Day 13

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Origin:        Alness
Destination:   Tongue
Waypoints:     Bonar Bridge, Lairg, Crask Inn, Altnaharra
Lunch:         bought at Co-op in Alness, and consumed in the Crask Inn car park
Cake:          (1) post-lunch cake and coffee at Crask Inn;
               (2) in the garden of the Ben Loyal Hotel, Tongue
Dinner:        The Tongue Hotel, Tongue
Accommodation: Varich View B&B, Tongue
Google Maps
Distance:      66.1mi
Ascent:        2359ft by Google

From Alness we took the back road—Ardross Road to its friends—and headed out and up, past the golf club and out into the forested higher ground. It's pretty scenic.

We were also joined by our favourite pack of friendly MAMILs, not seen for some days. I had a chat with the leader of the pack as we climbed up towards one of the more spectacular viewpoints. I felt pretty good for keeping up, but after some minutes of friendly chatting he excused himself and zoomed off.

After a whooshing downhill to rejoin the main-ish B-road, we reached Ardgay and breezily took what was certainly a wrong turn towards Culrain. It wasn't wrong-wrong, as it's a “cycle route” but it's also a cycle route where you definitely can't cycle, once you reach the Invershin Viaduct.

Once we'd manhandled our bikes over the trestle—as a small compensation, good views were available—we rejoined the road from Bonar Bridge which is the one we should have taken at Ardgay. I've left our original route in only as a diversion.

From Invershin, we took the quiet side of the glen to Lairg, then pressed onwards, now on single-track A-road through some stark and beautiful scenery. At the bridge over the Tirry is the Crask Inn, a charming pub staffed by equally charming couple. Here we arrived just as the rain started, and re-happened upon the regrouped MAMILs who were sheltering within. After sneaking our lunch in a rainy car park, we joined them inside for refreshments. They were drinking whisky, but we opted for coffee and cake.

Back outside, the rain more-or-less stopped, which the workmen renovating the neighbouring building knew meant only one thing: midges! They had their full midge-net gear on, but we simply relied on not standing still for long... off we went.

Our next waypoint was Altnaharra, the coldest place in the UK! There's not that much to see, except a hotel and a hamlet strung around a slightly bendy road. More spectacular was the run towards Tongue alongside Loch Loyal... a breathtaking spot. While the scenery on this single-track A-road was never less than dramatic, the actual climbing for the final couple of hours had been fairly gradual, with the occasional bit of puffing over a bump. This was paid off in a lump sum, with a whooshing downhill into Tongue where our lodging awaited. We had plenty of time, including for early cake (no scones) at one of the hostelries, followed later on by a nice meal and a spectacular sunset, of which I only photographed the tail end when the colours had gone funny.

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Content updated at Thu 19 Mar 15:45:00 GMT 2020.
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