Sunday 9th October – Altnaharra to Bonar Bridge

Sunday 9th October – Altnaharra to Bonar Bridge

I had a good nights stay at the B&B in Altnaharra, really friendly couple who run the place, I stayed here last year when I came through on a different route from John O’Groats.

I left around 08:45hrs & headed up past Ben Klibreck for a long climb to The Crask, it was bright sunshine but I could see cloud ahead to where I was heading. img_2021Once I got up to the top I was actually cycling through cloud, beautiful views all around me. At the top I met a fellow solo cyclist whose bike was overladen with gear, he started off in Dresden, Germany 3 months ago & had ridden through Holland & got the Harwich ferry then cycled up to Scotland & had been mooching around cycle camping for a while.

I then had a good long run down all the way into the village of Lairg where I had arranged to meet friend Graeme again, who I rode with part of Wednesday. img_2029Lairg is  a central location in the county of Sutherland, having 4 roads which meet in the village it used to be known as the ‘Crossroads of the North’. After meeting Graeme & his wife Lorraine we headed off to Bonar Bridge about 12 miles away where he lives & where I would stay at his overnight.

On the way there we stopped off at The Falls of Invershinn where we watched salmon attempting to swim up over the falls. img_2036The Falls of Shin had a popular visitor centre managed as part of the Balnagown Estates, a company owned by the former boss of Harrods Mohammed El-Fayed, this included a restaurant & even a branch of Harrods & a waxwork model of El-Fayed himself (naturally!). In May 2013 the visitor centre & everything else went up in flames & was completely destroyed.

Bonar Bridge is a small town on the north bank of the Kyle of Sutherland in the Parish of Creich. The Kyle of Sutherland is a river estuary of the rivers Oykel, Cassley, Shin & Carron that all enter the Kyle above the bridge at Bonar. In 1764 the Earl of Cromartie & his forces returning south were attacked by Clan Sutherland near Bonar Bridge in what became known as The Battle of Bonar Bridge, during the battle most of the Jacobite officers were captured, many of the men were killed & the rest were driven towards the shore & were drowned trying to swim the Kyle of Sutherland.  Until 1812 the only means of crossing the Dornoch Firth was by ferry. On the night of 16th August 1809 over 100 people boarded the ferry on the Dornoch side bound for the market in the town of Tain, the overloaded ferry set off in calm waters but was dangerously low in the water. About half way across the bat began to take in water as it turned broadside to the tide & sank almost immediately with the loss of 99 lives. As a result in 1812 work started on a bridge across the firth. In all three bridges have been constructed over the years, the last one being built in 1973 is still in use today.


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