittlefield. On my way to Spittlefield, I came to a closed road. They were repaving sections. I was able to squeak through, thus having the road all to myself for a few miles.

In Spittlefield, I noticed this nice row of home with nice gardens.

I continued on my way. A bit later, I saw another touring cyclist coming toward me. Since I wasn't on a specific route, this was a pleasant surprise. He stopped, and I stopped, and we had a little chat. His name was Mike. He is from the UK, and had been out for 4 weeks. However, for the last 5 days he had been holed up because he was sick--bad cold. This was his first day back on the road. I told him to take it easy.

Not long after leaving Mike, I came into Dunkeld. I wish I didn't have so far to go, because I would have liked to go to the Beatrix Potter Exhibition.
In hindsight, I should have gone anyway.

In Dunkeld, I crossed the River Tay. It comes from Loch Tay where I was headed.

I continued to Amulree. It was a nothing town, but there was a "shorter" road just after that would take me to Kenmore, and the top (or bottom) end of Loch Tay (I would still have to ride to the other end). Not only was it shorter in distance, but it was not a main road, therefore, little traffic.

I sat on the steps of a closed gift shop in Amulree and ate some lunch. The wind was really strong (had been a headwind for the last few miles). Then, I rode on to find the road. On the map, it looked like it would go through a valley to start with, but then had some potential for climbing. There were many "Beware of Grouse" signs. I did see two, but what there really should have been was "Beware of Rabbits" signs. I saw countless dead rabbits on the road (and not a single dead Grouse).

The road was barely one lane wide with lots of passing places.

It did go along the valley by Glen Quaich, but then...after crossing this bridge, the climb began.

I was pumping along in Super Granny Gear, but it was getting steeper and steeper.

Finally, I couldn't ride anymore, and actually had to get off and push! You know it's gotta be steep if I am walking! I went higher and higher. Here's some photos.

Snow in them thar hills!
Still walking.
Finally I could ride again. The wind was mostly a tailwind, and very very strong. The Da Brim was working like a sail, which was helpful. Although the "road" was little wider than a bike path, there were a number of cars. Those Passing Places came in handy. At the top, and on my way down, I passed a couple of hikers. There are several trails up in these Highlands. There were also a lot of sheep. When I was walking, I had to watch my step for fear of stepping in the many piles of sheep poo.

The descent was as steep as the climb had been on the other side. I dropped right into Kenmore. The road from Amulree to Kenmore had been 10 miles. 

I had a choice of going along the lake along the left side, or the main road on the right side. I saw that the left side was Bike Route 7, and it said 16 miles to Killin (the other end of the lake, and my destination for the day). Okay, left side it is!

First I stopped at a touristy place to get something to drink. A man came up to me and asked how I liked coming down. He had passed me going up (while I was walking, no doubt). I told him it was fine, but a little windy. 

This place had this hut-like place. People were going inside to tour it. It was called a Scottish Crannoch (or maybe Crannog). Might have had something to do with fishing. I didn't stick around as I still had another 16 miles to go.

At first I thought the road would go along the Loch. Not so much. In fact, it climbed way above Loch Tay.
On the way to much higher above the lake.

Then the road would come down, and I would think, great, now I'll be back along the lake. Wrong again! The road never did go along the lake. At times I could see the road on the other side. It also did not go along the lakeside. The left side was a better choice (even though it was a narrow road, and again, several cars) because there was a pretty strong headwind, but the left side was mostly sheltered by the trees, so not much headwind to bother me.

I went up and down for the entire 16 miles. When I looked down the way toward Killin, it looked like it was probably raining there. Soon, I started feeling raindrops. I stopped and donned my rain gear. It rained the rest of the way to Killin, and has continued to rain. 

The place I am at (the first caravan park I came to), doesn't really have a spot for tents, but they are generous enough to let me stay in the Visitor Parking area (a grassy place as far as possible from the shower/restrooms building (they call it a "block"). For this I paid £6.60. It's not much, and if it wasn't raining, I'd be thrilled at the cheap price. However, I would get soaked just walking to the shower/restroom block! 

I did a good job setting up my tent underneath the rainfly. Everything is under the vestibules (except poor Betsy). I'm hoping the rain stops so I can at least cook my dinner. If not, it's a Buttery with PB and Honey!

Total miles today: 64.4 (not as many as I thought it would be)

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