Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesAndy's Scottish Expedition

The Scottish North East Coast

By Andy Gray

Day 12: Dunbeath to Chanonry Point near Inverness 153 miles

Food was very good at the Bay Owl Inn & Restaurant just down the road from the campsite last night.

2 carved wooden owls at the Bay Owl Inn
A stuffed owl at the Bay Owl restaurant
The Bay Owl Inn & Restaurant

Cold night as the wind died away. The rain kept up with drizzle this morning meant I had to pack away in rain for the first time this trip. Also needed the waterproofs until lunchtime.

Headed down the A9 stopping in Helmsdale for a cuppa & bacon roll at the River Cafe. Googled outdoor shops to buy a new hat and found one just 200 metres away that had recently opened. Found a replacement that I hope likes travelling with me!

A stone arched bridge with 2 spans in the town of Helmsdale East scotland
Helmsdale Bridge from the River Cafe

Headed back onto the A9 and decided to pop into Dunrobin Castle to see if I could get a photo or two. You can drive through the car park, park near the castle & exit road and take some photos without having to pay!

Dunrobin castle has spires and many rooms, more like a mansion than a fortress
The clock is atop a square tower with blue face and golden fingers
A stout square short tower atop a mound with small cannons on each cornerDunrobin Castle

Back on the A9 as far as the A839 which goes through Rogart (NC500 regulars stay in the train carriages here but they close at the end of September). This road follows the railway line up the valley to Lairg but is definitely not straight and a brilliant biking road.

Big fat hills, nestled in the valley is are the old train carriages and signal box of Rogart
Sleeperzzz, Rogart

Lairg is quite a big town compared to those I've been through recently and is located at the dam end of Loch Shin. Below the dam is a small lake with what looked like a duck house on it. This is The Wee House.

A small, doll size house on a tiny island in the middle of a lock, the wee house
The Wee House, Lairg
A wizard is carved into the side of a tree trunk while other trunks are mid carving

Next I followed the river Shin downstream to The Falls of Shin. If you've ever seen a wildlife documentary where salmon are filmed jumping up a waterfall, it was probably filmed here. Even though it is very late in the season a few stragglers are still running up the falls. When I arrived, there were two locals with seats and giant telephoto lenses trying to get photos. I stood there for half an hour recording and saw 5 or 6 fish, most very small but the first was a decent sized fish. All failed to get up the falls.

The river runs through a narrow cut of rocks creating the falls surrounded by trees
The Falls Of Shin
The river has widened out into the loch
A few miles down the road from the falls it gets a lot wider.

A few miles down the road the river joins the Kyle of Sutherland and becomes Dornoch Firth. I followed the valley down the A949 which was another nice fast biking road. I ended up at Dornoch Beach after riding across Royal Dornoch Golf Course! I hasten to add it was a legal right of way.

A simple gravel road runs by the golf course and club house
I seem to be about to ride across a royal golf course.

Then it was back to the A9 across Dornoch Firth and out onto the next peninsula to the Tarbat Ness lighthouse. I’d been able to see this as I'd been riding down the coast most of the day. It was seriously windy out here which worries me for camping tonight.

A white and red lighthouse standing onto of a rocky promontory and the North sea
Tarbat Ness lighthouse.

Back to the A9 heading for Inverness and across the Cromarty Firth. Before hitting Inverness I headed out to the Black Isles and Fortrose. The reason I'd chosen this place is that Chanonry Point is where you can see Dolphins from the shore, unluckily I'd missed high tide and the next one is 4am. Also there are two campsites on either side of the point, the theory being that depending on the weather I could choose the most sheltered. In practise the sheltered one was closed!

Continuing the golf theme of today, I have ended up at Fortrose & Rosemarkle Golf Club for dinner. This is the 5th oldest golf club. Non members are supposed to pay a £1 temporary membership fee to use the bar but I've been let off. The barmaid has charged everyone else who has come in.

Looking out from the gold club is a smart green of the course
Fortrose & Rosemarkie Golf Club for dinner.

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Llangollen Andy starts his trip to Scotland... by going to Wales! It is a long way from London Village to The Highlands though, give the man a break.
Friends And Finally Scotland Day 2 and 3 of Andy's Scottish expedition - and he's only just reached the borders. He's having way too much fun and should be focused on heading North.
Bad Weather, Brilliant Roads Andy's first proper ride into Scotland is proving to be a cracker even if the weather is dire.
Exploring Arran and The Mull Of Kintyre There's wildlife and scenery aplenty for Andy as he explores Arran and The Kintyre Peninsula. "Mixed" weather is keeping him on his toes though.
Easy Onto Mull Andy is taking in the splendid West Coast of Scotland at a sensible pace. From the Kintyre Peninsula to the Isle Of Mull there's a lot to take in.
Walking On Iona Andy is using Shank's Pony to get himself around the small island of Iona. Thing is the island isn't quite as small as Andy's feet had hoped for.
Mulling Around To The Mainland When Tobermory is a major town you know you've been somewhere remote. Andy is making his way up the West Coast of Scotland now.
Bealach na Bà Ain't So Bad Andy is making his excuses for a late start today, but it's all self-inflicted. It's time to be overwhelmed by the not really scary Applecross road.
The Wonder Of The West Coast Andy is up on the West Coast of The Scottish Highlands now, and it shows with his achingly beautiful pictures.
The Wonder Of Even More West Coast Andy is exploring the remote and lonesome shores of the North West of Scotland. Geology, beauty and single track, all in another day's ride in The Highlands.
Out Of The Good Stuff, Into The Weather After The splendour of The Highlands and West Coast of Scotland Andy is now at the top of the country. Is there much to report?
The Scottish North East Coast Andy after reaching the tip of the UK is now meandering his way south along the east coast. Being back in civilisation means proper food in solid buildings.
No Nessie And Wet Cairngorms Andy looks at Loch Ness and The Cairngorms, well, when the weather allows at least.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Thanks Andy.
Ah, pictures of wee bonny Scotland are enough to warm your cockles, if not your sleeping bag.
05/05/2020 01:32:21 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Lovely pics.

Helmsdale..... I was up that way many years ago. It was of course the haunt of Barbara Cartland the (in)famous author of bodice-ripping romances. I think I've mentioned on these hallowed pages before the visit I made to a very odd restaurant in the town as well as a weird "waxworks" display about the Highland Clearances.

Ah, here it is! Scroll down to get the gory details.....
05/05/2020 05:15:05 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I re-read those gory details. Aaahhh strangely sweet memories. Can I go back there please? I think I've had enough of being home now thanks.
06/05/2020 07:27:28 UTC

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