A great southerly blow has helped me to reach Wick this evening, just a short hop from John O'Groats, where I will turn left along the North Coast. I had been warned about the Berriedale Braes, two severe hills on the A9, down first then up, both at 13%. With the wind behind me, I just managed to climb it.
The day started with a wonderful drive along Loch Fleet. With an early start and the sun still low, it offered many photographic opportunities. Unfortunately I didn't dare spend too much time there, as it would be a 70-mile ride today.
Traffic on the A9 could have been a problem, but the road wasn't too busy. I wouldn't have liked to try it in July, though, with all the holiday traffic. Several lorries passed rather close, but overall the road wasn't as scary as I thought it might be. There's no alternative route if you want to keep to the coast.
I had received a wonderful offer of accommodation, near Wick. I met Elsie Fraser on the outskirts of the town and she drove me to her house, where I was welcomed by her husband Alastair and son Euan. After a bath I joined the family for an excellent meal. All my dirty clothes have been washed and dried, so I'll be OK for a few days of camping. Tomorrow Elsie will drop me back in Wick, where she works as a teacher at a primary school.
Every day I find that I'm always hungry. Even after a large bowl of porridge, I'm into Mars and Twix bars by 10.00. Lunch, whether a roll or at a pub, usually comes early, and by mid-afternoon I'm famished again. I guess I'm using up a lot of energy and need to replace the calories somehow. Probably too much junk food, but it doesn't seem to be doing me any harm. On the scales this evening I'm 12 stone 5, which is under 80Kg. I didn't bring a belt (to save weight) but I will need one if I carry on like this. I'd love to get down to 12 stone again, for the first time for more than 25 years.
As mentioned before, I'm not going over to Orkney tomorrow. That should put me back on the original schedule.