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Published: August 28th 2006
July 22 to Aug 4
Scotland is effortless, very gorgeous, isolated and few cars on the secondary roads, any route you would choose to take is going to be perfect. My time there was so easy and enjoyable there isn't much to write about. The two places I would recommend for a two week long cycle tour would be here and Tuscany.
Arriving into Abedeen on the east coast I would cross the highlands, meet my steepest climb of the trip and then into Inverness for a sharp left turn into Loch Ness. Stupid fiberglass nessy statues made me race away from the lake and I couldn't stomach a tour on the water for all the cheese that is dished up. Leaving the Loch and riding through the five sisters of Kintail on my way to the Isle of Skye I entered the picture perfect valley of the highlands, gray rock peaks with tufts of vivid green stuck in the cracks, gorgeous.
In Skye I had my first true tailwind that lasted an entire day, along the northeast coast there are several sites to pull over and gawk at. Each time, with the wind
I would pull out, race several kms at nearly 50kms an hour and arrive at the next site along with strange stares from other car going passengers who saw me at the last site. If only every day could be like that. They say Skye is Scotland in miniature, true, craggy mountains, windy plains, waterfalls and the green grass leading down into the sea along with the most Scottish of accents I heard. Pulling into a small store, I hung around listening to the old shop keeper spinning yarn with other locals though I could only understand a few words here and there.
Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park was my goal after leaving Skye and riding slowly thought the spectacular Glen Coe way which resembled a wide valley of tundra, no trees. Loch Lomond N.P. really slowed me down, with a private bike path running a good distance along the narrow Loch I barely covered 100ks over two days, every rest point had a perfect photo and demanded that you stop for a break. Camping along the shores was allowed as well.
Only complaint are Midges, tiny biting flies that come out
at dusk and so numerous and nasty they can cause temporary insanity when swarmed. I jumped into rivers more than once and found that I can set up my tent in 80 seconds flat. They suck but not quite as bad as those sand flys of New Zealand. Two of the prettiest places I visited but filled with vile insects that would give you love for mosquitoes in comparison.
After a visit to Stirling and its massive castle I settled into Edinburgh for three days waiting on my flight to Norway. Many people told me that Luxembourg and Edinburgh are two of the most beautiful capitals in all of Europe. Writing this from Brussels (not very beautiful) I'm heading to Lux next to see if it compares.
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