On another fair day, we began by traversing the Black Isle, first through mixed arable farmland, and then mixed woodland.  This involved a surprising amount of climbing.  We eventually picked up cycle route 1 (for Inverness) at Munlochy.

This proved to be quite a circuitous route, and eventually led us under the A9 to cross the Kessock Bridge on a path alongside the northbound carriageway! Unfortunately, this deposited us in a huge industrial estate, among huge articulated lorries. We extricated oursleves by ignoring any cycle route signs, unfortunately, this led us to take cycle paths which required us to cross busy dual carriageways.

Eventually, we found signs for Route 7 (Pitlochry), which led us through suburban streets and up some very steep roads, eventually emerging near the Culloden Visitor Centre. This was a bit fraught due to the near complete inadequacy of the signage for the route.  We had a cup of tea in a pub just down the road from the Culloden Visitor Centre,which calmed our rather frayed nerves. From here, route 7 was reasonably pleasant, even if it involved considerable climbing. We stopped to visit the fascinating Clava Cairns, which are neolithic burial chambers.Clava cairn

This was a bit of a bonus, and the Clava cairns was not a site I’d heard of previously – we only came across them because of Cycle Route 7, so this warmed my opinions of cycle routes after the Inverness fiasco.  These cairns date to about 2000BC, and appear to have been used more than once – latterly, they acquired stone circles around them.  Two of the larger cairns have long entrance passageways that align with the midwinter sun – you can see one of these in the picture.

Pressing on, we reached the point where route 7 runs alongside the A9.  Here it becomes a mixture of cycle path and (largely disused) roads. This is a pretty good mix, although at one point, cyclists are required to cross the A9…

After rather more than 50 miles, we eventually rolled into Aviemore, and decided to call it a day.  We had originally intended to get as far as Kingussie (which it’s probably fair to say is a rather more appealing town than Aviemore, but the route 7 and the shenanigans traversing Inverness had taken a bit longer than expected.

53.32 miles; 9.9 mph ave; 36.1 mph max; 5:22:17; total distance 415.15 miles