Sunday, 15 June 2008
Day 14: Bettyhill to John O'Groats (50 miles) and Wick (17 miles)
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Today's route took us from Bettyhill along the A836 to Thurso and then to John O'Groats. Although it ran parallel to the coast, for most of the time we were about two miles from the sea and only saw it from time to time.
The weather had promised yet more rain, but apart from a shower whilst we were having breakfast, and a few spots later in the day, we stayed dry for the whole time. It was mostly cloudy but with periodic outbreaks of sunshine. It remained quite windy, but the NNW wind was much less of a problem today, partly because of the shelter provided by the low hills north of the A836 and partly because we were now travelling east, meaning that there was a resolved component of wind behind us.
The improved weather, the quiet and scenic road and our general excitement at having the end in sight made today's ride one of the most enjoyable of the trip. We faced a few steep climbs and descents for the first ten miles or so but then the landscape flattened out and there were few hills for the remainder of the day.
After about 20 miles we passed Dounreay nuclear power station, which according to signs is being decommissioned. We called in, hoping to find a coffee at the visitor centre, but a helpful policeman informed us that the old one had been closed and a new one had not yet been opened. So we cycled on and had a combined coffee stop and lunch stop at a pub in Thurso, about 30 miles from Bettyhill.
For the remaining 20 miles to John O'Groats excitement (and a bit of a tailwind) kicked in and Mick set a cracking pace for most of the way, with Nigel and Averil hanging on behind. When we reached the gates of Mey castle, with about six miles left to JOG, we stopped and waited for the others to catch up.
After a short while we arrived at John O'Groats. Like Land's End this place exists mainly for the tourists but didn't appear to be the tacky tourist trap that Land's End has become. In any case it had all we needed: a signpost to pose for photos in front of (see previous post), and a cafe where we could relax with a coffee whilst phoning family and friends to tell them of our achievement.
We then left John O'Groats and headed south along the A99 for the 17 almost level miles to Wick. We now had the wind completely behind us and made short work of this final leg of our trip. On arrival in Wick we checked into the Queen's Hotel just south of the town centre.
Vital statistics (Bettyhill to JOG): Distance: 50 miles. Average speed: 13.2 mph. Total distance from Land's End to John O'Groats: 969 miles.
Vital statistics (Bettyhill to Wick): Distance: 67 miles. Average speed: 13.8 mph. Total distance from Land's End: 986 miles.
Tomorrow: The journey home
Posted by Nigel at 17:28