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Day 13 - Lairg to John O'Groats          Weather icon, click for today's weather in this location Today's weather in Lairg

Thursday 11 May 2006

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Map of twelfth day of route, click to go to interactive map

Route Description

The last and equal longest day! North all morning, past some Munro that Dad is going to drive up to bag that morning! I then hit the north coast before heading east to Thurso, the Castle of Mey and finally John O'Groats! Here I will be staying at the Seaview Hotel with Dad before he drives me back down to Cumbria.


Route map.

Mileage: 92

Cycling time: 5 hours 58 mins

Average speed: 15.3 mph

Top speed: 32.3 mph

Start to finish time: 7 hours 40 minutes

Worst hill:

High point: 856ft

Mileage to date: 1031

Total Statistics:

Total mileage: 1031

Total riding hours: 65 hours 15 minutes

Average speed: 15.8 mph

Top speed: 46.8 mph

Caithness and Champagne

What no porridge! After an early wake-up call from Dad at 6:30am as he set of up his Munro (number 220), I had a hearty breakfast and was on the road by 9am.

On leaving Lairg, the road quickly gets lost in the wild moor and heath of Sutherland. It is a single track road and not nearly as busy as the M25 at that time in the morning! It took me just over an hour to reach Dad's car at the bottom of the mountain and here I was able to leave a pannier behind (no this is not cheating Rob!).

Once turned right at Altnaharra, the road follows the length of the remote, but attractive, Loch Naver before continuing all the way down Strathnaver to the sea. This is some 12 miles of what must be salmon rich river, judging by the number of fly fishermen.

It was good to see the North Atlantic at Bettyhill, but less good to see a sign for John O'Groats still showing 55 miles! I had a call from Dad to say he was down off the hill and on his way to catch me up. We arranged to meet at Melvich, Dad fully expecting to overhaul me and get there first.

The next stretch was truly awful! Energy levels low and coastal hills coming thick and fast. However, I was pleased to round the last bend to Melvich just as Dad came up behind me. After a re-energising lunch and, having donned my tracksuit bottoms for the first time to keep my legs warm in the chill northerly breeze, I set off on the last 37 miles.

This part of Sutherland is a bit bleak for my taste, but the landscape softened across into Caithness. Once past the Doonreay nuclear installation, the land flattened too and, from Thurso, it was a virtually flat run all the rest of the way. This didn't stop me from counting the miles and, by the time I was passing the Queen Mother's favourite haunt, the Castle of Mey, I was ready for the end!

Finally, John O'Groat's was in sight and, once past the Seaview Hotel, it was a quarter of a mile freewheel down to the photo op. spot. Dad was there waiting, armed with a video camera and, more importantly, a bottle of bubbly! Also there was the now familiar spike where a sign should be!

I have to say, I was glad to be at the end - elated, but not in a rush to cycle home again! It has been an unforgetable 12 days through some of the UK's most beautiful countryside. I won't pick out highlights as hopefully my journal has given you a flavour of the enjoyment I have had from each day.

I would like to say thank you to all those who shared part of the journey with me, either supporting, accomodating, or riding. I would also like to thank Jonathan in particular, who has diligently uploaded photos and taken dictation most evenings so that you could follow my progress - what a star!

Finally, thanks to everyone who has given money to Crusaid - the total is now in excess of 4,500 and may yet reach 5,000 once it is all in. If that wasn't going to motivate me to get to the end, nothing would (that, and all your messages, of course!)! Thanks for reading.

Champagne review - Moet et Chandon - crisp, dry and perfect to celebrate a thousand miles of riding! Cheers! 10/10
Ben Klibreck - Dad's hill for the day

Loch Naver

Betty Hill Bay - My first sight of the North Atlantic

Orkney's in the distance

Dad and Andrew at John O'Groats!

John O'Groats at last!

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