NORTH COAST 500 – DAY 6 – Durness to Thurso (70 miles)

‘It’s just cycling then cycling a little bit more.’

Day 6 – Durness to Thurso
70 miles
c.1700m climb
Headwind 20mph (pretty much all day!)
Saint Mark and Saint Peter to the rescue! (S**t, where is my water bottle!?)
Had a good nights sleep at Mackays Bunkhouse and chatted over brekkie with Stanley and Mark.  Then loaded bike (takes a while!) and off I went for another days adventure.
Headed out around 8:30 only to get 10 minutes along the road and discover I’d left my water bottles behind :-/! Having gone back to get them I carried on at a good lick for around 2 hours around the peninsula (really scenic) then up the big climb at Eriboll.
Who should pull up behind but my pal Mark from the bunkhouse. It transpired that he was going to Inverness and passing The Weavers Cafe at Tongue and he could take my bags there too – result! Saint Peter of Bettyhill (a friend of a friend) was arranged to meet me at Tongue to take bags to my friends place in Thurso and so this meant a half day with only 2 panniers!! With some big hills coming up, this was excellent news! :-).

There really is nothing for 30 miles between Durness and Tongue apart from spectacular scenery, incredibly beautiful but take your own snacks. I was busting for a wee for about 10 miles but nowhere to go….not even a few boulders or trees! It was a great relief to arrive at the Weavers – good cafe. Had tasty lunch there with my good friends, the rucksack boys, who had arrived earlier.

I continued towards Thurso alone, against massive headwind. Got to Armadale to find there was not much there and decided to check the route. As I surveyed my map (only to discover I was still MILES away) a lady came down the drive and asked me if I’d like a coffee! How brilliant! Her name was Netta and she gave me Easter eggs too. The kindness of strangers eh, so lovely.

Got to Melvich and popped into a pub there. Completely knackered so decided I’d better eat since it was nearing 6pm already. As I was heading out I bumped into rucksack boys again but needed to crack on after a quick chat.

Durness to THURSO 12

The next 20 miles were so hard (hardest ride I’ve done I think). Headwind was just full on the whole way, pushing me backwards. Could hardly get above 10kph at times, even on the flat. I sang songs, swore, thought of the Indy Pac racers #IPWR and looked at my front wheel a lot and eventually got to my friend Susies place around 9pm (11hrs after leaving Durness). Great to get there and I so appreciated a cosy place to stay – thanks Susie!
Legs achy (especially quads) and saddle sores are threatening to appear but okay so far!
Tomorrow I go down the cycle route instead of horrible A road from John o Groats. Much safer and a lovely road past rspb reserve.  That’s the plan anyway!

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