With a compartively easy distance today (38 miles) I completely unpacked my panniers, posing for a photo outside the hostel.
Left Inverness behind and crossed the Morray Firth on the Kessok bridge onto The Black Isle - not sure why 'black'. The sun shone and I was making good, but not spectacular progress. I decided to avoid the A9 for as long as possible so joined National Cycle Path 1 as it ran on a purpose built cyclepath, adding 6 miles to my day's target.
I resisted visiting the Black Island Brewery - I had been before. As I free-wheeled across the island by back axle was making grinding noises again. Nothing for it but to divert to Dingwall where the shop stripped it and re-greased it, seemed to do the trick. This added another 7 miles to the day
National Cycle Path 1 meandered along minor roads and into Sutherland, followed by a 750ft climb: (2.5 .Edgehills) at which point the sky grew dark and I donned waterproofs again. The views to Skibou Castle and Dornoch were impressive.
Had another 2 mile divertion via Bonner Bridge to get milk and museli. Eventually approached the Youth Hostel into a headwind after carrying bike and panniers up the 3 flights of steps to get onto the footbridge that was recently (2000) added to a spectaclular railway bridge - I do wonder how people crossed here for the previous 100 years.
Carbisdale Castle YH was owned by a founder of the Scottish YH Association and he left it to be a YH. It is a real Scottish stately home complete with marble statues, paintings, dodgy plumbing and bedrooms up 8 flights of stairs and through several passages - but the view made it all worthwhile.
It was full of active Scottish types who had been out bagging Munros (keep up these are the 238 hills more than 3,000 feet). A good crowd but with so large a place it was not as laid back as smaller hostels, lots of huddles around maps discussing the ascents for tomorrow.
Stats for the day, distance a respectable 54.8 miles, climbed 4,491 ft in 5:30 hours with a top speed of 28.4 mph and average of 9.7 mph (slowest and shortest full day).