Days 18 and 19 – Dores to Lairg (Sat) and Lairg to Strathy Point

Are we the luckiest LEJOGers ever with weather? Overall possibly not, but I think we might well take first prize for Scottish weather fortune. Saturday and Sunday have yet again been days of constant beautiful sunshine. I would never have predicted scenarios such as Saturday afternoon, trying to complete the last few miles at 5.30pm already 50 miles north of Inverness just entering Sutherland – and the only weather complaint was that the sun was just a little too hot on the face.

Saturday was another big miles day – 75 in total. First to Inverness, then the Beauley Firth, Dingwall (great town) and Cromarty Firth before heading for Tain. Beautiful scenery all the way. We battled with the now familiar Scottish wind until Tain but we then headed in a north east direction to Lairg and the last 40km or so were greatly assisted by the strong easterly – useful since we were running rather late. We think we hit our speed record after Tain – 20km in under an hour.

Sunday morning we headed north from Lairg in the sunshine, a much easier day ahead. Popped in for tea at the Crask Inn early and then headed north on a mixture of A and B road – both single lane with passing places up here and generally very quiet. We met 3 other LEJOGers doing the jaunt in 10 days – but cycling a mere 1000 miles on A roads and with a Dad in support in a big estate car – wimps! – stephen and I carry all our own Lucozade and fruesli bars. We hit the beach at Bettyhill at about 2.30pm and decided to cart the bikes down a footpath for a spot of lunch on the breach. Absolutely idyllic conditions. We climbed high after Bettyhill for the final 20km – and hit that dreaded easterly again. Boy it was hard work, uncycleable in parts. B+B is very remote on a small peninsular, Strathy point. So remote we had dinner cooked for us by the proprietor while watching the sunset over the Pentland Firth – excellent.

So – 18 down 1 to go. We are about 40 miles from John o’Groats. We’re excited
but cautious also – we remember those setbacks in the first few days, in particular the half day lost with punctures at the outset. Do tune in tomorrow.