My grumpy hostess managed to say good morning to me, and even warmed up slightly during breakfast. But I can't say I was sorry to leave that particular B&B place.
Left about 8.30 with the sun breaking through the clouds and made good time on the first leg of the trip - 33 miles to Fort Augustus where I was due to meet a retired lady, Ann Goldsmith, for lunch at 12. Some splendid views of the Ben Nevis range. Slowly ascending road to Spean Bridge, then some climbing over to Loch Lochy which was the highlight of the day, with the weather at its best. A tranquil lake with wonderful rugged mountains on the far side. I cycled for miles along the loch shore.
I visited one of the locks at the end of Loch Locky, where the boats using the Caledonian Canal pass. Then onward along Loch Oich, and finally into Fort Augustus bang on 12.
Ann treated me to a delicious lunch, and an hour later I was on my way for the 20 mile leg along Loch Ness to Drumnadrochit. The weather was cloudy but rain-free along this stretch of road which goes up and down but usually well above Loch Ness. Rather a monotonous stretch, because trees conceal the view of the loch for most of the way.
After Drumnadrochit I left Loch Ness and tackled the anticipated steep climb up to over 850 ft, on the Beauly road (A833). This 15% gradient lasting almost a mile had me walking the whole way - probably the longest too-steep-to-ride section I have encountered on this whole journey. Simultaneously there was a heavy shower which lasted for about 15 minutes. I gambled that it would pass, and did not put on my Goretex waterproofs. Thereafter it was mainly dry, just the odd spots of rain and short showers.
From the top here it was a mainly gentle run down to the rather unremarkable flat stretch of road between Beauly and Muir of Ord, before the countryside became prettier again for the last few miles into Dingwall. I found a B&B place just after 6.
So, just two days left to John O'Groats and I am getting quite excited - as well as glad that this journey is nearing its end. Although I am feeling OK physically, it is quite a push to do a full day's riding every day without any break. I am looking forward to tomorrow's 80 miles up through the central Highlands to Bettyhill.
Today: 77 miles, ave speed 10.3 mph.