Monday, 19 July 2010

Inverness bound

Off again today, making further way towards Inverness and the entrance to the Caledonian Canal. This goes down the Great Glen, via Loch Ness, coming out on the west coast of Scotland near Oban.

The winds were very light, so we motor-sailed to Inverness, passing many evocatively named places along the way: Portknockie, Lossiemouth, Findhorn, Munlochy...

There were many seabirds along the coast, and some off-shore in large gatherings, which we assume indicated shoals of fish below the surface. I wanted very much to see seals and dolphins on the way, but it took until the entrance to Inverness Firth before we saw any.

As we were motor-sailing, I took the opportunity to do my party piece - bake fresh bread on board. While the bread rolls were rising, I also made half a dozen blueberry muffins to have with a drink of hot chocolate during the passage.

The approach to the Caledonian Canal is very scenic. While the eastern side of the Firth is more developed, the western side is more mountainous, with small villages on the shoreline, backed by steeply wooded hillsides. It could very easily be an alpine lakeside.

At Inverness itself we came under the spectacular Kessock Bridge. Because we came through at the top of the tide, it was quite easy; but on the ebb spring tides, and after heavy rains, the combination of tidalflow plus the rivers that feed this area can give a flow of over 6 knots under the bridge.

So we are moored up at the Clachnaharry sea lock, waiting for it to open at 8am tomorrow morning. We then have 8 days to traverse the length of the Canal. No tidal calculations for 8 days!

So far we have passed both the most easterly and most northerly points in our journey. South and west await.

57 29.446' N 04 15.818' W 533 miles done, just under 1/3 of the way.


  1. Are you going down the Caledonian canal or up and across the north of Scotland? Would love to visit the Orkneys but I suppose, the weather may not make it advisable.

    You seem to be doing pretty well so far. Three friends I know from the Ealing Cycling Campaign are currently close to completing the John O'Groats to Lands End trip by bike, using mainly SUSTRANS routes. The three became two though at Glasgow, still not quite sure what happened to Tim but it seems he either gave up or fell out with the other two.

    One of the other two had his front carbon forks fracture and was lucky to find a shop that could replace them near Glastonbury.

    They should get to Lands End in a few days!

    Hope the weather stays reasonable for you,
    All the best,

  2. baking fresh bread aboard is a pretty impressive party piece - i can almost smell it!

  3. Hey,
    You're at scotland already. Amazing