LEJOG 30 Sep : Blair Athol to Aviemore

Christine at the summit of the Drumochter Pass.

Good breakfast at the Athol Arms with grapefruit segments and other fruit options. We left in drizzle at 09:30 but the slight breeze was behind us and the slopes were very gentle so it was very easy riding. Despite the scenery, I took no photographs, it was either too wet or we were moving too quickly to countenance stopping.

The route broadly paralled the river, railway and the A9 trunk road. Sometimes we were on long sections of the old road, passing an abandoned petrol station, its custom stolen by the upgraded highway. Otherwise we were mainly on cycle paths, Sometimes away from and at other times alongside the highway but separated from it and a good smooth surface.

My chain came off and jammed on the approach to Dalwhinnie and I had to upend the bike to free it.Thereafter, my chain became jumpy and slipping over the cogs so I need to get it checked out.

It wasn’t a day for a picnic so we’d researched cafe options before setting off. The Lodge at Dalwhinnie had been enthusiastic reviewed and was almost on the route. We arrived at 12:30 and stayed over an hour. The dahl with flatbreads was exactly what we needed, warming and perfectly spiced. Cake and peppermint tea followed. Great friendly cafe, if passing again we’ll call in even if the weather is warm and sunny.  

The climb up to the Drumochter pass had been remarkably gentle though very misty at the top. The weather was dry for a time as we coasted down to Aviemore but then the rain returned, heavier this time.

It was dry when we reached the SYHA hostel at 16:20. We like hostels because of the self catering kitchen and drying rooms but the SYHA have closed these facilities. When I booked, I’d hoped they’d be open by now like the two hostels we’d used in Englend. I like to support hostels, particularly since they’ve been badly hit by the pandemic but they’re poor value if these facilities aren’t open. £50 for a non ensuite room with no towel, toiletries or breakfast compares badly with budget hotels.

We failed to book a table for dinner, Scotland is still thronged with tourists even on a cold wet day at the end of September. The hostel manager said most places were opening only Thursday to Sunday because of staff shortage. M&S Simply Food again rescued us.

Today’s distance: 49.9 miles (80.3 km)
Today’s ascent: 685 metres
Cumulative: 871.9 miles (1403.4 km), 16202 metres

Aviemore to Inverness