Monday 1 August 2011
To a land of Hope
This past Saturday dawned bright and clear with a promise of warm sunshine so I didn't need to be asked twice to throw the roadie and the camping kit into the van and head off for a trip into the north west corner.
By mid-day Chris and I were on our way from Ardgay in the blancmangemobile up to Altnaharra, across the moors by Allnabad and on to the shores of Loch Hope. We quickly set up camp in a grassy old quarry beside the road with terrific views down to the loch and the magnificence of Ben Hope standing over us then set off on the bikes.
It was great to get the legs turning and we rode along together on the swooping single-track road that leads to the coast road which is pretty much an epic roller-coaster of joy. The hills took us gleefully down to Loch Eriboll and around its shores to the bridge at Polla and north again through Laid, Portnancon and out to the north coast proper at Rispond. Here we dallied a while enjoying the glorious view across the beautiful sandy beach that screamed out to us for an adventure by kayak, one last hill just for the buzz then back the way we'd come.
Along Loch Eriboll you can see the hills to come across the water, so near and yet so far but big whichever way you look at them. However for every steep grinding up there's an adrenaline pumping down and soon enough we arrived back to our camp with weary legs, hungry bellies but joy in our hearts and minds.
Mercifully we'd stocked up on Smidge at Heaven-bikes because the evening air was still and out came the midges and threatened to ruin the party but not to be beaten we just went for another ride this time back south under the face of Ben Hope. We returned to camp and lit a little fire to ward of the wildlife and sat back drinking coffee and making plans.
And trust me we've got plans....