Once again, it’s time to give a bit more space in this blog to those of you who prefer to watch telly than read books.
In true travel bloggers’ tradition I carried a video camera on my recent cycle ride of the North Coast 500, around the north-west coast of Scotland, to showcase my award-winning film-making skills when I got back. That’s the theory, and if they ever have an award for best film that looks like it’s been shot by a drunk at a party, then I will surely enter.
Here are four short videos covering the full length of the 516-mile (830km) route. In these videos my shaky footage and inane banter from behind the camera has been supplemented by some of Edita’s footage, which chiefly consists of an exhausted me swearing at the camera.
If you’re at all upset by coarse language then these short films may not be for you. On the other hand, if you like to spend your Saturday nights watching physical game shows that humiliate contestants, then they could be right up your street.
If you prefer to watch them all in sequence, then I have created a complete YouTube playlist for them, which is about 21-minutes long. If you’ve not done it yet and have a bit more time on your hands, don’t forget to read my trip report.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the videos.
Part 1: Inverness to Applecross
This six-minute video covers the first two days of the cycle ride across country from Inverness on the east coast to Applecross on the west.
There was a spot of rain on the first day, and you will see that we are wearing some rather fetching ponchos. We were quite tired by the end of the day, mainly because of a bad decision to leave the main road and venture along some rough forest trails on our loaded touring bikes.
The second day was also tough, but that wasn’t our fault. We had to cross the infamous Bealach na Bastard, the high pass over to Applecross. Watching the video is perhaps more enjoyable than doing it, as you’re able to appreciate the stunning scenery of rugged mountains and sea lochs, in the way I couldn’t as I tried to pedal up the damn thing.
The one consolation was whizzing down the other side. If you listen closely enough, you may just be able to hear me going ‘weeeeeeeeee!’ as I cycle past.
Part 2: Applecross to Ullapool
This four-minute video covers days 3 to 5 of the ride. There was a lot of exhausting up and down as we crossed the rugged moorland of the Applecross peninsula, and the ponchos had another outing on day 4 as it rained for most of the day.
Day 5, on the other hand, was a much better day: magnificent blue skies as we cycled beside the islands of Gruinard Bay, and an enjoyable highland plateau beneath An Teallach, one of Scotland’s best-loved mountains.
On this fifth day I started to get into the routine of cycling, and we finished it at the picturesque fishing port of Ullapool, containing one of our favourite pubs of the trip, the Ferry Boat Inn – or as it prefers to call itself, the FBI.
Part 3: Ullapool to Durness
This five-minute video covers days 6 to 8 of the bike ride. On day 6 we crossed the lovely Assynt peninsula with its isolated peaks and wide open spaces. This is one of my favourite parts of Scotland, and we had good weather as we cycled beneath Stac Pollaidh and down to the sea at Lochinver.
The section on the north of the peninsula contained some of the steepest hills of the whole ride. We stopped frequently to get off and push. Animal lovers will also notice this section contains the most sheep.
On day 8 we crossed another plateau with a roof-of-the-world feel as we reached the far north coast of Britain at Durness.
Part 4: Durness to Inverness
This five-minute video covers the last five days of the ride. Painful viewing for me, but doubtless very amusing for the rest of you.
As we cycled past Ben Hope, the most northerly Munro, and left the mountains behind, I was hoping for some easy riding on the flat roads of the north and east coasts. Sadly, it was nothing like that. Flat roads, my arse.
As we neared the end of our journey, I reached the end of my tether, and it was all caught on film by Edita. Twice I slumped exhausted by the side of the road, and just to keep us on our toes we were pelted with rain during the dullest part of the ride.
We had some respite for the final day and a half, seal watching on Loch Fleet and cycling along some quieter country roads. There was a great sense of relief and achievement when we reached the A9 road bridge at Inverness. As you will see, I was unable to contain my excitement. I hope you enjoy watching.