Monday, September 25, 2006

Neptune's Staircase

We did this route twice on consecutive evenings more out of necessity than in pursuit of a leisure ride: After 6 nights in a tent on Mull, surviving 'hurricane Gordon' and a tortuous drive across the Arnamurchan peninsula we fancied a night in a real bed, and a slap-up brekkie! We plumped for the Glen Loy Lodge (Map 1), an old hunting Lodge which was located away from the sprawl of Fort William in a quiet Glen. However, we had to find dinner and, since we have never been very good at resolving the 'who's driving' debate, the tandem was the only clear choice for transportation.

We took a look at our road map and figured that if we initially headed in the wrong direction on the main road adjacent to the Lodge that we could find a way onto the Great Glen cycle route rather than take the road into town.

As the B8004 dropped down the hill into Gairlochy (just off the top of Map1) and over the canal towards Spean Bridge we found that we could join the tow path on the east bank of the Caledonian Canal (above). We then headed back in the direction we had come from, along the well maintained cycle path, following signs for Fort William. The paths wends its way next to the canal back past the B&B on the opposite bank (Map 2), and over an aquaduct (surely a first for the TCA?).

Eventually the cycle path reaches Neptunes Staircase (right), a flight of locks where the Caledonian Canal drops down to Loch Linnhe (Map 3). Rather than continue to Fort William we crossed the locks here and found The Moorings, a hotel backing onto the locks. The Moorings bar was well below TCA standards (poor beer) but then did serve a nice pint of heavy and had a nice selection of malts from which Al chose low-fat starters before dinner (The local 'Ben Nevis' was suprisingly good despite the touristy name!).

Having eaten a rather ordinary but perfectly adequate meal we went to pick up the bike from the car park, finding that it had started to rain both evenings. Fully waterproofed we set off back to the Glen Loy on the B8004 (Map 3). This was the darkest, quietest road we'd ever been on which made for a very atmospheric ride, all lights blazing. We got back to our B&B, complete with real bath and bed, in about 25 minutes, the shorter return route cutting the ride time in half. Who needs taxis, eh?

Al leads the tandem across the staircase, slowly.

Route Maps:

Map 1

Map 2

Map 3
(Posted by: Al)

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At 6:26 am, October 09, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Neptunes staircase! now that sounds like a TCA ride to me - good work. Sorry to here the beer was below least it was warm.


At 6:30 am, October 09, 2006, Blogger TCA 2006 said...

P.S I like the new his n hers day glow apparel, prefer the two tone black and yellow.

At 8:15 pm, October 18, 2006, Blogger tortoiseshell said...

Blog updated. Now includes Tortie's map!


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