LEJOG Journal

Cycling Lands End to John O'Groats April 22nd 2011; 1000 miles, 10 days…will we make it?

Day 9

It’s really starting to feel like we’re close to the end now and everyone is in good spirits now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. How could you not be in good spirits with clear blue skies, the scent of sun tan lotion in the air and nothing to do all day but cycle through beautiful Scottish landscapes?

We set out from Invergarry after a great breakfast and a good nights rest at the fantastic Invergarry Hotel; I’ll definitely be coming back here.

Our destination was Altnaharra near the border between Sutherland and Caithness. Our route took us along the length of Loch Ness and gave us fantastic views of Cromarty Firth later too. And I know you’re wondering, did we encounter the Loch Ness monster? Yes we did; it was in the form of a 15% gradient climb that went on for around two miles. The sight of Norman and the Northgate van at the summit had never been such a welcome sight!

Despite all the climbs today (there were several tough ones) everyone remained pretty positive. In part, I think this was due to the scenery becoming so stunning as we picked up a minor road up to Altnaharra. The only way to describe the landscape up here is other worldly. It feels kind of like Spain, with the heather giving an arid rather than lush appearance. Then there are the mountains rising dramatically and independently, with huge bright blue lochs all around. It feels almost lunar in a way.

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We passed the Crask Inn and were cheered on by a group who set off from Land’s End on the same day as us, which was nice.

Duncan and John, as usual, got a bit competitive on the last stretch and put the hammer down while the rest of us took it easy and admired the deer grazing on the horizon as the sun set. Very cool.

It’s difficult to believe that anyone would miss out on this section and stick to the major roads following the coast out of Inverness. If you’re planning on doing this, don’t! You’ll miss one of the most memorable parts of the ride.

As we arrived at the hotel I tried out a new way of dismounting my bike, which basically entailed a dab on the front brake on a patch of gravel, toppling me on my arse for all to see. It got me off the bike, but I think I’ll stick with the traditional method going forwards!

We checked in to find the hotel packed out with the TVR Club on a rally. These were a good bunch who clearly intended enjoying their weekend away! They also chucked a fair bit of cash in our little purple sandcastle bucket from Cornwall too, so thanks for that.

We finished the day off with a couple of drinks and a hearty three course meal, before retiring, all excited to be finishing tomorrow.

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Until then…

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