Keeping close to home comforts
Keeping close to home comforts
Transporting my road bike out of Inverness opens up wider opportunities for cycling, but I always like to just jump in the saddle and start from home.
Heading across the Kessock Bridge leads to quiet Ross-shire roads and some lovely countryside into the bargain, and this ride is something of a variation on a theme.
Once over the bridge you can combine roads to make your ride as long or short as you like, and I've now come up with several circuits, this being the latest.
From home in Lochardil I follow the shared use path on Sir Walter Scott Drive to reach Inshes roundabout, continue past the Lifescan buildings into Raigmore Estate, down to Harbour Road and through the Longman Industrial Estate to the cycle path over the Kessock Bridge.
I stopped on the bridge this time to read some of the laminated notices fixed to the railings by volunteers, deterring people from committing suicide, then continued past the new Harry Gow's to reach the roundabout into North Kessock.
I left the cycle path here and rode round to reach the minor road signed for Ord Hill trails and Old Drynie House.
It's a bit of a pull up the hill from here until it flattens off, heading towards Munlochy.
High above the B9161, the views from this road are expansive, with Ben Wyvis standing out across the fields.
Finally the road starts to drop and it's a fast run down to join the B road and a right turn towards Munlochy, crossing Littlemill Bridge on the way.
The imposing Knockbain Parish Church, dating from 1886, lies at the entrance to the village. Built in the Gothic style, it retains many interesting features.
I took the minor road opposite the church on National Cycle Route 1, signed for the Black Isle Brewery, sections of which are silky smooth, making for frictionless riding. Passing the brewery sign further on, the road climbs to a junction.
Here I turned right, passing Redfield farm in the direction of Tore. At the Tore roundabout the cycle path crosses the A832 and a little further on continues alongside the A835 heading towards Dingwall.
In around a kilometre there's a road sign for Kilcoy. At a bus shelter on the cycle path there's a crossing point for the main road, but with fast traffic in both directions it's wise not to rush it.
Once across, the Kilcoy road runs downhill at another bus shelter. There are excellent views to the Beauly Firth and over the surrounding countryside on this fast descent, which ends at a junction with the A832 Tore to Muir of Ord road.
Crossing this main road leads to another minor road dropping to Redcastle and another fast descent. I like to stop at Redcastle and watch the birds feeding on the mudflats when the tide is out, or just gaze across the water. There's no better way to forget whatever troubles you may have, and we're fortunate in Inverness to have such stunning scenery right on our doorstep.
I've waxed lyrical before about the shore road from here back to Charleston and North Kessock and it really is a delightful ride with very little traffic to contend with.
There's a choice at Charleston either to cycle up through the new houses and rejoin the cycle path back to the bridge, or continue into North Kessock and take the steep little road back up to the cycle path much closer to the bridge.
Kilcoy road bike circuit
Distance 21 miles / 34km
Terrain Mainly quiet roads and cycle path
Start/finish Lochardil/Inshes roundabout
Map OS Explorer 432, Black Isle
Interesting scenery and variety on this rural ride