Sunday, 9 May 2010

Day 11: Altnaharra to John o'Groats

Yay! Done it.

I've got sore gentleman's veg, I've got knees that will take a few days to work properly again, I've got blisters on ears and fingers from sun and windburn and I feel a bit drained but overall I'm in pretty good shape. And the aches and pains don't matter one bit. All I'll remember is a fantastic 11 days of cycling.

After a huge breakfast I set of a bit later than usual knowing that I had a shortish day of 75-80 miles ahead. For some stuuuupid reason I decided to wear shorts. That didn't last long as after 15 miles of chilly cycling and a freezing rain shower I put the longs on. The first 20 miles or so to Bettyhill were gorgeous despite the weather. Loch Naver and then the river Naver always on my right and reasonably flat. That soon changed when I hit the north coast road! It went up. It went down. It went up. It went down. Fairly challenging gradients too! All the way to Thurso. And the wind from the North was fearsome today, bringing sharp cold showers with it. Very tiring indeed. At times the road direction and the subtly changing wind direction meant I was slogging along at under 8mph. And that was on flat sections!
Wind? You're not kidding!!!

At one point I saw a cyclist ahead and put a bit of extra effort in to catch up. It took ages. And when I eventually got there I very slowly overtook a 60+ year old lady with a basket of shopping on the front of her bike! Either they are very fit/hardy up here or I was very tired or I wasn't really trying. I'd like to think it was a combination of the first two.

The views across some of the bays towards the Orkneys were stunning and I chose my places to stop and eat accordingly.

Beautiful north coast of Scotland

Soon realised that I had less than 10 miles to go and this spurred me on to put some extra effort in. At about 4.15 I rolled into the cold, windy, desolate hole that is John o'Groats and was greeted by Cath and Sarah and a small bottle of Laphroaig. Their support made this whole trip much easier and enjoyable than it could have been.

MADE IT! I'm not fat on this pic. Its the wind!!

It is supposed to be late spring/early summer and yet when I reached JOG the temperature was 5 deg and it was blowing a gale! For the last 9 days I've cycled (mostly) into a headwind and although it was tempting to cycle back and take advantage of the tailwind I decided to get in the car and drink the whisky instead.


  1. congratulations on completing,good blog

  2. You're an absolute star Rob, not helped by the foibles of the British weather you soldiered on relentlessly. Well done indeed! (Chris Hawkins posting)

  3. Congratulations Rob... an absolutely brilliant achievement. Take care of those blisters and have a good rest.

  4. Congratulations ... think you deserve a rest from cycling for a few days :)


  5. Hahahahahah..Sore gentlemen's veg!!!!

    Congrats mate, a mammoth journey and a lot of money raised. An inspirational effort.
    When are you doing the lap of honour?

  6. Great account of a fabulous trip. Bravo!