I’m writing this post from the van on the way home and I’m glad to say we’re all still in one piece and newly accomplished End 2 Enders!
It’s not been easy and I think we can all feel proud of ourselves. There were times during the last ten days when it has been 50/50 whether we’d all make it or not and I’m really pleased to be able to say that we have. We’ve had it tough at times, but we’ve also got some great memories. I think we’re already starting to forget the pain and it’s the memories of the good stuff and the sense of achievement that will last.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Altnaharra Hotel was packed out with the TVR Club, and there was only us, them and one other guest in the hotel. This made for a fitting start to our last day, as everyone knew what we were up to and came out to see us off. We even got a song (not a very creative one, but you can’t complain!).
The weather was amazing again, not a cloud in the sky and feeling around 20 degrees. We really have been blessed on this trip, with 9 days out of 10 being this way. Quite unbelievable for the time of year.
We rolled out at a gentle pace, expecting a relatively easy day with less mileage to cover than the previous several days. This carried on for the first 20 miles or so as we headed out towards the coast, taking a slightly longer route for better views, passing the impressive Ben Loyal and Ben Hope. To give you an idea of how remote this part of the country is, we only passed two cars in this whole time.
Despite our hopes for an easier day, morale quickly began to be sapped as we hit some big climbs on the undulating coastal road, made worse by a strong head wind. It became clear after a few miles that we were going to be stuck with this headwind for the rest of the trip and our final days riding was quickly becoming our hardest. We were spurned on by a couple of supportive toots on the horn as the TVR Club passed us again late in the afternoon though, so thanks again to those guys.
After having a welcome sandwich stop at Thurso, and after some gentle cajoling, we decided that we would stick an extra ten miles or so on the day and make a small diversion to Dunnets Head, mainland Britain’s most northerly point. After coming so close, I think we would have regretted not doing so. It was hard to divert though with the end so close in sight.
After a couple of photos and some cake we pressed on for the finish point.
Rolling in to JOG everyone was fairly quiet; I’m not sure if this was because we were feeling contemplative or if we were just completely spent. For saying we’d expected an easy day, it ended up being pretty brutal.
For me, I was thinking about all the miles we’d covered and everything we’d been through over the last 10 days, plus all the planning, that had lead up to this point. In a way it was a little sad, but in another much more significant way, it was a massive bloody relief to be finishing!
We were met at the finish line by Norman and a bottle of Champagne. JOG was pretty much deserted; the hotel is closed for refurbishment and, if I’m honest, it felt like a bit of an anti climax. But not to worry – we hadn’t finished yet! We had another 2 miles to do to Duncansby Head, the UK’s most north-easterly point.
I’m glad we convinced Jordan that the final two miles would be worth it, because Duncansby Head felt like the finish that such an epic trip deserved. We had a great view looking out over the Atlantic, with a glorious sunset to enjoy with the Champagne. If you’re finishing your trip in JOG, it really is worth the effort to come up here.
Glad to be finished and excited about waking up tomorrow and NOT having to get on the bikes, we loaded the van and headed back to the hotel for as many drinks as we could fit it before falling asleep (embarrassingly, this turned out to be 3).
There’s already been a lot of talk on the way back about what the next challenge will be and I’m not sure what we’ll go for, but I suspect cycling will be out of the question if Danny and Jordan are going to be involved (keep you’re eyes on EBay if you’re after a Trek or Ribble road bike with moderate mileage on the clock – I suspect a couple may be coming up in the next few weeks!).
For now though, it’s time to get home and look forward to a diet that doesn’t consist primarily of Go Bars (or, as John has delightfully come to call them, No Go Bars).
Thanks to everyone we know who has supported us and thanks to everyone we’ve met along the way too – it’s made it all worth while.
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Finally, good luck to all you other LEJOGers and JOGLER’s, I hope you all have great trips.
Adios for now.