This morning, I sat eating the best breakfast I've had so far with the depressing sight of rain pouring down outside. Fortunately, by the time I'd bought some sandwiches in the town and was ready to leave, it had just come to a stop. I set off along NCN 7, which I was following all the way to Kingussie. Initially, this was along the B8079, running roughly parallel to the A9. Much earlier than expected, I came to a bridge crossing the River Garry, so took the opportunity to get some photos of my namesake. The road continued running alongside, although the banks were heavily wooded at this point (and also a railway line between the river and road) so it was not easy to catch many glimpses.
At the Falls of the Bruar, NCN 7 left the B-road and onto an old unused road running mostly parallel and quite close to the A9 - presumably, this had been the main road before the current A9 was built. The route would continue to use this old road for most of the rest of the day, sometimes switching to a stone path running alongside or just below the A9 when the old road disappeared. Overgrown cats-eyes and unused lay-bys were also occasionally to be seen. Soon, the trees began to thin out and the road became more exposed as it gradually climbed higher into the Grampians. This gave some excellent views of the River Garry wending its way through Glen Garry!
As the road rose higher and became more exposed, the headwind I'd been experiencing got steadily stronger and stronger, making it quite hard going. The wind also made it feel pretty cold, and intermittent rain added to the misery! Nevertheless, around lunchtime I'd made it half-way to my destination and was already higher than at any point previous on my trip. I ate my sandwiches in a slightly (but not very!) sheltered spot when Loch Garry had just come into sight to my left. This was a great view, with mountains surrounding me on all sides.
A mile or so further on, I reached the summit of the Drumochter pass, said to be 462m above sea-level (although my GPS claimed 468m), the highest I will reach in my entire trip. From here, I gradually began to descend again, still battling the wind, although this was beginning to ease a little. The route then diverged from the A9 along ordinary roads, passing through Dalwhinnie and past its distillery. From this point the winds dropped considerably and, together with a wonderfully smooth road surface, I really began to pick up speed at last.
The last few miles were a fast and easy descent into Newtonmore, where at last some sunshine was provided. Shortly afterwards I arrived into Kingussie and checked in to my hotel, where I found I'd been upgraded to a magnificent room with the holy grail of ensuites - a bath! A long, hot soak and a delicious (if rather expensive) meal in the hotel completed a satisfying day.
Distance: 44.8 miles
Total ascent: 749m
Cumulative distance: 833.2 miles
Interactive route map and profile: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1972