day 22 Tuesday 7th October

October 7, 2008 - Thurso, United Kingdom

Wick to John O'Groats, Dunnet Head, and Thurso, then finally onto Inverness - a very long day.

Decided to get to John O'Groats sooner rather than later today as I heard that there's not always someone there to stamp your card with date & time as proof of your visit - a long way to go so nice to have some proof, especially since this became a sponsored effort. As a result I passed up the chance to ride to Duncansby Head and to see Duncansby Stacks in the opposite direction for 3 miles riding into a very strong and gusty wind. I had thought I really should have gone the extra 3 miles (6 miles round trip) as you're only in the area once - but there is a train strike in Scotland and I will need to get home asap after completing this ride.

As predicted, it was difficult to find 'the book' to sign. 'The book' goes back a very long way and has the signatures of people who have completed the End-to-End challenge and some details of their epic journeys. The old hotel was closed and the touristy area didn't have a book. I found a book to sign futher back along the road - I had already passed this hotel a mile or so back. This hotel also had an official stamp so I stopped for a cuppa and filled in their book and had my documents stamped.  Sadly I was unable to look up when Barrie Clarke made the trip - this book didn't go back that far.

Nothing much to do here so after a few J O'G photo's I decided to ride on to Dunnet Head, the most northerly point on the mainland. Whilst this was a significant detour from my return route home, it was worthwhile. It is a very natural (unspoilt) area and very beautiful. I took several photo's there. Fantastic flaura / fauna - not sure which, probably both !

Met a couple riding around the coast of mainland brittain on motor cycles - that's quite an undertaking - must be almost impossible to find all of the coast roads - they admitted it was but just did their best.

I now continued to Thurso and onto Scrabster where I found the docks and from there I found the haulage companies and asked around - "can anyone get me back to London, or at least to Inverness?" - I had already bought a train ticket from Inverness to London.

Thurso to Inverness by juggernaut with the help of a friendly local haulage firm.

D Steven & Son, KW14 7UJ, Road Haulage Services »

Scrabster, Thurso, Caithness KW14 7UJ. Tel: 01847 892052. Specialists In Freight Haulage , Servicing The Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands & All OfThe South, ...
I was very lucky - the first haulage company I tried was D Steven & Son of Wick and of Thurso. Google search revealed the above contact details. This is a terriffic family owned and run company with many long-serving employees including a wonderful Wick man (he's from Wick !) who not only offered to take me to Glagow but also is a bit of a local historian. I opted to go just to Inverness, deciding it's quicker (Scottish train strikes allowing) to get the first train from Inverness on Thursday morning (I already had the ticket). It was a little wierd to see my single road bike on the back of a juggernaut, on it's own but I wasn't complaining. So the journey began, late ish Tuesday afternoon in the dark.
My driver (to my eternal shame I have not remembered his name) giving me a guided tour of his cab - all mod cons there. We plugged my mobile phone in to re-charge and we set off. He told me all about the local characters as we drove south down the A9 to where the A9 became the coast road south at Latheron and Dunbeath. I asked a few questions along the way but he kept me entertained as we drove over the hills around Helmsdale and all the way to Inverness. We stopped twice for about 45 minutes. First to pick up his load of slates, than much later for dinner at his regular stop-off. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone and their families. I was delighted to be able to pay as he was doing so much for me. He also had been working on some of his colleagues to obtain the location of a recomended B&B in Inverness for me. He eventually got the location and drove his enournous lorry right outside and knocked on the door for me. Super chap - despite the late hour they took me in and put my bike in their shed.  I honestly believe it would have been difficult for me to get a reasonably priced B&B at that hour and I really apreciate what he did for me.
There are times where I feel that I was a little fortunate on this trip and this was one such time. I Arrived at the B&B in Inverness around 10:30pm.

B&B hosts allowed me to stay the night and the next day and night even allowing me to use their computer for an hour or two - I loaded up some photographs to this blog but it's a slow process.


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