Sunday, 8 June 2008
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And so we've made it...
Cycling distance 50.7 miles
Total cycling distance: 1,018 miles
A relatively short day again but we still decided to get on our way by 930 in order to finish our final day in good time.
The first 15 miles or so in the overcast but warm conditions were pretty hard going with plenty of hills as we made our way across our final county boundary from Sutherland into Caithness.
The easterly route across the north coast of Scotland afforded some more spectacular remote views until we passed the huge ugly Durness the nuclear power station.
By 1pm, we arrived in Thurso with just 20 miles to go to John O'Groats. By this time, the overcast conditions had turned to beautiful sunshine and we enjoyed a sandwich feeling a bit surreal about having only a couple more hours of cycling left. One last stock upon provisions and a bottle of champagne and we set off slowly into a strong headwind.
Arrived finally into John O'Groats shortly after 4pm and it felt pretty surreal to actually be there and a bit of an anticlimax to be honest as there's nothing much to see! Similar to Lands end, they'd created a tourist attraction with no attraction.
Had our mandatory ripoff photograph in front of the signpost and cracked open the bottle of champagne. With the inevitable psychological relief of finally reaching JOG, we sacked off the idea of cycling the last 17miles to our accomodation in Wick and instead called for a taxi. As we found out, a lot of cyclists reach the end and decide to get a taxi to Wick -so we felt in good company.
Met at our accomodation over looking the Wick harbour by friendly geordie landlady with a welcome whisky to celebrate. Washed, changed and headed out to celebrate with a beer and a curry. By 11pm again, we were shattered and headed off back to the B+B.
Saturday, 7 June 2008
Friday, 6 June 2008
Cycling distance 55.6miles
Average speed 12.66mph
Having read other peoples account of this day and the remote scenery encountered, it helped to shift my tired body out of bed and onto the bike for the penultimate day.
After a breakfast served by the disciplinarian b+b owner, we set on our way from bonar bridge along the Kyle of Sutherland through Invershin to Lairg 10 miles away. As we arrived in Lairg, Nick did his good samaritan part by spotting a dog in the layby and then ringing the owner who had posted a lost poster at the local garage - aaah sweet!
From there we made our way north in the overcast but warm conditions onto the A836 and the single track road that suited the lack of traffic we were to encounter throughout the day. For the first time in a while we were cycling in almost total silence through heathland reminiscent of rural Devon.
Arrived in Althurra expecting a pub for lunch but instead found only a few houses. Ed had his turn for a problem with his back wheel with one of the spokes popping out. A temporary fix for the bike followed by some babybel, peanuts and scottish tablet (bought earlier at the co-op in bonar bridge), we then ploughed on towards our desination along the shores of Loch Naver and the gentle floodplain of the river of the same name. Great scenery but we started to struggle with energy for the last 10miles or so from the lack of a decent lunch.
Still, arrived in Bettyhill at the only hotel/ accomodation (not too distant from Faulty Towers) in the village at around 4.30 and settled in for a couple of games of pool and another early meal then bed ready for a welcome final but surreal push tomorrow to John O'Groats.