Thursday 27 August 2015

Day 12 – Into the Big Country

Breakfast this morning was an entirely different experience to yesterday. The was lots of chatter and banter. Jokes and bravado as the ‘Lecht experience’ was recounted. Everyone agreed that each of us had left and each of us had taken something from the experience. For me, the climb will always remain as a place that I faced and overcame my demons – with a little help from my friends.

We eased out of Conon Bridge on full stomachs and we hardly noticed the first few gentle climbs. I had the somewhat unique experience of the Dingwall lollipop lady stepping into the road at a junction to stop the traffic and let me through. Back at home in Stanton the lollipop lady unusually takes great delight in stopping me!

Gradually as we rode northwards the countryside opened up and the spectacular Dornoch Firth appeared in front of us. The scenery was spectacular but the best was yet to come. We picked our way along the valley of the beautiful River Shin as far a Lairg where the land opened up on a scale I have never seen elsewhere in Britain. The sheer scale of the landscape almost defies description. Huge sweeping peat and heather moors encompassed by distant mountain ranges made me feel totally insignificant. The good weather meant the views were outstanding.

Gradually we approached the Crask Inn where we stopped for the traditional travellers swift half and a top up at Ray’s Diner. Our halt coincided with a torrential rainstorm so we stayed at the Inn rather longer than intended.

Once the rain had cleared we sped off northwards and amazingly the views got better and better. I took the opportunity to increase the pace a tad and sped off the front of the group to enjoy some of the best riding I have ever experienced along the side of Loch Loyal. All too soon the final climb was upon us and then we swooped down into Tongue – our overnight halt.

I certainly hope to return and ride here again. This has to be one of the best parts of Britain, if not THE very best. For any readers who haven't been here before I can't recommend a visit too highly!

Miles today 79
Total miles from Land’s End  935 (+ 17)
Miles to John O’Groats  51

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