Day Eleven The bikes spent the night in a typical stone outhouse and were ready to go straight out on to the main A9 road and a sign post ’55 miles to John O’Groats’. We’re on the home stretch now and not a moment to soon, I feel everyone is ready to get the job done.
Starting in the rain the road rises over brows of hills and then drops dramatically down to tiny ports at the mouths of rivers. One of the guests at last night’s lodgings warned of oily roads due to the cargo of fish being hauled along this route and it is evident that the large double length timber carriers of the last couple of days have given way to more compact (but still fast) lorries.
It is amazing how the light and conditions can change almost from moment to moment, bright sun becomes driving rain within no time at all.
After Wick the landscape flattens out and becomes wild with only the odd croft dotted amongst the bracken and heather. The upside of this – little but local traffic and looking around one can understand why, few people come here!
There is a last bête noir in the form of a long uphill pedal to the brow of the very last hill and from here the most amazing view out over the Pentlands Firth (very appropriate for me as I have connections with Pentland) due north to the island of Stroma in the foreground with Hoy and the other Orkney Isles in the distance.
It’s downhill all the way now. The boys wait for each other at this point and take their time cruising down together, savoring the reward that all their effort has given them.
We reflect on the many wondrous sights we have seen along the way, the many warm and friendly people we have met, the continuous support from those at home and what ‘digging deep’ teaches us about ourselves and how best we can put that to good use in the future.
The bleakness of John O’Groats seems not as inhospitable as Lands End with an information centre, shop, derelict hotel and welcoming café – but still the raging wind.
Having enjoyed the moment, a hot chocolate and another donation from a man celebrating his 2nd wedding anniversary who comes from Chesterfield, we set off down south.
We think the journey will be quick and easy but road works on the Black Isle delay us considerably and driving snow as we pass through the Cairngorms and Aviemore make us realise how lucky the boys were.
Scotland doesn’t want to lose us that easily and we get horribly lost around Glasgow eventually joining the M74 passing Abington were we were a few nights ago.
We eventually cross the border and leave Scotland some 8 hours after we started!!
We arrive at Bicester at approximately 4 a.m. and Graham has got us all home safely after such a mammoth journey.
The boys have raised in excess of £3,500 for the Captains charity, Helen Douglas House, which, having seen the effort it has taken I am enormously proud of.
But for me it was all about the camaraderie and being part of the team.
Thanks boys for letting us tag along and I hope you, the reader, have enjoyed this record.
Celebrations at John O' Groats
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