So - here we go - my first ever big cycling and camping trip! Day 1 is a slight cheat as it also includes the previous evening and night on the Caledonian Sleeper to Inverness from London! I finished work and whizzed home to check everything was in order and then loaded up the bike and rode over to Euston. Went via St Pancras for a tasty burger for dinner and then back to Euston to get on the sleeper train. Was a first trip on the sleeper for me, so I was a little nervous about it all - but it was all great. I loaded the bike up and found my cabin. I was sharing with a guy called Rab who'd been down to London for a job interview for the Weights and Measures bit of the Civil Service. He was heading home to Lossiemouth. He was a nice guy and we chatted until about midnight before going to sleep.
You get awoken with a knock at the door and a nice cup of tea and a fairly average continental breakfast. Rolled into Inverness - weather was looking pretty good indeed, so did not hang around (I have been to Inverness before) and I was on the road within minutes of getting off the train. The A9 out of Inverness is fairly hairy - but there's a good cycle route to Tore. It's then follow the A835 all the way to Ullapool. It's a pretty long slog over to Ullapool - so I did not hang around too much. There's some great stuff to see, including the Black Water river and bridge near Garve and the rather amazing gorge and Falls of Measoch at Braemore.
The Black Water River did live up to it's name! I am used to seeing the brown peaty water near where I grew up in the Peak District - but this WAS so black. It must be amazing after a storm or in spring when the snow melts.
The Falls Of Measach are well worth a visit. The gorge was far deeper than I expected. I have to say I am not great with heights, so the bridge and viewing platform were a little nerve wracking for me. But it is incredible! The falls are pretty high and very dramatic. There looked to be some great walks around, but, with the bike and everything it was a little tricky.
The gorge also (finally) marked the point where I started to go back down after climbing (gently) for many miles. With that, I coasted into Ullapool and found the campsite. The campsite there is fantastic - if you're lucky you get a pitch (as I did) right on the water. I really liked Ullapool generally - great feel about it. I managed to avoid the temptation of the amazing smelling fish and chip shop and cooked for myself (to be honest, throughout the whole trip, I did not eat out much in the evenings).
It was lovely to watch the ferry come in, listen to the waves and watch the sun go down - I felt very positive for the trip. That was until about 10:30 when a group of 3 tents arrived and decided that they needed to set up camp by the water and made so much noise doing so! It was very odd - then set their tents up around mine - it really was quite an invasion of privacy. Oh well - I slept well after they shut up!
Read about day 2 here!