68.07 Miles Cycled
4082 ft of Climbing
After yet another great night’s sleep and a fantastic full Scottish breakfast I packed up the bike and headed off from the Auld Manse Guest House in Perth. I had booked ahead with my accommodation and my aim was to get to Dalwhinnie. This could only mean one thing, I had the longest and highest climb of the ride ahead of me, the Pass of Drumochter.
The route out of Perth followed the River Tay which meant it was an easy first few miles. I followed NCN Route 77 which is a route that links the city of Dundee with Pitlochry,
It was a bright sunny morning and the cycling was good, the rolling hills and scenic countryside made it a very enjoyable ride. I arrived in Dunkeld after around 17 miles in the saddle.
The small town was packed full of tourists and I did think about stopping but I had a deadline. I was due in Pitlochry late morning for lunch, I had arranged to meet some family and there was no way I was going to be late.
From Dunkeld the route took off the main road and in to the grounds of the Dunkeld House Hotel. From there I cycled up along the banks of the River Tay until I reached the busy A9. Using the Jubilee Bridge the route doubled back on itself along the A9 before plunging in to the Scottish countryside again. With the busy A9 to my right on the other side of the River Tay my route was through peaceful countryside passing the odd holiday cottage.
When researching this ride, I watched a number of YouTube videos and from time to time I would recognise places along the route. This was when I came across the Logierait Viaduct. I had seen this bridge on number of LEJOG videos and here I was.
As you approach the bridge there are barriers in place to close the Logierait Bridge as and when is needed. Opened in 1865 it formed part of the Highland Railway but now the railway is long gone and the bridge is opened to cyclists and traffic.
Still following the River Tay I was soon in the busy tourist town of Pitlochry and at the half way point of what I thought would be my hardest day. After lunch and a great catch up I was back on the road again and now on NCN Route 7.
Route 7 is yet another long distance route linking Sunderland and Inverness. I cycled up the B8019 which is a minor road that follows the busy A9. A short distance out of Pitlochry I was passed by a cyclist and we exchanged the usual hello, a short while later our paths crossed again and we stopped to chat. This cyclist had left his home in Kent and was on his way to John O’Groats.
He explained that he had cycled up the East of England and then crossed over the Pennines using NCN 7 before embarking on his journey North through Scotland. His destination today was Aviemore and I think he was feeling it! Rather him than me!
After a few minutes I set off again and my thoughts turned to the Pass of Drumochte
Cycling up the Pass of Drumochter on NCN Route 7
On arriving in Blair Athol there is a shop and toilet facilities which is good preparation for the route ahead. A few miles on from Blair Athol I arrived at the start of the Pass of Drumochte. A warning sign is clearly displayed telling cyclists to take care as there is no food or shelter for the next 30km.
This combined with the climb to 475 meters and warnings of sever weather it’s a wonder anyone would cycle up it. Despite this I carried on, it was a bright sunny day, I had food, water and the determination to succeed! What more could I need.
The Pass of Drumochte climbs for over 20 miles to the West of the Cairngorms. The route is a mixture of dedicated cycle path and stretches of the old A9. The new A9 is never far away and does take the edge of what is a remote part of my ride. After a couple of miles I passed some horse riders coming the other way and they were the only people I saw on the path.
Despite this being the highest climb of my 21 day ride, the route up was fantastic. 20 miles of gentle climbing takes you from Blair Athol to the highest point of the Scottish Cycle Network. To my left was the railway line linking Inverness and the odd train would pass. In all the ride fantastic and nothing to strenuous and before I knew it I had reached the summit and what goes up must come down. The last 6 or 7 miles in to Dalwhinnie were downhill, an easy end to what was a great day. I had reached the Scottish Highlands, cycled up the highest climb and sun was shining.
I checked in to the Old School Hostel and to top the day off I was joined by a friend who was joining me for a morning’s cycle. A night catching up and couple of beers as well as a curry in the Lodge Bar rounded off a good day.