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Day 20 - Thursday 30th August – Lairg to Bettyhill

Daily Distance = 46 miles (expected = 49)

Total Distance = 1,106 miles (expected = 1,018.5)

Weather: Overcast, wet in the afternoon.

Contour: Long climb up to Crask Inn, then long down hill stretch to Altnaharra. Flattish to within 2 miles of Bettyhill then up-up-up. We can see the road tomorrow, which is a death drop followed by a mountain climb.

 

We set off a little later today, resting after yesterdays mammoth ride. My clothes were all dry, but just a few miles into the journey and a *** in a VW Golf covered me from head to toe in water. It was like a tidal wave, for a few seconds I couldn’t even see where I was going.

Apart from the weather, and the bad start, today was one of our best. We fortunately stopped at the Crask Inn for a cup of tea. Sitting in the bar, John noticed a map on the wall, and asked the landlord what the B road to Bettyhill was like. The landlord showed us his contour book and we realise going up to the north coast at Tongue would be a grave mistake. Instead we would cut right at Altnaharra. He also made us some sandwiches to take, and some cake.

Off we go, the road is wonderful, fairly flat and along the side of Loch Naver. Fishermen in the river running to the loch have their heads covered in netting. The midges must annoy them, we haven’t really had a problem so far. That is until we stop to eat our sandwiches and suddenly the sky turns black with humming insects and they descent upon us like a swarm of bees round honey. I have never eaten so quickly in my life. Within 5 minutes we are back on our bikes.

Bettyhill arrives very quickly, and we begin the long drag up to the village (what do you expect with a name like BettyHILL?) We get to the B&B (Dunveadon House) by 1.30pm, the earliest ever, and too early for the owner. Single rooms with shared bathroom. There is a lounge for watching television, and the bikes are put in the peat shed. 16 per person.

We wandered around the village, and got to the hotel for dinner by around 4.00pm. Not the greatest place on earth, but pleasant enough. We settle down with a pint of lager each and continue our pool challenge. 5 or 6 games later and neither of us can remember the score, but I think it probably ended up about even over the whole trip, let’s say 7-7. We both feel as if we have completed the journey, we’ve cycled from the south coast to the north coast. It may be difficult to get motivated tomorrow.

At around 5.30pm a lad called Lee walks in. He is doing the same journey, and after getting a room for the night joins us for a drink and some food. It is nice to meet a fellow nutter. Lee looked like the kind of lad who’d told his parents he was just popping out for a cycle ride. As we are eating 2 more nutters walk in, a whippet and his lip pierced girlfriend, who are doing the journey on a tandem and quickly as possible. We are determined they won’t beat us to John O’Groats tomorrow.

Thought for the day: how come John can’t keep up with my average speed of 10-12 mph on the flat, but when he’s in the lead can consistently travel at 16mph?

No punctures and no breakdowns.

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