Saturday, 7 July 2012

Day 6: Helmsdale to John O' Groats

Mileage: 57.

Leaving the hostel in Helmsdale at about 7.50am, we carried on north uphill for about 7 miles, into a pretty steady wind. On our left was a dense evergreen forest, and on our right, the North Sea. Reaching the summit of a partcularly unending climb, we were confronted by a deer (see photo). Anna immediately christened her "Debbie the doe", and declared her intent to ride her all the way to John O' Groats, since she was the size of a shire horse. On closer inspection though, it was clear Debbie had a minor injury to one of her rear legs, and so was let off being used as a noble steed.

Adrian then spent about 20 minutes with his head in a ditch so he could use the water there to find the source of Anna's slow puncture. Puncture fixed, we continued north, down a particularly steep descent, after which was another 7 mile slog uphill. Stopping for break at a lovely little cafe complete with crofter's museum, Anna befriended another animal. Kirsty the foal was particularly frolicksome, but too small to be used as a vehicle.

On, ever north, through the Sutherland area of Scotland, past Loch of Wester, to the town of Wick, from where we brought you yesterdays illuminating and witty blogpost complete with photos. They've been a long time coming, we hope you are suitably impressed! After lunch and rosary in Wick, it was a mere 17 miles(ish) to John O' Groats. In glorious sunshine, but a strong headwind we cycled through the increasingly windswept countryside, reaching John O' Groats at around 5.30pm.

We first cycled to the Duncansby lighthouse, mainland UK's north-easternmost point. We then cycled back to the harbour in the village, for a photo at the famous signpost pointing to Land's End and New York. We arrived to find a white pole defiantly bare of all signpostage. Apparently, the arms are removed at night to prevent thievery, which was something we were unaware of. Undeterred, we took the photo anyway. Photoshop can help with the rest.

This is the part of the blog in which we enlighten you with some extremely interesting general knowledge. John O' Groats was founded by Dutchman Jan de Groot, who ran a ferry between mainland Scotland and Orkney. This wonderful nugget of information was not found on Wikipedia, whatever anybody says. We met a friendly Dutchman, who was kind enough to take a picture of us at Duncansby lighthouse. We initially thought it may be Jan, but on closer inspection he turned out to be a tourist.

It is important to mention here that this was Adrian's final day on the cycle ride. He completed 380 miles from Berwick to John O' Groats, (plus an extra, unofficial 2 miles to pick up brake pads that I know he would want me to mention). Bravo Adrian!!!

We ate dinner at a local restaurant. Fish pie. Honourable mention goes to wholemeal bread and cheese, which Adrian going, and flapjack which Tom and Anna thoroughly enjoyed.

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