Friday, 18 June 2010

Day 14 - Castletown to John O'Groats

Up at 8 for breakfast and on the road for a little after 8.30.  We cycled the couple of miles to Dunnet village and decided not to look for the churchyard on the way but do it on the way back - just as well as it turned out because we had gone past it.  It was a strong cold north,north westerly wind which was in our faces as we climbed the 3 miles up to Dunnet Head.  A very different kettle of fish to The Lizard with all its touristy bits and restaurants and gifty shops.  We climbed up to the viewpoint and took some photos then wandered down to the lighthouse.  It is well over 20 years since I was last here - not a lot seems to have changed.

From there it was straightforward to John O'Groats.  The wind was unrelenting but other than that we made decent progress.  We arrived just before 10.45 a.m. and immediately made for the shelter of the coffee shop.  It has to be said that John O'Groats is still a dump with little or nothing to recommend it.

All in all a slightly anti-climatic moment - what are we going to do after riding bikes for 6 or 7 hours a day for the last two weeks?  "It is better to travel hopefully than arrive."

We put on some extra layers of clothing and posed for the official souvenir photos then set off back towards Thurso.  We called in at Dunnet village as I wanted to see the grave of one of my set of gtx4 grandparents. I already had a photo that someone had sent me but it was nice to see it for myself.  I spent some of last night looking around Olrig cemetery and the ruins of the old church there.

Anyway, we got to Dunnet and just as I was about to cycle up the road I spotted the church. Whew. Saved myself a couple of extra miles :-).

After taking photos we headed back into Thurso for lunch.  On the way we met the guy we had last seen in Ross on Wye.  He had stayed in Tongue last night.  His mishaps had continued.  He had hit a pothole and buckled his frame.  We chatted for a few minutes and then continued on our way.

Given the challenges of getting bikes on trains I decided to post my bike back to Edinburgh. There was a bike shop close to where we had lunch so I went to ask their advice.  He was prepared to sell me a bike box that meant I could post the bike home. Good enough so that's what I did.  He apparently did 59 of those last year.  It seems whether or not you get extra bikes on the train is down to the guard.  Some are helpful and some aren't.  The owner also said that it was down to the council as to what kind of service Scotrail provide!

We then went and found the b&b we had called in at yesterday, had a quick shower and went up to the station to observe the 4.30 train.  We met some more end to enders waiting to catch it.  One guy had done it in 9 days. 
The good news is that the luggage racks are certainly big enough to take Sandy's bike if dismantled, so that was the next project.  We will therefore catch the 6.48 a.m. train tomorrow and get home in reasonable time.
I think I will go and tout my cycle reservation for the 4.30 tomorrow :-).  It must be worth a few quid to someone.

Now in a bar for tea. Thurso doesn't have a whole lot to recommend it on that front!

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