Day 17 Braemar to Nethy Bridge

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Yesterday (Saturday) we had another rest day, and hung out in Braemar, doing as little as possible.

Actually, I did take a short walk through the woods at the base of Creag Choinnich, which were enjoyably sinister (I’m reading Dracula on my iPhone at the moment, and I think the atmosphere of the novel might be rubbing off on me a tad). The walk also afforded a great view back to Braemar:

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This morning (Sunday) we rose early, with another lumpy ride ahead – through the Cairngorm National Park, up to the Lecht Pass (just a hundred feet shy of Friday’s climb).

We were expecting it to be tough, but we weren’t expecting it to be quite so tough.

The beginning part if the journey was very beautiful, threading its way through the Cairngorms, with hardly another traveller in sight. There was even a brief rainbow.

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But.

Then we came through the village of Cock Bridge (exercising what I consider to be remarkable restraint in not even raising an eyebrow at the name), and were met with a hill with a 20% gradient (that’s 1 in 5).

Time to get off and push.

Just as we started to do so, a woman poked her head out from a driveway next to the road, and said “It gets steeper!”. Cheers love. Always good to introduce a note of doom before a long climb.

We pushed up to what we thought was the summit just as the heavens opened; and saw that the road ahead of us carried on up and up, disappearing away into a cloud:

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We pushed on upwards (literally), as the cloud closed in around us, darker and darker. The rain decided that ‘wet’ wasn’t really doing it, so stepped up to ‘wet’, ‘hard’, and ‘painful’.

We hit the summit, and thankfully found the Lecht Ski Centre hiding in the cloud, both open and dry. Perfect timing for lunch.

Brilliantly, when we started again (after a burger each), the rain held off for the whole descent down to Tomintoul, and the beautiful ride on to Nethy Bridge:

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We’re staying at the lovely Lonely Duck Hostel in Nethy Bridge. We were met with a warm welcome by Kirsten, who showed us to the charming and unique eight bed cottage that we had all to ourselves for the night.

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The two owners, Valery and David, also dropped by for a chat as we settled in.

A splendid place to recover after a wet day’s cycling.

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