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.

Tuesday 10th June

Route: Knock of Muir near Aviemore to Inverness
Mileage: 42; 441 miles total; 1,059 to go
Weather: Overcast and showers

Stephen Pennington, the Chair of the Inverness Committee, and his son Findlay, met me at Carrbridge to join me on the stage to Inverness. At David Hayes' suggestion, we took the initial off-road stretch of Sustrans Route 7 and stopped at Sluggan to see the historic bridge – well worth a visit.

A quick Google reveals “The Sluggan Bridge crosses the Dulnain River on the old General Wade Military road, c1729, two miles upstream from Carrbridge. Wade originally crossed the Dulnain with a ford which was later replaced in the 1760s with a two-arch bridge. This was swept away during the great flood of the 3rd of August 1829, to be replaced by the current large single span bridge in the 1830s. The bridge has undergone a major repair in 2001 - 2002, by Sustrans as part of the National Cycle Network. Sluggan Bridge is category A listed and a scheduled monument. The Wade Road is an ancient right of way.” This explains why the arch of the bridge is unusually high for the surrounding terrain.

Without David's suggestion we could have taken the main Sustrans route and missed this gem. On the steeper slopes of what was quite a rough stone strewn patch, it was impossible to stay on the bike with the wheels skidding all over the place. Otherwise a pleasant ride which brought us back onto the Sustrans road route.

The rain looked not far away all day and came in showers, so it was a welcome stop at Tomatin for a hot drink in the pub/restaurant there. It was great to have company again – with the quiet roads it was possible to chat along the way and share experiences. Both Stephen and Findlay were glad of the chance to train for the forthcoming Highland Cross, an annual charity event involving walking and cycling across the breadth of Scotland. In recent years, L'Arche Inverness was the beneficiary of £50,000 for their new craft workshop.

At one point we met a couple of men walking with a red flag from Thurso to Brighton. Mike Vickers and friend were undertaking this walk of witness to raise awareness of Jesus Christ throughout the land.

Not long after that, we reached the Slochd Summit, 1315 ft above sea level. The prospect of a descent of the same distance gave us new encouragement, though the others knew it wasn't going to be quite that easy. As it turned out, the climbs were tolerable particularly the one up from the River Nairn before the famous Culloden battlefield where a new visitor centre has now been built. At one point we passed the prehistoric cemetery at Balnuarnan of Clava, with three mounds each surrounded by standing stones. Worth a visit sometime.

A phone call to arrange lunch and we were on our final ride into Inverness, the cycle path taking us alongside the busy main road at one point. We decided to take the direct route into the city and I had to stop for a photo at the city boundary to record that I had completed stage 2 and a total of c. 440 miles. A real sense of achievement.

The L'Arche Community is on the south side of Inverness near the river, and we were soon leaning our bikes against the new workshop, being welcomed by Anne Shaw, the workshop Co-ordinator, and posing for photos. The soup and sandwiches hit the spot, Anne. Thanks!

The last time I was here was to see the near completed workshop in my role as General and Company Secretary when it took three and a half hours door to door to fly up from West Yorkshire. This journey has taken 9 days.

It was then time to say farewell to Stephen and Findlay, who I have subsequently heard got good news of his exam results from Stirling University later in the day. Many congratulations Findlay - you can now relax and enjoy the summer!

I was due to stay in MacTalla, the newest of the Community houses nearer the city centre and was given a warm welcome by house leader Pawel and the other assistants, Sylwia, Anka and Erika, and core members Barbara and Kevin, as well as Angus, Mark and Jackie when they returned from their various day activities, It's a really great to be back here, having stayed a couple of times before, and I have really valued the opportunity just to be present with the core members most of whom I got to know back in the 90s.

MacTalla has the advantage of spacious rooms and an enormous annex at the back which provides a great light-filled space, large enough for the monthly Community Gatherings, the next due to be held tomorrow. The main focus of the L'Arche day is the evening meal sitting around the table. It's a profound experience which reveals the heart of L'Arche – mutual relationships. Conversation flowed naturally this evening: people could just be themselves. Great importance is placed on listening respectfully to whoever is saying something, whether in words or gestures.

Whilst everyone else had a house meeting after supper, I helped out with the washing up and then caught up on the blogs before going to bed.

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