Thursday May 7, 2015. Day 24
Bettyhill to John O’Groats: 80km
We awoke to hear rain against our window, a howling west wind and the sight of huge North Atlantic breakers. The favourable weather forecast (which we had checked at least 16 times to confirm) seemed to have failed us, but then the rain ended and a small patch of blue sky appeared! Miraculously, with the exception of one short hail shower, the sun was out for most of the rest of the day, and the chilly wind was at our backs. Whenever the road turned north, the gusts were so strong that it was difficult to stay upright. At one point, Paul was pushed almost to the centre of the road.
Out of Bettyhill, there were four stiff hills, but then the terrain was undulating, as we sped along the spectacular north coast, so amazing to see clearly on this last day. At one point, the NCN #1 veered off to the south, but we decided to stay on the A836. We soon realized that the #1 was avoiding the Dounreay nuclear facility, which dominated the coast for a time.
Before we knew it, we were in Thurso, where we dropped our panniers at the B&B, had a quick lunch, and then headed off on the final 30 kms. With the wind still at our backs, and without the weight of our panniers, we literally flew, adding to the exhilaration of nearing our goal.
As we cheered our arrival in front of the well-photographed mileage sign at John O’Groats, Sarah appeared to congratulate us and take our photos. She had arrived earlier and was having tea in a nearby cafe with another cyclist, Steve, who had also just completed the LEJOG. Sarah was riding to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research. We joined them and shared stories until Steve’s parents arrived from Newcastle and our mini-van taxi arrived to take us back to Thurso.
It took almost a couple of hours to pack up our bikes (with the aid of a YouTube video) and we got to the Red Pepper Bistro just before closing.
Land’s End to John O’Groats by car: 1348km
Our route, by bicycle: 1442km