John Peet, former General Secretary of L'Arche UK, is hoping to raise £30,000 by cycling 1500 miles around the UK and visiting every L'Arche Community and Project on the way. The money will go to L'Arche in Zimbabwe, where funds are so desperately needed just to keep the Community going, and to the Projects in Glasgow and Manchester that, with your help, will soon become L'Arche Communities.

Monday 9th June

Route: Milton of Pitgur, near Pitlochry to Knock of Muir near Aviemore
Mileage: 69 399 miles total; 1,101 to go
Weather: Overcast

Well fuelled for the road, I said goodbye to Elizabeth around 8.30 am and set off back to Pitlochry. Here I found a RBOS branch to deposit the cash fund collected so far. It's a feature of our technological era that things are not quite as simple as you would expect. Despite the Royal Bank of Scotland owning the NatWest, I was told that it was not possible to pay into the L'Arche account without a pay-in slip! Fortunately a call to Debbie in Silsden sorted the problem as L'Arche in Scotland uses the RBOS. Despite this technicality, the staff were very patient and there was a really friendly atmosphere to the branch. Andrew deserves a special mention.

I was anxious to find a wireless internet point but the internet cafe in town was closed so I thought of sweet talking a hotel to let me use theirs. Then I spotted Perth College on the High Street and found a very helpful person, Jane, who allowed me access to one of their computers. Here I also met Barbara who was doing an assignment on one of the computers. I'm aware it would be ideal to upload a blog each day, but after a long ride and spending time with my hosts, sleep comes easier than writing. So please be patient if they take a day or two to come!

Before leaving Pitlochry at around 11.00 am I popped into The Scottish Shop to buy a couple of postcards and left a BBR card with the Sikh owner. No sooner than I had left the shop, than he rushed out and gave me a wee blue teddy bear which I've named Archie. Thanks so much Kirpal. Interesting to hear of your Ipswich connections where we have a L'Arche Community.

The next stop on the quieter B8097 road from Pitlochry, past the turning to Loch Tummel, is Blair Atholl. Nearby is the impressive House of Bruar, an upmarket visitor shop selling everything from smart raincoats to fresh raspberries. Something said I should pop in and ask if they would be interested in sponsoring my ride. I was able to explain what I was doing to Oliver Platts who kindly offered to put it to his Director. So here's hoping they will find their way to supporting L'Arche.

The weather started to deteriorate as I headed into Glen Garry, though the road in places was a high grade tarmac surface with only me on it. This was the start of the big climb up to the Drumochter Summit. Wind and rain are the cyclist's worst enemy when it's particularly important to keep dry and warm. The direction of the wind was from the north west for quite a stretch making it difficult to make headway, or at least that's how it felt, It was a really testing time and the only option is to keep pedalling and dream of that hot bath. Judith from Silsden had mentioned a good cafe along the A9 at Dowally, but I suspect I missed it because of the cycle track taking a separate path. I thought there might be something warming in addition to whisky in the Dalwhinnie Distillery visitor centre. Sadly not, but Simon directed me towards Newtonmore where there was a cafe and pottery on the way there. No sign of it from the cycle route so it was onwards to the Ralia cafe where I refuelled with a late lunch and got onto the wireless internet thanks to Kinga and Eva.

It was about another 2 hour journey from here to Muir of Knock, six miles north east of Aviemore, eventually reaching the River Spey and the Abernethy Forest in the shadow of the Cairngorms where patches of snow punctuate the higher summits.

The only stop was to check with a local resident, David Alexander on directions to verify Sal's verbal instructions. The SatNav had brought me on the right road but directed me to the wrong house due to the fact that The Muir of Knock had the same post code as a number of other houses in the far flung surrounding area! After a phone call I eventually spotted Sal who had walked to the end of her drive to greet me.

It must have been over 10 years since I called here by car from L'Arche Inverness. I had got to know Sal when she was a member of the Local Committee there and where she also volunteered in the workshop. So there was much news to catch up on after the longest leg yet (69 miles) and a wonderfully relaxing bath. It was very good to meet David who runs the local Landmark Centre in Carrbridge. When I mentioned I had been staying at the Templetons, the name rang a bell with him and he produced a 1957 photo of the Officers of the Black Watch lined up with the late Queen Mother, where there indeed was a DA Templeton in the back row! I must ring Douglas and check.

After a wonderful meal I was grateful for the use of David's computer to upload some photos to the blog. Then to bed. Thank you for your excellent hospitality, Sal and David.

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