Rachel & I returned to Fiddler’s Restaurant this morning for breakfast and were relieved to find an assortment of cereal, fruit and yogurt. The dense Scottish breakfast is great, but a change was appreciated. Despite the lighter options, though, we still completely stuffed ourselves. Rachel even pocketed part of a baguette which we snacked on later in the day. It will be difficult to go back home and resume our normal diet: not feasting for every breakfast and dinner and often not having any dessert. That’s what vacation is for though, so we haven’t hesitated to indulge while we have an excuse.
On our way out of town, we loaded up on snacks since there didn’t appear to be any sources of food or drink mid-ride (Digestive cookies!). For the same reason, a lot of hikers will hike half way to Inverness, get picked up by a cab to be taken back to Drumnadrochit for dinner and lodging, then catch a ride back to resume hiking the next morning. In fact, Corey & Kate used this exact strategy years ago when they hiked the Great Glen Way.
With fully-loaded stomachs and daypacks, we resumed riding, which once again turned uphill just outside of town. It was wet and humid in the forest while we navigated the often-steep and slippery trail for the first few miles.
After about 3 miles the singletrack opened up to gradual fire roads, through fields of heather, up to highest point of the GGW, at mile 5 of the day.
On the other side we layered up to keep warm while making our way downhill, after plenty of sweating and a little rain as we spun our way up. Since it was the last leg of the trip, we didn’t resist letting ourselves get filthy anymore, though, which allowed us to pick up the pace on the saturated dirt roads and trails.
The next section was singletrack trail in need of maintenance. The vegetation on both sides was encroaching on the trail so much so that our handlebars barely fit and we were forced to duck underneath branches more often than not. The rain had seized, but the trees were still wet and therefore any dry parts of us quickly became wet due to constant contact with the wet branches. This made for slow progress, but as we ambled through the small-human-sized tunnel of tree branches, we noticed signs scattered along the trail, nested within the shrubbery, which promised REAL coffee, hot chocolate and plenty of other treats.
We suspect that the lack of tree trimming may have been strategy for the cafe owners, so that walkers and cyclists couldn’t easily breeze past the signs. Whether or not this was the intended strategy, the marketing caught hold of us, and as we pedaled along we were all fantasizing about the cafe where we stopped for “lunch” yesterday in Invermoriston. So we turned off the GGW when we arrived at the detour for this cafe and quickly realized, that it (Abriachan Eco-Campsite & Cafe), was unlike any we had been to before. While standing underneath a small shelter and admiring a pig and several chickens, the owners prepared and delivered our order of coffee, tea and hot cocoa, along with a few shortbread cookies and marshmallows.
I can say firsthand that the coffee, cookies and marshmallows were top-notch, and I think everyone else would agree.
It was an unexpected rest stop with very friendly owners and we certainly won’t forget them.
I highly recommend it to anyone out there who walks/bikes the GGW some day. For more details and pictures, check out this blog post, which I found online about the cafe. I don’t know this person but I am jealous of them for having a nice, sunny day while they were there!
The route transformed again after the cafe, this time to a stretch of pavement void of any traffic, then to smooth dirt roads and trails for nearly 10 miles before the final descent to Inverness.
At the bottom, with only a few miles of city streets and paved paths through parks left of the entire trip, I got the only flat tire of the trip for our whole group.
Once that was fixed, we cruised along the canal on our way to Inverness Castle which marks the official end of the Great Glen Way.
After taking pictures and discussing our plan for the evening, we parted ways temporarily, with mixed feelings due the the excitement of accomplishment but also the sadness of the adventure being over.
The final tasks of the bike trip were to remove all of our personal items and leave them in a designated spot at the B&B’s, where Nevis Cycles would pick them up. We gave our thanks to the bikes for doing such a fantastic job carrying us across Scotland, and then retreated to our room where we cleaned ourselves and our dirty gear in the shower, before venturing out for a celebratory team-dinner of pizza and pasta.
Later on we wandered the city in search of souvenirs, wine and desserts.
Eventually we succeeded and all 6 of us returned to our room, where we shared wine and dessert while watching Olympic cycling events.