a spin through Sutherland

Seems a bit decadent to haul a Land Rover along on a bike ride, but Simon's got a good excuse for owning one, and it only got stuck once in the week, so it provided its share of entertainment value.


Well this was the fine group of boys I joined on Sunday night after a pleasant ride through the dark from Inverness to Drumnadrochit. From left to right: Dave, Sean, and Simon.

Our mission? To cycle to Cape Wrath in a day or two.

Two nights we camped wild. Here Sean wonders whether the ferns grow high enough to enable a call from nature.

Dinner is cooked on stoves. The small wood fire's main function is to vapourise fern smoke and drive off the midges.

Fern smoke is also moderately toxic to humans. Here, Douglas has been briefly overcome by its effects.

We also stayed on official sites. The campsite on top of the dunes at Durness is an excellent location, and the sea breezes keep the midges away.

Lunchtime team photo. From left to right: Simon, Sean, Douglas, Dave

Sutherland is exceptionally beautiful. The mountains are not so steep which gives space for the lochs to reflect the sky. Unbroken sunshine is not uncommon in early September.

In the evenings we consumed a lot of food and beer and plotted the next day's route. One thing that a Land Rover has over a bike is that it makes a very handy portable windbreak, though I wouldn't like to pedal it uphill if we ran out of diesel.

The roads were generally smooth and completely empty. Ideal for the motor and cycles alike. We took it in turn to drive, but Douglas managed to skive out of it all week with many lame excuses.

We had a lot of "luxury" gear in the motor that we couldn't have carried on bikes. Here Simon and Sean contemplate lugging it 200 metres horizontally and vertically down to the dunes to camp. That's when you wish you could get it all into a couple of panniers each.

Loch Shin was exceptionally beautiful. There's a little pebbly beach down there which formed a perfect location for contemplating the sunset.

And it didn't look so dusty in the morning either.

Dave demos his off road technique. Teenage cycle club experience made him handy enough on the road as well.

You can definitely have too much of a good thing though. That's a path! For walking on! I thought this was a bike ride!

Food and raceday pink stuff was dispensed from the back of the 'drover at regular intervals, which was cool.

The whole caboodle. Accommodation in the tent was in two halves: Simon and Dave on the left as you step in the tent door, Douglas and Sean on the right. No one snored too loudly so it was fairly restful at night.

Sean's a handy man to have around if you fancy a barbie. It seems almost a genetic trait in Australians to produce chargrilled delights competently.

If you're really keen you can read my written account of the trip.

Images Copyright David Churchill 2002 All rights reserved

Words Copyright Douglas Carnall 2002 All rights reserved

dougie@carnall.org