Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Guest Blog: Glen Nevis

On seeing Andy Brown's Glen Nevis ride on Strava I felt there was an opportunity not to be missed. I asked Andy to guest blog his two wheeled jaunt and I have to say his contribution is absolutely fantastic. I really appreciate this Andy. I'm sure that others will feel the same.

There’s a fine line on family holidays as to how much time you can devote to your own interests, and how much you need to spend with the rest of your family. After careful consideration of the fact that I have spent good money on the “Squires and Spires” 79 mile sportive in early May, I decided last Thursday that I would edge closer to that line. I persuaded my wife Sara that she would like to take the car, with broken suspension (apparently due to the weight of 5 bikes and a roof box!), to the garage to be fixedMeanwhile, I whipped out the lycra and made a dash for Glen Nevis on the bike.

Ben Nevis from the road

We were staying near Fort William, about 460 miles north of Kettering. There are a number of busy and narrow A roads on the doorstep, so the quieter road up Glen Nevis was a good alternative for me. It is described as the most beautiful of the Highland glens, sitting as it does under the highest mountains in the British Isles. I estimated the return route was just under 30 miles, and I had exactly 1 hour and 50 minutes to get there and back again, before going out for a family meal. It is a bit of a climb as well – good training all in all. So the pressure was on!

Library picture of the Glen Nevis Road (Andy wasn't expecting this request!)

As far as scenery is concerned, the Highlands is the most jaw-dropping place I have ever ridden in. It is dramatic and expansive, with vast stretches of untamed land. The first section of the ride is a quiet lane, about five miles long, with (fairly) gentle rolling hills. It runs parallel to a short stretch of the Caledonian canalwhich connects the west coast of Scotland to the east, via a number of lochs. But the most obvious aspect is the north side of Ben Nevis and three other ‘Munros’ – that is, Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet, of which there are 282, named after Sir Hugh Munro who documented them all in the late 1800’s. The Munros are all still snow covered on the upper reaches at this time of year, and although reportedly in cloud for an average of 300 days a year – we were able to see the tops every day.

Library picture if Andy had walked on from the car park

The lane joins the main A road into Fort William, but shortly before the town centre I rounded the western flank of the Ben, and headed up onto the Glen Nevis road. This is flanked on one side by the Ben Nevis range, and on the other by more Munros, the Mamores. The road to the car park is 6.5 miles long and gains 400 feet, so not a huge gradient, but there are some steep bits – indeed, I was forced into the ‘granny ring’ at the end. But it is well worth it. The walk at the end of the road is truly spectacular (if ever you get the chance, you must), but I had hit the halfway mark for my time – so the homeward journey beckoned immediately.

As close as C&D Cycles got to the top of a Munro

There being little in the way of quiet circular routes, the return was by the same way, and I arrived back just in time. Stravashowed that I had achieved a 17 mph average, and was second (ok, out of 23) on the Glen Nevis uphill segment. Well chuffed, although the tail wind up the Glen may have helped a little …

This is Rich again: Thanks Andy, great piece of blogging mate. For everyone else. If you fancy a go just message me and we"ll sort something out!

Happy Peddaling

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