End of Route

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May 30th 2013
Published: May 30th 2013
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The northern coast apperars as we leave the idyllic Strath Naver valley. As we approach the end of the ride, Scotland continues to throw its weather at us. Wind is the dominating force everywhere and may be our strongest memory of Scotland. Wind turning huge wind generators lined on hills. Wind churning the waves to froth on the shore. Wind blowing handfuls of wool from sheep as they graze undisturbed in their pastures. Wind in our faces as we push the pedals to make it down a hill. Huge gusts of side wind that turn a down hill run into a test of skill. Wind driving sleet and rain into our faces. Wind that sucks the breath from our bodies and throws it back in our faces. And sometimes even wind at our backs sending us on our way. And just when you think you have Scotland figured out, there is something new around the corner. The fishing guide that we met said that the midges, the small mosquitoes notorious in northern Scotland, should be out in a week. "And then the wind will be your friend keeping them off of you."

We spend a day inching our way for 31 miles along the coast from Bettyhill to Thurso with constant head winds and side winds. This day is a milestone - our last day carrying our gear until we go to the Hebrides, over a week from now. In the morning, we leave our gear at our B&B and head out for the remaining 19 miles to John O'Groats. Scotland gives us the gift of good weather and little wind as we speed along to the signpost at the end of the road. We have big smiles on our faces as we ride four abreast to cross the "End of Route" sign marking the cycle route that we followed through much of Great Britain, completing the end to end portion of our ride. We rode 34 days and covered just over 1300 miles with 4 days off for sightseeing and two days holed up for bad weather. Along the way we celebrated numerous milestones but this is one we have long anticipated. We probably haven't set the record for the longest amount of time to complete an end end-to-end ride, but we are happy to have followed a scenic, winding route with lots of time to enjoy Great Britain.

At the end of the day we collect our gear and head to the ferry for the Orkney Islands. The ride is a beautiful introduction to a new part of Scotland with its own sense of identity. We will have six days there to relax and explore before we take a van south to Oban and then a ferry to the Outer Hebrides.

-- Kathy

Additional photos below
Photos: 5, Displayed: 5


Last Sustrans monument near John O'GroatsLast Sustrans monument near John O'Groats
Last Sustrans monument near John O'Groats

The right pointer says "land's End"; the left pointer says "Orkney and Shetland"

30th May 2013

The Clearances
Some years ago I read a book which may well have been titled The Highland Clearances. I don't think it papered anything over, including the removal of the roofs of the crofters' cottages, leaving the tenants with little choice other than accepting passage to Canada.
30th May 2013

Congrats on completing the "end to end" part of your trek! Not only are you folks great adventurers on bicycles, you all are great travel writers. It's been such fun "following" your blog.
4th June 2013

I enjoyed the stories. Doing 30 miles a day with a beer, scotch or whiskey to look forward to at the end of the day is the way to do it.
4th June 2013

Good on ya!!
Congratulations all of you for getting to the end of the road! Good on ya! Quite the accomplishment. All you've missed here is a bunch of rain and the grass growing and the kids growing like weeds. See you in a few weeks, Shannon and Grant
4th June 2013

Well done!
Congratulations on reaching the top (almost) of my homeland. I hope the weather is kind to you on the next leg of your adventure.

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