Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Filling in my time

Having woken with a slight headache, I was reminded of the giant hole in my tooth. Here I was in Inverness, the only decent-size town for the next month. I had to get something done. First I phoned my own dentist, who confirmed it was a filling, not a crown. The receptionist thought I might be able manage without having it replaced, but really wasn't too helpful.

So at 09.00 I presented myself at a private dentist in the centre of Inverness. I was very fortunate to be able to wait only 15 minutes before being fitted in with a Mr Fitter. He put in a quick-setting amalgam which he thought should last me for the rest of the ride. That cost me £50, but it was worth it not to have the constant worry that I might get caught in the remotest part of the land with raging toothache.

So it was a late start from Inverness and with a dreadful forecast for late-afternoon, I had already determined that I would just cycle around the beautiful Black Isle and finish at Dingwall, where I knew there was a proper camp site. Having crossed the impressive Kessock Bridge, I rigorously followed cycle route signs and found myself going in a full circle! Those responsible for signage ought to ask an innocent cyclist who doesn't know the area to try and follow a route, pointing out where signs should be added or re-located.

I stopped for a while at Avoch (pronounced 'Och') and renewed an acquaintance with Gwyn Tanner, the Harbour Master, who also runs Dolphin Cruises to see the famous bottle-nosed dolphins in the Moray Firth. I had first met Gwyn about eleven years ago when I visited his harbour following a Trust Ports seminar in Inverness. Gwyn kindly donated £10 to the charities.

Then it was on to Fortrose and Chanonry Point, where dozens of camera-toting watchers were waiting patiently for a sight of a dolphin. I was fortunate and saw one almost as soon as I arrived, so moved on swiftly.

The road along the 'spine' of the Black Isle climbed steeply for several miles, with magnificent views of the Moray Firth. The road then descended steeply into Cromarty, with views this time across the Cromarty Firth to Nigg and Invergordon. I probably spent a little too long at the harbour but the sun came out and I took a few photos.

It was then a long, but mainly level grind into the wind back to Dingwall. At one point I crossed the busy A9 road, where a sign declared 'Perth 124'. It was only a few days ago when I was staying with John and Claudia south of Perth. Over on the hills (mountains?) north of the Cromarty Firth, I could see remnants of snow, a reminder that it's not summer yet (see photo on Facebook).

Tomorrow I shall be heading east, mainly. So for once I hope the westerly wind continues. As I write this at 9pm, the rain is thundering on the roof of the tent.

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