Lejog

Day 20: Tongue to John O Groats

Miles travelled: 66

Metres climbed: 1175

So, contrary to Alice’s promise, it was NOT “all down hill to John O Groats”! The day started with some of the toughest climbs we’ve had since Dartmoor!! image

But the views were stunning (pictures to follow…)

By the time we reached Melvich we were all lagging slightly, but after a great soup and toffee apple muffin (highly recommended!) at the Halladale Inn, we were revived and happily the road did begin to flatten out a little :).

We went on through Thurso and the beautiful Dunnet bay… 

 We then had a quick coffee in Castletown, which the lovely Laura at the Castletown hotel refused to let us pay for 🙂

And it was just another 16 miles into quite a strong headwind before we finally made it to John O Groats!

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We have all been so touched and grateful for all the support and kindness we’ve received from friends and strangers alike… It’s still hard to believe that we’ve actually made it! Maybe it will feel more real after our “little swim” as Alice calls it… 

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Day 19: Dornoch to Tongue

Miles travelled: 65

Metres climbed: 714

Midge attacks: only one, but it lasted all afternoon!

Today was our latest start, but we were so stuffed from last nights dinner and porridge for breakfast that we made speedy progress. (Actually Alice was especially well fueled after eating more than 20 dried apricots and a few prunes… I’m not quite sure what she was thinking, but she quite quickly regretted it!)

The morning up to Crask was the wildest place we’d been so far. Actually it felt like a bit of a wasteland,  which became a steady incline for the last fifteen or so miles which felt like hard work… 

 But we made good time and reached the legendary Crask Inn before 2pm… Where we had a yummy lentil soup (great for Alice’s tummy – it was a perfect complement to the bucket of dried fruit she had for breakfast!)

Mummy decided (having heard that Tongue was beautiful) that we should push on so that we could spend the night there instead… It was only about a 30 mile detour, but as midges had descended in Crask we were all happy to get going! We sped away into Strathnaver and through some of the most stunning scenery, (with a couple of big climbs…) but sadly there were too many midges for us to fully appreciate it…

We eventually reached Tongue at dusk and luckily found somewhere to stay. We felt like we’d almost made it as we are now on the northern coast of Scotland! It actually seems a little hard to believe!! Especially as Alice seems to think “it’s all down hill to John O’Groats”!!

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Day 16: Fort Augustus to Inverness

Miles travelled: 37

Metres Climbed: 750

Cheers from passing drivers: too many to count… (Presumably because only crazy people try and cycle hills like this with all our gear! ;))

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On the advice of the charming Natalie (our extremely generous hostess at the Kettle House B&B in Fort Augustus) we opted for the South Side of Loch Ness. She said that we shouldn’t be put off by the “Wee hill” at the start as what goes up must come down. Clearly “wee” is not a word that can be easily translated… Her “wee hill” last 4 miles, and was without any respite every bit as steep as Dartmoor! It took us nearly an hour, buckets of sweat, and over 600 calories to climb… Let’s just say I regretted my pre-breakfast run almost immediately (i’d been told today was an easy day ;))

Although it was Mummy’s decision (with maybe a little subtle manipulation from Alice), I think she thought we were trying to finish her off!

On the plus side, the sun was shining and we had the best views of the trip so far! Glen Mor was majestic, the Scotland we had always dreamed of! When we FINALLY reached the final summit, we met a group of guys cycling the other way… (But these strapping young men were carrying nothing and had both a support truck and carbon bikes!!) they reassured Mummy that we had a nice downhill run back to the lake 🙂

When we reached Dores, we had a quick dip in Loch Ness, (one of the things on our ‘must do’ list) sadly Nessie was nowhere to be seen… But there were plenty of ducks to keep us company!!

The Dores Inn gave us the best chicken burger ever!!

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And we set off fully fuelled for the final few miles to Inverness… Very Happy to have had what was probably the best day of the trip so far!!! And Alice’s favourite view…

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Day 15: Glen Coe to Fort Augustus

Miles travelled: 53

Metres climbed: 384

Near misses: 2

We set off at a speedy pace hoping to keep Mummy warm after yesterday, which seemed to work! (Apparently you have to work hardest at the back – even though Alice and I have been taking a the headwind :))

After a quick coffee in Fort William we popped into Inverlochy Castle for a comfort break (unlike Mummy and me Alice is unable to use the bushes and needs a five star toilet to relieve herself on route ;)) It was a stunning setting though so we were glad to see it 🙂

We then stopped for a snack overlooking Loch Lochy… After I nearly fell into a pot hole the size of Oxford, but was rescued by a soft verge and nearby fence 🙂 Then for a few brief moments the sun broke through revealing the splendid scenery 🙂

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We were touched to receive two spontaneous donations… From Alice Forest,  Sheila Waters and Lyndsay the waitress… Perhaps an indication of how shattered we were looking 😉 Mummy was so hungry we had to supplement our snack with some of the chocolate Cordelia gave us a few days ago!!

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We then pushed on alongside the loch to Fort Augustus… When it wasn’t raining the view was mesmering 🙂

But after the drama of yesterday, and mummy nearly falling off her bike when her coat got caught in her rear wheel we were very relieved to reach Fort Augustus and the legendary Loch Ness in one piece!!

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Day 14: Loch Lomond to Glen Coe

Miles travelled: 54

Metres climbed: 760

Hours of torrential rain, wind and hail: 8

So far our experience of Scotland is that it is every bit as bleak as it is beautiful! The scenery certainly is stunning, it’s just that today we only got to glimpse it through sheets of rain and fog. Apparently the “real feel” temperature today was 2 degrees C, which was definitely a little colder than we’d planned for…

Today at was all about the stops! We planned our route around places where we could shelter from the elements… The first was the atmospheric Drovers Arms for the best coffee of the trip..

Then after a few more soggy hours we stopped at Tyndrum to defrost and refuel… The Real Food Cafe was fantastic – definitely set us up for the afternoon ahead 🙂 I certainly would like the recipe for their Lime Courgette Cake…

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Glen Coe didn’t seem as big a climb as we’d expected, but that was partly because we couldn’t see all that much… Nevertheless it was very satisfying to know that we have reached the Highlands and crossed Rannoch Moor…

It was colder than we’d realised and Mummy was almost hypothermic by the time we reached the Clachaig Inn and my feet were almost frostbitten (sorry for the gross picture!) 😦

image Fortunately a hit shower and a hearty dinner left us all feeling much better!!!

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Day 13: East Kilbride to Loch Lomond

Miles travelled: 45 metres climbed: not many… Weirdly, despite being a pretty short flat day, we all were struggling a but today… Maybe it was the after effects of our bumpy ride yesterday… And I suppose that navigating Glasgow made things a bit more interesting! imagewe stopped at Clarkston Cycle Centre to see if anything did need tightening on our bikes (which apparently it didn’t :)) but mummy did need a new tyre… In fact her inner tube was basically poking out – the guy in the shop couldn’t believe we hadn’t noticed! Oops!! Alice navigated excellently through Glasgow and we eventually found our way onto a cycle path that was actually signposted to Loch Lomond… image The path wasn’t as great as it looked, but was lovely in places…

After 35 miles we were all flagging, but were revived by a MASSIVE lunch alongside the loch… We considered accelerating things by flying the last few hundred miles…

But the plane seemed to be heavily guarded by swans so we got back on our bikes for the last 10 miles along side the loch and then had a quick swim before dinner and bed!! image image Unfortunately we did get a chance to try a deep fried mars bar… Not something I’ll ever be doing again!! Utterly gross is really the only way to describe it!! image

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Day 12: Moffat to East Kilbride

Miles travelled: 57

Metres climbed: 760

exploding tyres: one!

I was sad to leave Moffat – it was the quirkiest place we’ve visited, with lots of cute shops and yummy looking bakeries…

I was even more sad when I realised that the road we were following all day was so bumpy we felt like we were cycling uphill on a power plate!!! The scenery was awesome, but we were concentrating so hard on staying on our bikes that we hardly had a chance to see it…

We eventually made it to Lesmahagow and found the most amazing tea place… Abbeys on the Green felt like an oasis in a desert!! Spotless, yummy and friendly…

While we were recharging our batteries we met another trio of girls cycling end to end the other way! They raved about Scotland and re-assured us that the roads improved 🙂 yay! They did mention something about having to tighten their bikes all the time… Can’t say I knew what they were talking about!! Hope it’s not too important! image

We are, however, getting quicker at replacing inner tubes… Luckily! Mummy had a blow out shortly after lunch 😦 it was a bit scary – sounded like a gunshot, but fortunately she was fine and the bike was repaired pretty quickly!!

We pushed quickly in to East Kilbride and after a minor detour to avoid a closed road we made it to the farm where we were staying, which had a very cool swing, so Alice was happy! 🙂

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Day 3: Tavistock to Moretonhampstead

Miles travelled: 28
Metres climbed: 800
Emergency snacks: chocolate nak’d bar

We’d planned a shorter day today as we knew we’d all be struggling with the hilly terrain and Alice wanted us to experience the FULL beauty of Dartmoor! It turned out to be lucky as we were all low on energy today and Mummy especially wasn’t feeling her best…

We set off in high spirits after a fantastic night at Claudine and Bills… They couldn’t have been better hosts and we feel so lucky to have met them!

imageAs promised Alice then set out to show us the full extent of Dartmoor… which was breath-taking despite the inclement weather…imageimage

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Even the ponies were friendly 🙂

But Mummy had her first low point of the trip… clearly she needs to adopt our ‘healthy’ diet of mars bars, jelly babies and coffee 😉 but it was nothing a chocolate nak’d bar couldn’t fix!

I think she’s learnt her lesson as she certainly didn’t skimp on the bread and pudding at dinner tonight! Let’s hope 70 miles tomorrow isn’t too much for us all…

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Day 2: Cubert to Tavistock

Miles travelled: 56 (involving large detours to avoid the A30)
Metres climbed: 1490
Emergency treats: entire bag of Jelly Babies, mars bar, 2 gel sachets, 6 large chocolate cookies, 4 bananas.

Three hours of up the biggest hills we’ve ever seen in the cloudy drizzle left us feeling eager for more so we did the last one twice!! (You can imagine how popular the navigator was!!)

We actually hit a bit of a low point just before Liskeard, but an entire bag of jelly babies and mars bar perked us up! We also got a yummy freecappuccino in Bugle (courtesy of the Bugle Inn :))
After sandwiches in Dobwalls the day perked up greatly… The sky cleared and the views were spectacular 🙂

We stayed as guests at the gorgeous Wonwood Barton, which was a little tricky to find, but we were greated by Claudine and Bill who made us feel immediately at home! They gave us hot showers, the best fish pie ever, yummy wine and entertained us all evening with their own cycling adventures!!

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Land’s End to Cubert… Hello Hills!!

Miles travelled: 54 (we’d mapped 47, so not quite sure what happened there!)
Metres climbed: 1174
Nak’d bars eaten: 1 Strawberry Crunch 🙂image

We are so happy to have made it to Cubert 🙂

Not realising quite what we were in for we decided to take the coastal route from Lands End. The scenery was more stunning than we could possibly have imagined, but the hills were… RELENTLESS! IMG_3082

The Hells Mouth Café was a life saver!!

The sea was almost always in sight 🙂

Here’s hoping tomorrow is flatter!!

 

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