Today we descend from the highlands to lower grounds; the shores of Loch Ness. We leave Tain at a fast pace on Sustrans cycle route 1. It is kind to us, as it has been for the last 3 days, leading us along often deserted scenic roads which skirt around the imposing hills rather than over them. The aches and niggles we had been accumulating over the past few days, for the first time begin to subside and we have the strange sensation that rather than getting sorer and more tired as we go, we are actually becoming stronger.
As we fly through Dingwall towards Loch Ness we pass close to Inverness and Aldercy Manning remarks that it was an 8 hour train ride from there to our starting point, which feels welcomely satisfying. We stop for a quick chat with an elderly gentleman wearing a woollen téte de la course jersey who regales us with stories of his youth when he rode a penny farthing.
Of course, our hostel on the North shore of Loch Ness is one of the most unforgiving roads we have seen so far, which appears to be carved into the side of a mountain. This is compounded further by our hostel, which opens at 5pm being of no use to us when arrive triumphantly at 1430 to a distinct lack of fanfare. We manage to find a secluded beach and scare off our sole accompanying beach traveller and while away the afternoon with a quick dip, which might very well double as an ice bath and a lie down.
After a quick shower we enquiry about dinner with our hapless hostel manager. We order macaroni and cheese, which he doesn’t have. We order chilli con carne, which he doesn’t have. In the end, we settle on a lentil soup and just about convince him to throw in some slices of accompanying bread. “Sorry boys, it’s shit. I know – I’m a veggie too.” He returns later with some rice too which makes for a fairly stodgy but welcome dinner. He then settles down to watch the Tour De France highlights with us on our iPhone, providing expert commentary along the way – “Shit, that’s fast.”