Thursday, June 08, 2006

Day 15 - Dingwall

Martin says tonight that he has had one of the best days of the whole journey. In between setting off this morning at 6.30am and putting up his tent around 8.30pm, he has travelled 74.62 miles to arrive at a campsite at Dingwall, not far from Ross County Football Club (sorry about the F word). He started to talk about Ray Stewart being the manager for the club (maybe not the current manager), but I told him to concentrate on journey details to save his battery.

He had a really nice ride to Aviemore this morning, which was a little further than he has estimated last night. Incidentally, last night he mentioned that there was a castle on a hill nearby, in the grounds of which he would have set up camp had it not still been so light, because of passers-by seeing him. Later on when it was dark, he looked out of his tent and the whole castle was lit up with floodlights to be seen for miles around!

This morning at 5am, as he popped his head outside the tent to go for a tiddle, expecting to be the only person about, he was greeted with a ‘good morning’ from a birdwatcher a few feet away! The chap from Derby was en route to the Shetland Isles, sleeping in his car overnight in the car park of the adjacent RSPB nature reserve.
The midges homed in on Martin as soon as he surfaced, giving him ‘huge’ bites on his face. He took his tent down in record time, and set off at such a pace that he said he managed to out cycle them.

He met three cyclists whilst travelling towards Tomatin; Dan and his wife Jen from Oregon USA and Christina from Glasgow. They were very welcoming and friendly, good company up to Inverness. They all stopped by Loch Moy for lunch, Martin being fed by them as they had plenty of food. Once a scrounger… This afternoon they passed Clava Cairns – an ancient burial mound, and the site of the Battle of Culloden. The field was covered in mounds – graves of the 1,200 Jacobite clansmen who were killed in one hour by Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops.

Inverness was a busy city. Route finding is always more challenging in the cities, but Martin appreciated the company of his fellow cyclists, sharing the challenge and being more of a force to be acknowledged. He felt quite lonely after they had gone their separate ways. Immediately after Inverness he crossed the Moray Firth on the Kessock suspension bridge, which was as impressive as the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge over the Thames. Then on across the Black Isle, where he met Bill Kinsey doing his gardening, and another bridge over the Cromarty Firth. He said that the A9 was as busy as the M25! Funny that – I thought there would be nobody about that far up, just sheep.

Martin has worn the same shirt and same socks for over two weeks now. He says they don’t smell, but even if the temperature is below freezing on Monday I think the car windows will be open. His Gaz cylinder is almost empty, hoping to find another tomorrow. His friend Roger had a spare at Orton (day 10), but Martin thought his would last. He has been sleeping well, feels fit powering up the hills, has a tan (although he can tan by candlelight in December) and a beard – that’s coming off on Monday night, and is enjoying being on a bike. Maybe if he is enjoying it so much he could cycle home, by which time the World Cup might be over.

For those who have joined the blog along the way, I thought it would be good to remind everyone that Martin is raising much needed money for the Pride of Cumbria Air Ambulance. You can view info about this brilliant, voluntarily funded service at If you’ve enjoyed reading about Martin’s progress and would like to make a small donation, please make cheques payable to “Pride of Cumbria” and send to either ℅ T. Carter, 12 Milligans Chase, Galleywood, Chelmsford, Essex. CM2 8QD (Martin’s brother who will forward them), or hang on until he returns home and I’ll post our address. If you care to include your name, address and postcode, the charity can claim 28% more for your donation. Cheers!


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