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Blog: Day 14 – Carbisdale to Tongue

Day 14 – Carbisdale SYH to Tongue SYH – 49 miles

On the road to Tongue

The Road to Tongue

(Backwards to Day 13 or Forwards to Day 15)

An alternative accommodation stop to Carbisdale YHA is in Altnaharra. The Altnaharra Bed and Breakfast has been recommended in 2010 by Twitter users @cyclingbob1 and @cminors.

For somewhere to eat at Bonar Bridge, there is the Crannag BistroNo recommendations from End to Enders yet but they do offer End to Enders a free Dram!! The following description is from the owner Kathy Smith “Would you be kind enough to let everyone know about us please?  We are situated in the centre of Bonar Bridge, 7 miles from Carbisdale Castle (but only 3 as the crow flies and if you come via Invershin bridge!)  We are a small family run restaurant, 24 covers, fully licensed and serving honest
local fare.

Cyclists are always good fun and very appreciative!  So we are happy to offer lejogs a FREE DRAM from our local distillery, Balblair, after their meal.”

LEJOG DAY 14 – Diary and Top Tips

Sustrans Route to Lairg

Today for me was without a doubt the best day’s cycling of the whole journey. On the home straight now with a relatively short and easy ride across the moors to Tongue on the north Scottish coast. We set off in a light and cool morning mist at 7am and after the first few miles passed through the village of Lairg. From here there was little civilisation marked on the map on the 40 mile mountain road to Tongue except for a very small village mid-way along called Altnaharra and an intriguing landmark called the Crask Inn.

We arrived at the Inn at around 9:15am and asked the lady in the back garden if there was any chance of a pot of tea. She turned out to be the landlady and invited us in to serve us with tea plus 2 slices of home-made cake for £1.20 each. She then told us that she was just taking the dogs for a walk and if she wasn’t back by the time we left would we mind leaving the money on the bar. Not only did she trust us to pay but also left us in charge of an empty bar!!

We cycled the remaining 20+ miles across beautiful rolling moorland roads through scenery very similar to Dartmoor (but without traffic or ice cream vans), and arrived at Tongue just in time for a pub lunch.

Leaving the Crask Inn

My wife and 2 children met us at Tongue as they were also staying in the hostel that night. They were on route to John O’Groats to welcome us in, and afterwards we were going to take a few days break in the Orkneys before heading South. We took the kids to the beach as its not often you have 28 degrees of heat on the north Scottish coast. However we were quite surprised to find we were sharing the beach with a herd of cows who seemed to be taking it in turns to promenade along the shore.

Our food parcels of chocolate bars we had sent to each hostel, were not something we looked forward to as by now we had built up our own chocolate mountain as we couldn’t keep up with the supply. The very thought of a chocolate bar made me feel sick, let alone eating one!


A brunch bar too far

Food – Today was a short ride and so we didn’t stop for food that often. The 2 main stops were the Crask Inn (highly recommended) for a cup of tea and slice of cake, and the pub in Tongue for a pub lunch. There are a couple of convenience stores in Tongue just down from the pub. They are all situated where the A road takes a sharp hairpin and a minor road carries straight on. The convenience stores are almost opposite each other about 100 Metres on the minor road as it leaves the A road.

The Route – This was the most impressive ride of the whole trip. Quiet roads, steady gentle climbs / descents, and wonderful scenery. Fantastic!

When you leave Carbisdale SYH, you turn R at the end of the drive and almost immediately L along NCR1. Despite being an official cycle route it appears to be more like a public footpath. The route takes you on the railway bridge over the river straight on to the A836 to Lairg. This saves you the trouble of cycling back to Ardgay.

The SYHA – After the disappointment of Carbisdale SYHTongue SYH was the complete opposite. Small, clean, well equipped, in an absolutely idyllic setting right by the Kyle, and superb wardens (husband wife and young child) who had some delicious home-made cakes for sale and were very friendly. Unfortunately I think they were only there temporarily for the 2003 season.

Climbing Profile



From To

Day Distance (Miles)

Running Total (Miles)

Height climbed (Metres)

Height descended (Metres)

Carbisdale SYHA Tongue SYH






Detailed Route Map


Bike route 380958 – powered by Bikemap


The approximate route we followed for Day 14 is listed below (1:50 000).

I used the Memory Map 1:50 000 Ordnance Survey electronic maps for route planning. Note: – Don’t however buy their Adventurer GPS units as they are rubbish in my opinion.

When you leave Carbisdale SYH, you turn R at the end of the drive and almost immediately L along NCR1. Despite being an official cycle route it appears to be more like a public footpath. The route takes you on the railway bridge over the river straight on to the A836, where you turn L to Lairg.

At Lairg carry straight on the A836 towards Tongue. Pass the Crask Inn, Altnaharra, and eventually begin to drop down off the plateau towards Tongue. Just as you pass the radio mast there is a minor road L which you take to the village of Tongue. You carry on through Tongue and the SYH is on the right side of the road just before you cross the causeway.

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