Clyde to Cape Wrath – day 4

Today involved only one big climb, over the  Corrieyairick Pass to Fort Augustus. It’s big and brutal but only short. I left Loch Ossian SYHA in gloomy, damp weather, heading north for Loch Laggan. This section is generally simple cycling, on good estate roads and often downhill. It’s a popular outing from Fort William using the early Glasgow train, but make certain to book a bike rack in advance. From Loch Laggan the track turns east, traversing the south shore, passing impressive Ardverickie House and sandy beaches, if the loch is low. On reaching the gatehouse at the junction with the A86, turn left for only a few minutes ride and a rough track leads off right uphill, before the old filling station. A fairly short and easy uphill section approaches the open moor, before descending into upper Glen Spey . The Spey mostly flows east into the North Sea, but some is harvested via underground conduits into Loch Laggan, before being used for energy in the Fort William smelter turbines and finally flushing into the Atlantic.

The River Spey headwaters flow through some beautiful countryside marked by power lines feeding our need for energy. The ascent towards the Corrieyairick Pass is fairly gentle at first, passing Melgarve Bothy. This welcome shelter made a good lunch spot, before tackling the main attraction (?). The trail towards the pass has been trashed by 4×4 vehicles, but is still rideable, however the steep zig zags towards it’s summit are definitely for hiking and pushing. By now the mid-day clearance in the weather was settling into rain and strong side winds. In descent from the pass, south-westerly gusts were catching my bike-pack frame bag. A definite ‘list’ to port was required. The track is steep and rough in places and care is needed, before gaining the lower and better maintained surfaces. After 45 miles I was pleased to find a spare bed at the independent hostel Morag’s Lodge It’s haunted by the way.