With thanks to my late aunt, Jean Abdee, whose legacy has helped make this possible.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Day 18: Tongue - Thurso

Stats: 48.38 miles, odo, 1200.4, max speed 36 mph, av speed: 9 mph. Time: 5:19:24, total travel time approx 7.5 hours.

There didn't seem a lot of point in rushing out this morning, with only 40 miles to go, so had a leisurely breakfast and visited the beach and causeway at Tongue before getting on the coast road towards Bettyhill and Thurso. Decided to give the gps the day off - after all, the only thing to bear in mind today was to keep the sea on the left!

The first order of the day was to take a minute to turn all my brake-blocks upside down, a little trick Dad taught me when I had my first Dawes bike for going to school... I know it's not ideal, as these are curved, so when upside down may scrub the tyres, but the back tyre has had it anyway, and at least I can be assured I will be able to stop!

Met Lisa, my roommate from Tongue Hostel at Bettyhill and we had an early lunch at the cafe there and visited the Farr Stone, another carved stone monument on the 'Pictish Way' dating from the 8th/9th century.

The weather overall was an improvement on yesterday; there was a really hard shower in the morning which was cold and soaking, and I had wet feet for most of the day. The thing about waterproof socks is that if the water gets on the inside (and it did) it stays there. It was still very windy, but the wind died down somewhat in the afternoon, and with the sun out, it could even be said to be pleasant. The scenery was absolutely marvellous, with the steep cliffs, sandy beaches and fantastic surf. I really wanted to go swimming - but I think it would require a very good wetsuit!

The roads were a little more challenging than of late, with a particularly long climb up to Bettyhill and some ups and downs thereafter, but the downhill into Thurso was great. With such scenery to look at though, it was no hardship to get off and walk occasionally.

Went up the road at Strathy to take a look at the lighthouse, but contented myself with looking at it from afar, at the end of the public road - the wind at that point was terrific and it added about 6 miles just doing that bit. Strathy is so isolated and the houses so spaced out it's hard to imagine living there. It's a village created from the Highland clearances, where the refugees from the crofts went when their landlords got rid of them to make way for sheep.

Lisa stayed at Durness the other night, and said that the ferry to Cape Wrath wasn't running; partly due to the rough weather, and partly due to a MOD exercise (which apparently included bombing - the hostel at Durness was shaking!). So it seems that I couldn't have made it to Cape Wrath this time even had I wanted to, which makes me feel a lot better about not making it!

Thuso is a lot bigger than I imagined; it must be the biggest town on the coast. Stayed at the backpacker's hostel, which is above a fast-food shop (I didn't succumb - there's enough food in my panniers still). The traffic from Douneray (nuclear power plant) was quite heavy coming into Thurso too, which was unexepcted.

So here now and all ready for finishing, which is sad on one level, but a relief on another. Hopefully the weather will be nice to give me a good photograph at the signpost!

1 comment:

  1. Hello amazing Ruth!!! Been following the blog but couldn't figure out how to comment until Chris explained it ;-) All the best for the final push - it seems astonishing that, since I last saw you, you have done nothing but cycle (and eat cake!) You've been the source of much chatter in the office - we are all thinking of you. YOU GO GIRL!!!! Jenny xxx