Friday, 20 May 2011

In my element

Elsie and Alastair (see yesterday's blog) invited me to stay for a second night. They kindly agreed to meet me at Thurso and take me back to their house. So today was a leisurely (and pannier-less) jaunt around the coast between Wick and Thurso, visiting no less than 15 harbours!

After a damp start it was a mainly sunny day, although the westerly wind was unrelenting. I got caught in a 'Mey Gob'. This is nothing to do with the dear old Queen Mum's notorious after-dinner habits, but according to the owner of the 'Tea Cosy' shop and cafe, it's a sudden sharp hail shower which is prevalent along this coast. For those who don't know, the Queen Mother used to love coming to the Castle of Mey, her favourite northern haunt.

I met three cyclists who were about to arrive at John O'Groats; they had a support car advertising a JustGiving site. They were raising money for the Meningitis Research Foundation, as I am. We had a good chat and although they had managed to do the route in just 12 days, were suitably impressed that I was going right around the coast.

It's strange, but as you near John O'Groats you seem to see more cyclists than anywhere else, all doing charity rides I suppose. One rider heading south on the A9 deliberately crossed over and stopped in front of me. He seemed very pleasant and was doing some amazing feats, including climbing the Three Peaks (Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike) as well as a return journey back to Lands End. All very fine until he told me that he'd already seen three angels on his trip. 'I'm a Christian' he said, and promptly held out his hand, Jesus style, and prayed for my safety, despite my protestations. Still, if it made him feel happier.

John O'Groats is nothing to write home about. A photographer who wants to take your photo in front of the famous signpost. A gift shop and a harbour. There's also a pub at the top of the hill, where I enjoyed a pint of Scapa real ale, my only link with Orkney, which of course was visible across the white horses of the Pentland Firth. The area is very bleak, with little habitation. But as soon as you turn left and continue a few miles, the scenery improves.

The last ten miles into Thurso were tough, with busy Friday evening traffic paying little attention to a cyclist who was struggling into the headwind. I arrived at Thurso a few minutes late but enjoyed my second bath in two days back at the Frasers'.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bob, Team Monday (Trudy, Karl, Bob and driver Pete were very pleased to have met you just outside John O'Groats and wish you all the best with your marathon cycle trip.

    We're all safely back in Bristol now and don't envy you with all the rubbush weather that you've had this week.

    Take care out there!

    Pete & Trudy