Day 12 Bettyhill to John O’Groats via Dunnet Head

The island of Stroma across the Pentland Firth.

The island of Stroma across the Pentland Firth.

I had no need to set the alarm clock, heavy rain beating on the motor home roof and 30 mph winds rocking the van had woken me and just for good measure that bloody cuckoo was in full song.

I must admit to feeling pretty smug that the extra mileage yesterday had rewarded me with a relatively short distance and a massive tailwind. The heavy showers were still rolling through along with a noticeable drop in temperature.

Seeing no reason to change a winning formula I agreed to meet Kaye after 30 miles for coffee but after 3 steep climbs I was beginning to see the finish line getting further away.

Coffee stop at Castletown, those roof slates are heavy.

Coffee stop at Castletown, those roof slates are heavy.

Up to this point I had been on the A836 but after Reay I turned onto NCR 1 which followed back roads into Thurso, this road was flat and isolated run down houses were interspersed with occasional new build prefabricated houses. The fields were well stocked with sheep, cattle and gorse.

Thurso was the main town on that section of northern coast and beyond that was a long flat straight road all the way to Castletown where I met Kaye for coffee.

Dunet Head and a job to stand up in the wind

Dunet Head and a job to stand up in the wind

After morning refreshments the penultimate stop was Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of mainland Britain and as I turned to head north the ferocity of the wind could be felt, I had 4 miles to pedal as the phone rung. Kaye was already at Dunnet Head lighthouse and asked me if I really wanted to carry on to the top, the wind was blowing at a steady 35mph but I was carrying on now even if it was on all fours.

nr Dunnet Head

nr Dunnet Head

Arriving at Dunnet Head we walked to the observation point, the wind was cold and brutal and even holding a steady camera for the photo call was a struggle. I coasted back down and it was amusing to see wheelie bins secured with chains and guy wires and the field edges lined with stone slates to presumably offer some shelter for the sheep. It would seem up here wind was the rule rather than the exception.

Next stop John O'Groats

Next stop John O’Groats

The final 8 miles were a very fast ride past the Castle Of Mey a former favourite of the late Queen Mother and I rolled into John O’Groats at 11.40 to end what was for me a remarkable personal journey. Once again Kaye was already there with camera in hand, I would not have been able to do it without the complete backup team that Kaye provided. John O’Groats is marginally smarter than Lands End and after the obligatory pictorial record and to the sound of bagpipes it was time to celebrate with a large mug of tea and bacon sandwiches, Job Done.

Team Binsted, Job Done.

Team Binsted, Job Done.

 

Stats

Bettyhill to John O’Groats via Dunnet Head 56.35 miles

Total Mileage 975.70 miles

Avg speed 17.0mph

Climbing 3152ft

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