Friday 13thJune 2008
The Crask Inn to Bettyhill
Apart from a short hill at the beginning of the day and another at the end, the ride in theory from The Crask Inn to Bettyhill should have been easy. The plan was to follow the Strath Naver river as it wended its way down to the north coast. The chances of finding any tea stops would probably be negligible as we were informed by the fishermen that the hotel at Altnahara had closed down and there were no other villages on route. The weather looked promising as we set off although the forecast was decidedly dodgy.
We were soon over the hilltop and could see Loch Naver in the distance. It didn’t take long before we were cycling along its shores stopping at various points to take photos and to look at the information board at Grum Begg. This area is famous for the Highland Clearances where the Lairds decided that sheep farming was more profitable than having people on the land – so large areas were cleared and many people moved to the New World to begin again. It was not long before the Lairds found that the land could not sustain intensive sheep farming and so it wasn’t many years after that this method of agriculture was abandoned.
For the first time on the trip we saw another tandem – the couple on it sailed passed as we had stopped to admire the view. The weather, which had been showery up till then, took a turn for the worse with heavy cold rain and wind blowing in from the north coast making even the downhill descent difficult. The last couple of miles into Bettyhill was uphill – a real struggle in the conditions. And there was the couple on the tandem again going back in the opposite direction – where had they been? All we had had all morning was water to drink and a few nibbles. We arrived at the hotel B&B at 2pm really glad to get warm (the radiators were on in the hotel bedroom), to have a good cup of tea and to eat our lunch. From 3 to 4 we slept.
Partially recovered we made our way on foot down to the Strathnaver Museum situated near Farr Beach next to Bettyhill. It was only open for another half hour when we arrived and the enthusiastic guide took us on a quick guided tour which lasted for all but 10 minutes of this. There wasn’t much time to take in the exhibits. Outside the Museum is situated the Farr Stone – an early Christianised Pictish stone dating from the 8th century which had come from Grum Begg. We then walked back along the beach and up the hill to the hotel. The sand and sea along this part of the coast is beautiful.
Mileage 31.0 miles Total 426.2 miles