Although we now needed to go east, S had the idea to head north from Salen (on the Ardnamurchan peninsular). A friendly chap at the ferry said there was a very fine castle to visit and we also wanted to search for a vitrified Iron Age fort. This is one of many where inexplicably the rocks forming the walls of the hill fort have been cooked at such heat that the rock has melted and turned to glass. No-one knows why – or even if the process was accidental or a design feature, although as vitrification makes rock less strong, it is thought to be some sort of retribution. We cycled to The Torr at Shielfoot, scrambled through steep dense forest to the top of a spur and were rewarded with a spectacular view. We wandered around but were never quite convinced we'd identified the fort amongst the trees. Clearly we needed someone to point out signs to subtle for us to recognise.
But we did get up close to a couple of red deer hinds who looked disdainfully down on us as the rude intruders we were. And that was one of the big advantages of cycling. You hear more and see more, alerted by the sounds in the undergrowth. Then it was on to arguably the most beautiful castle in Scotland: Tioram. Certainly its setting was very fine, even on a slightly grey day. It was amusing to read a little about the recent history of the castle and why is is being left to tumble into the see. It seems a wealthy English pilot has upset the locals who don't want it to be his holiday home.
And all this turned out to be a 15-mile detour before we’d even set out on our final full day of cycling…. So it was east now through Strontian – where Strontium was first discovered – and finally battling against a wind so strong we had to pedal downhill, we were grateful to arrive back at The Inn at Ardgour, where the little auks were still fishing.
Finally on the last day we could enjoy cycling back along the shores of Loch Linnhe and - at last - views of the top of Ben Nevis, and the refreshing sight of mid-May snow.
Had I packed right for this trip to enjoy a good Scottish heatwave? Of course not.
Midge repellent – never used. Clearly we were moving so fast on our bicycles that they couldn’t catch us. I counted less than 10 bites all week – which must be some kind of record for Scotland.
Bog-snorkelling kit – a sad omission from our plan, although the weather wasn’t warm enough: perhaps I should have packed a wet-suit.
Underwater camera – would have been useful
Tiny windscreen wipers for my glasses – I really, really need some.
Silk shirts were an asset – not because I wanted to look stylish (that is seldom my intention) but because they were great for their comfort and are quick-drying after being washed each evening.
It was a brilliant trip. When the sun shone I felt quite hardy, and it felt quite good to cover nearly 200 miles in a scant week.
I was surprised by the number of defibrillators we encountered.