Dawn arrives late up here in the northern highlands, in the days between Christmas and New Year. But can be so clear, bright and glorious, you just have to make the most of the precious sunlight. A change of wind overnight had driven off the rain clouds. A north east wind always seems to bring a drop in temperature and clear skies in wintertime. Continue reading
Christmas Day 2016. I have never done the legendary Christmas Day Ride, despite the fact it’s been led by good friends ever since Barry Mason started it. Another good friend and legend on two wheels, Bermondsey Bill has kept it going since then, although I think a couple of years saw it led by another friend, Francis Sedgemore. There are now other Christmas Day rides. LFGSS run one, the Waifs and Strays, and there are occasional alternatives that pop up some years. But the one that starts at the Southwark Needle on the south side of London Bridge, with a feeder ride from Greenwich and a lunch stop in Edgeware Rd, is the original and best. Continue reading
The forecast looked about as good as it could possibly be for a ride from London by night to the Suffolk coast. Warm, but not too warm, dry and a touch of a tail wind. So, my final decision, always made on the day, was to ride. Continue reading
I woke up on my second morning on this lovely campsite early. It’s fully light here at this time of year from about 3.30 am and although I curled back up in my sleeping bag when this first sky lightening occurred, the warm sun was beginning to heat the tent. Hard to sleep when that starts. I had planned to head north today, having spent a good bit of time exploring what South Ronaldsay had to offer, on foot and awheel. I took the causeways across from south Ronaldsay on to the Orkney Mainland via Burray, Gills Holm and Lambs Holm. It proved to be fascinating ride including glimpses back into Orkney’s past, with views of the rusting hulks of block ships, still visible as you pass over the causeways, old vessels deliberately wrecked to protect the Royal Navy in Scapa Flow.
I wonder why I have never thought of coming to Orkney before, given how much cycle touring I have done in nearly every other part of Scotland in the past. Perhaps because It’s north and east rather than north and west, the direction I’m usually headed. And also because access to the ferries that bring you over is via the A9, the far northern section of which I am not a fan. It’s narrow and very busy with big trucks. Not the best cycling experience in my opinion.
However, there are options which allow one to avoid it, especially now my daughter is living in Helmsdale, right at the end of a strath that has a handy road (or train) that can take you up to the north coast too. Continue reading
This was my first visit to Coll. The threatened wind and rain had not fully materialised, passing over to the east and the evening proved to be warm enough for me to eat outside, sitting comfortably in my new Helinox chair (worth the money and the wee bit of extra weight) and then head down to the hotel for a drink in the garden. Then up the hill again and in to my sleeping bag.