DAY 16

Today's mileage: 69
LEJOG mileage to date: 877

Map view:

Google Earth view:

And the ride to date:

Today's mileage was going to be about 63, but Erica was delayed getting to the campsite and we didn't discover this until we got there, so by the time we'd cycled back up the hill (of course!) to a restaurant, and then back to the campsite, it ended up as 69.

There was one long climb, but then there was the lovely run downhill into Inverness, and just a few bumps after that.

Erica is not much more a morning person than me, so her method of seeing what the campsite looked like in daylight was an efficient one.

It looked ok.

It was a lovely day, so we thought we'd go for a bike ride.

Um, left, I think.

There are really only so many photos of the A9 even I will want to look at later, but one has to show progress being made ...

Our 20-mile lunch-stop would be at Aviemore, so we turned off the A9 onto the road into the town.

Aviemore has a cute railway station, but is otherwise a bit of a tourist dive.

We had lunch here, and I can highly recommend this hotel - as a place to avoid.

They had a breakfast menu from 10-12, and I fancied scrambled eggs on toast from that. We were seated at about ten to twelve, and I started signalling the waitress at about five to. She eventually ambled over, and when I placed my order looked at her watch and announced at it was one minute past twelve and breakfast was finished.

The barman was equally unfriendly when I asked to fill my water-bag, initially pointing me to the gents, which only had hot water. He then filled a jug for me in a grumpy fashion.

It did at least have the essentials.

And I was able to calibrate my map and GPS against their placemats.

There were two routes out of Inverness, one on the mainland and one across the Black Isle, using the Cromerty-Nigg ferry. There wasn't much in it mileage-wise, but I fancied the ferry journey, so Erica was tasked with finding out whether it was running.

Then back onto the A9, and the first sign for Wick, the last major place below John O'Groats.

The long climb was again very gradual.

To Slochd Summit:

There is, incidentally, a marked cycle route alongside - what I assume is the old A9. This is what it looks like:

We didn't take it.

After the summit was the lovely long downhill run into Inverness.

About 500 metres of which was on lovely smooth new tarmac ...

... and the other four miles was on the usual British standard road surface, best tackled in one of these.

The vibration limited to our downhill speed to 40mph; a great pity, as I think with a smooth surface that could easily have been a new speed record for me (which currently stands at 54mph down the far side of Ditchling Beacon).

At the bottom, we had a lunch-stop. I had whitebait (which appears pink because we were sat beneath the red canopy shown in the top pic).

On the approach to the Kessock bridge, was this warning sign:

I don't think it was, just at that moment.

I usually avoid cycle lanes, but bridges are an exception for the photo opps.

Erica had confirmed that the Cromarty-Nigg ferry was running the next day, making Rosemarkie our new destination for the day. We turned right onto the Black Isle.

Erica was running late, so we cycled from the campsite back up to the village to find a pub. We found this one, which turned out to be a restaurant too.

Erica joined us when she arrived.

The menu was impressive, the food excellent, the wine-list good, the single malts list ... well, let's just say there were 170 different ones! Unfortunately they'd had staffing problems, so the service was like something out of a Scottish Fawlty Towers - but it made for an amusing evening.

I let the owner know, and he thanked us for the feedback and presented us with a bottle of Mexican liquer which he said put most brandy to shame. We tucked it away for sampling later.

We had a comical moment of our own afterwards. There were two campsites and the possibility of wild camping, so Donald locked the trikes to a picnic table while we did a recce in the motorhome. On returning, there was a panic when he couldn't find the keys to the lock. He searched his bags, his pockets, the footwells of the van ... everywhere we could think of. Eventually, he found them: right where he had left them ...

The campsite was ok, if you like that kind of thing.

I went for a walk to the beach; it took three seconds.

And so ended day 16.

Tomorrow's goal was Helmsdale, which would put us within a day's ride of John O'Groats!

Onto day 17 ...