TwoLegsTwoWheels

A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad

May
10

On top of Britain

So, we’d almost made it - nearly 1000km from Shrewsbury and only one peak left before we could say we’d done the Three Peaks, all the way, all under our own power. It was a perfect day for it, warm and sunny. My knee, which had been a bit sore the previous day, felt fine. We breakfasted and set off, crossing over the beck away from the road. The path leaves the valley floor pretty quickly and climbs steeply for almost the entire route, and we were above the treeline after only a few minutes. It was such a nice day that it seemed like the whole of Scotland had had the same idea, and the path was so full of people that we were constantly passing or waiting for others. While it rather took away the feeling of being in a wilderness it certanily made navigation easy (although it’s not a hard route to navigate in general). We pushed on at a fairly fast pace and we were soon at Lochan Meall an t-Suide, a small loch at the bellach between the mountain of the same name and Ben Nevis itself.
From here, the path gets steeper, and the landscape becomes much more barren, with hardly anything growing after the first few sections of path. The way narrows here too, making going quite slow as we waited for the stream of people to pass the smallest sections. It was a very different feel to the emptieness of Scafell!
After climbing up the series of switchbacks, we arrived at the summit plateau, at 1221m the highest peak in Britain. After nine days of cycling, averaging a bit over 100km a day, and over 3000m of climbing on foot, we’d made it.
We sat down for lunch at the top of the Eastern face, looking out over the 2000ft drop. It was a lovely clear day, and we could see to the Great Glen and beyond; below us, a pair of climbers were working their way up the cliff face.
Somewhat ironically, this was perhaps the most sociable time of the whole trip, and we chatted to quite a few groups of people as we were having our lunch - including another group of cyclists with a similar idea to us, except on their way to Snowdon.
We could only savour the moment at the summit for so long, and then it was back down into the valley, to showers, and down to Fort William for a well-earned meal.

Mar
11

To Glen Nevis, and (nearly) the end

Day 8
Cycling distance: 125 km

day8map.jpg I woke up late this morning to soft sunlight streaming into the tent, with shimmering reflections from the loch to the East filtered by the intervening trees. I had a bit of time to kill before Polly and Simon would arrive. I had breakfast and wandered - on foot - into the village, to the shop I’d passed the night before.campsite.JPG I stocked up on food and sent a few postcards, then walked back to the campsite. The bright morning sun had driven the midges away and I could already feel the heat in the air. An impulse drew me down to the shingle beach. I knew I had plenty of time on my hands before the other two arrived since I’d been up and breakfasted well before they could have been (times are all relative, and my ‘late’ lie in was till about 7 - definitely late when you’re camping in Scotland in summer - while they’d spent the night in a bed and breakfast). [Read More…]

Feb
28

By the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

Day 7
Cycling distance: approx. 120 km

day7map.pngI woke fairly late, but feeling surprisingly well rested having slept so close to the main railway line - I don’t remember being woken at all during the night. Maybe trains stop running overnight, but I thought freight trains carried on; maybe I’m wrong, or maybe I was just that tired! I followed what was now the rapid routine of packing my tent and getting a quick bite to eat - not really breakfast, that comes later on, after an hour or so’s riding. I was back on the road heading north through rolling hills and soft moorland, different to both the lowland plains and the higher Scottish mountains proper. By the time I was starting to think about eating again the countryside was giving way to towns and the outskirts of Glasgow. [Read More…]

Feb
14

Heading North

Apologies for the rather long delay in adding the rest of the 3 peaks trip; however, it’s now winter, so I’m riding less, which means I have more time to update this blog…

Day 6
Cycling distance: approx. 170 km

day6route.pngSo, two peaks and about half the trip’s cycling done - halfway through! It ought to be a cause for celebration… however instead, this morning we had a conference about the path to take. We are now at least half a day behind schedule, and the pressures of working life mean that we don’t have the option of extending the trip to compensate. Simon and Polly are very keen to cut our losses and head to Ben Nevis by the shortest route - which means along busy A roads. On the other hand, I’m adamant that I enjoy the cycling part of the trip - afterall, that’s the real purpose of it - and would rather spend longer cycling each day to take the scenic routes, even if that means not climbing Ben Nevis in the end. Eventually, we decide to take different routes: Polly and Simon will head straight for Fort William, while I’ll spend longer going through the Lakes and following the national cycle network route from there on. (Of course, pride won’t let me get there any later than they do anyway if I can possibly help it!)
[Read More…]