Day 15 – Bridge of Cally to Tomintoul

Today was probably the toughest day of the trip, though not the longest and not a huge amount more of climbing than other days, but each of the climbs was long and in places fairly steep.  The last climb being the toughest of all.

Anyhow, the day started with an 18 mile climb, though the first 12 of these were pretty gentle

And it was only the last three or four up to the top at Cairnwell that it got to 12% (1 in 8).

Most of us stopped for coffee in the cafe at the top, and some had cake.  Others continued to Braemar at the bottom for coffee there. One (Andrew) had cake at both the top and the bottom.  The weather, again, was better than the forecast with mostly cloudy and some sun and the most fantastic tail wind pushing us up the hill.  When we got to the top we were just about in the cloud and it got quite cold so everyone togged up for the descent.  Descents are cold as there is the wind from the speed and no work being done.

We continued down the Don to lunch near Balmoral Castle (and they never offered us tea even though we pay our taxes).  Beautiful views everywhere, and at one point four stags up on the horizon posing for us (but too far away to photograph).

The second climb was quite gentle, but fooled us by having a long down in the middle followed by more up; then a long descent to tea break at a great cafe at Colnabaichin and the final and toughest challenge of the day was the climb up the Lecht which started off with a 20% (1 in 5) climb.  This turned out to be more than the motor on Norman’s bike could cope with so his children plus Rob and Peter took turns to push him up the steepest bits in order to help the motor along.

The result we all cycled and walked all the way up, and then a final 7.5 mile descent to Tomintoul.  Many thanks to Pete and Rob for their most fantastic help which went well beyond the call of duty.