Kingussie to Dunkeld. 63 miles
263 miles completed – 753 to go.
As Pete said when we eventually arrived at Dunkeld, “well at least we know our waterproofs work!” – even that I wasn’t sure about but ….
We left Kingussie in good weather and set off along NCR 1 to Dalwhinnie at 13 miles where we fell for my favourite sign ‘cafe open’ and nipped in for a hot choc. While Pete popped across the road to see what Dalwhinnie Distillery had to offer I had a chat with Joan and Collin. A lovely couple more used to running, they had cycled up from Perth as their first stop on a circular tour – we had a good laugh about what was essential equipment for this kind of touring. We also had a chat about the importance of the right tyres, the significance of which we were about to find out.
Almost as soon as we left Dalwhinnie, the cycle track surface deteriorated and for the next 25 miles as we climbed to and over the Drumockter Summit and into Perth and Kinross we were riding on a very flinty track, I thought, more suited to mountain biking. Cyclists have no choice but to use this since the alternative is to do battle with the actual very fast A9. Anyway striking views as we went over the top and then started down the other side towards Pitlochry with the road surface improving all the way and the added pleasure of some beautiful orchids.
We were overtaken by Kyle and Travis around Blair Castle – they were travelling with their camping gear. The torrential rain and near black skies which descended on us from there on gave Pete just the excuse he needed to keep up with them ply them with questions about their bikes, trip and equipment. Poor people – they responded cheerfully and spluttered through the rain that they were doing a round trip from Dunfermline. By Pitlochry we were drenched and I insisted we should stop for a sandwich – unsurprisingly they said they would carry on!
Having warmed up a bit in Cafe Calluna (thank you!) and picked up some bits at Davidsons (thank you both with help with the weather forecast) we set off again – this time in rain that can only be described as biblical. It would not have mattered hugely except that Pete’s Garmin then insisted we should join the A9 and we had to try to get out our paper maps to find our way (mental note – laminated maps).
All forgiven though as we arrived in the very beautiful Dunkeld in bright sunshine to a very warm welcome from Hilary and a really lovely room at the Merryburn Hotel.
A very quick shower and Anthony, Pete’s dad, collected us for a great supper at the Tay Bank – much reminiscing about the funnier times with Pete and his two sisters. Then a lovely stroll round the town (famous for its ‘big trees’) to see the cathedral and a walk along the bank of the Tay. We heard a little bit of the history of Dunkeld much of which was rebuilt by the Duke of Atholl in the 18th century as a model town. So a soggy day with a lovely ending.