Day 21 - Friday 31st August – Bettyhill to John O’Groats
Daily Distance = 53 miles (expected = 55)
Total Distance = 1,159 miles (expected = 1,073.5)
Weather: Overcast, but dry and turning sunny and bright for the last 10 miles. NW wind on our backs.
Contour: Splash – up-up-up. Then up-down-up-down for 15 miles. From then on it’s very flat.
A great days cycling. We set off at 7.45am, and completed the death drop and climb out of Bettyhill without too much difficulty. The route to Thurso is very hilly to start with, with long climbs and falls. We spent much of the time looking over our shoulders for Lee or the tandem, but neither appeared.
The plan was to get to Thurso for lunch, but we completed the 30 miles quicker than expected, and stopped for a mid morning coffee and cake instead. Thurso is a bustling little town. We purchased sandwiches (triple combination) from the Co-op and at the same time saw a man posting his bike home via the Post Office. It seemed very easy, he had only folded a bit of cardboard round the cycle frame.
We stopped for over and hour in Thurso, and assumed we had been overtaken by the tandem at least, if not Lee as well. 10 miles down the road and we spot the tandem against the wall of a restaurant. They have stopped for lunch. We continued until we got to within 8 miles of John O’Groats then stopped and ate our sandwiches. No sign of the others yet, and off we go again. A sprint towards the end, and a brief stop for John to put his t-shirt on, and we are soon in John O’Groats. Arriving at 1.30pm. Lee and the tandem arrived together some 2 hours later.
We had our photos taken, cycled across the finish line together, and signed the End-to-End book in the John O’Groats House Hotel. There is probably more at John O’Groats than at Lands End, and the weather was gorgeous, the best on the whole journey. It is amazing how close the Orkney Islands are. We had a pint in the hotel, and phoned home. Then we purchased some gifts (only what we could fit in the panniers) and set off for the B&B, which was only ¼ of a mile up the road.
No punctures or breakdowns.
I was amazed by the number of other cyclists at John O’Groats. 8 of us in total in one afternoon. Us, Lee and the tandem who all carried our own equipment, enjoying our efforts with each other but no one else. The others all had back-up vehicles and were celebrating with friends and family who had driven the journey with them. Despite the delight of having friends there to celebrate I still believe the true adventure is completing the journey unaided.
The B&B (and the hotel owner at John O’Groats for that matter) seem to go out of their way to show you how unimpressed they are with your achievements. I realise they must see a lot of nutters doing the same thing, but a smile and a ‘well done’ would not hurt and would go a long way to making you feel good. Caberfeidh Guest House had a twin room with en-suite. The owner made us tea on arrival, which was nice, and we had a television in our room. The bikes spent the night in the laundry room. £19 per person.
We wanted a good celebration meal, but ended up in the B&B having haddock and chips. The wine arrived after we got most of the way through our meal, and put a dampener on the day.