Lands End to John O Groats Challenge
The Last Bits
Well Oban was a nice little seaside town ... but wet! The day started with less cloud aall nd gave us hope for a better day ....... and it was a better day ... no rain! Beautiful countryside also and we stopped for coffee overlooking Castle Stalker. Some miles later saw some bike maintenance as the chain was getting a little mucky.
This route was taking us to Fort Augusta as the bottom of Loch Ness. We stopped briefly at Fort William for Paul to buy gifts for his better half and then off we went past Ben Nevis which is supposed to be Scotlands biggest mountain, but doesnt look that big at all! Evening saw us at Fort Augustus and we sorted out accomodation and dinner booking before Paul arrived at 7 pm. Dinner on the shores of Loch Ness, but Nessie didnt grace us with a visit unfortunately.
The next day my first visit was to the tourist information office as we were worried about getting accomodation in Bonar Bridge. They can check on line for £4 and book for you. We were offered a hotel 10 miles north of Bonar Bridge which we had no choice but to take. The route took us up the West shore of Loch Ness and then West over the hills. A slight detour for us to Inverness for a new gear cable, but the trip over the hills was wonderful and then a long hill down towards the Moray Firth and Bonar Bridge. Its then we discovered that the hotel was 23 miles away, and thirteen of that was down a one lane road alongside Loch Shin. Hotel was nice, on the loch side and we splashed out on a steak in a tartan lined dining room.
Next day we had to drive back to Bonar to start the day where we finished yesterday. This was a lovely route over the moors, but it seemed to go on forever and there was absolutely nothing but a few crofts along the way. We headed to Tongue as we were concerned again about accomodation. Tongue consists of a couple of hotels, a post office store and two B&B's, and we were lucky enough to hit lucky at the first B&B we came to. That having been sorted we bought sandwiches and loads of chocolate and headed back over the moors to meet Paul for lunch. So we sat eating Sandwiches in the dry in the middle of nowhere in perfect silence. Paul set off after half an hours break, and needless to say the clouds burst and he was soaked again in minutes. Story of the trip really.
Tongue was done by 5.15, and after dinner it was an ealy night. the guys in the pub said the last day was flat and easy. They were locals. They were being economical with the truth.
Toungue to John O Groats. The final push. The locals said it was easy. No problem then.
It was in fact almost as bad as Cornwall according to Paul. Out of Tongue he encountered the first hill, and then after that they came one after another as we climbed up the coastline. We met a couple that we had breakfast with about a third of the way along and they said they were struggling. Speaking to Paul, he was having the same problem. The last day, but a difficult one and with nowhere open. I hadnt seen a fuel station since Bonar Bridge and was running short so we drove for Thurso where we knew there was a garage. Having fuelled up we found a Lidl that was open and stocked up on two day old Chicken salad sandwiches and flapjacks and headed back to find Paul. We found him after about 15 miles and it wont surprise you to know he was attending to another puncture. Ive lost track of the number .. maybe seven or eight. After that we stuck pretty close to him for the rest of the way, as they tyre just kept going down whatever we did to it. Amazingly it lasted (with numerous pumpings) right to the last, when we arrived at JOG in the mid afternoon. At that point the tyre gave up the ghost and completely deflated. Ive uploaded the picture of Paul throwing his bike in the sea.
One mystery we never solved .... we were alongside a tandem couple for days and days. We last saw them on the moors above Tongue, and they were supposed to finish at the same time as us. Never saw them again, so if anyone discovers a tandem pair cycling around Scotland, please give them our regards.
Well that was it. 1095 miles. We got to see some magnificent countryside, enjoyed excellent hospitality throughout.
I'm gutted that after all the hard work and expense that I didnt get to finish it, but I am glad that "the team" finished and managed to raise money for a worthy charity.
I'm off to the doctors shortly for a knee transplant, and when I am able to I will continue cycling in Spain but I have made a mental note never to cycle ever again in Devon or Cornwal.
Many thanks to all of you that contributed to the charity. We were overwhelmed that people we really didnt even know felt able to do so and we are tremendously grateful. Thanks also to the three B&B owners that contributed and to Nicola Dorian and Ann that put us up and fed us in Burnham on Sea and Shrewsbury.
When I am back in Spain I will upload more photos. If you want to see more detail of the trip go to www.orris.eu.
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