11. A Day of Magnificents *

LEJoG Day 11

This is our penultimate day and as we prepared to depart, to be truthful, with only 65 miles to do we were in good spirits.

However, the day started at 6am with this magnificent sunrise!

day11-sunrise

day-11-cakeWe then ran along the A9 for a while battling with the lorries and traffic. As a side note, across the whole trip, we have been really impressed with the respect that we have been shown by the vast majority of drivers on the road, especially professional drivers have been fantastic – sitting behind us patiently even when we are crawling up the hills and giving us loads of space when an opportunity to pass did arise. The only issues we’ve had have been with a very small number of car drivers who perhaps think that they own the road (but that’s a different debate).

Once we got off the A9, it was coffee & cake time. Our stop today was at the lovely Thyme & Plaice café in Helmsdale, and we savoured some great coffee and lashings of their Flapjack, Fruit Cake and lovely Lemon & Lime Drizzle Cake.

Fully charged, we then joined the A897.

day11-carsAnd then we stopped again almost immediately.

We had to acknowledge to 3 vintage vehicles in the garage of the lovely Agnes who was (luckily) quite happy for us to have a look.

Three magnificent classics that are lovely but clearly have done too much mileage and are well past their sell-by date!

We again joined the A897.

This is, quite simply, 38 miles of the most magnificent road you can imagine!

Single carriageway for most of the route, with plentiful passing points, the road follows the meanderings of the River Helmsdale all the way up the valley. Here is a selection of the many, many magnificent vistas that we enjoyed during this run.

day11-vista2

During this valley cruise, we were lucky enough to spot this magnificent stag hiding in the undergrowth in the left. What a beast!

day11-stag

Then on to lunch which was a brief and exposed experience.

day11-lunch

Then on we continued with a tailwind through what must be some of Scotland’s finest scenery.

img_1226

day11-forss2As we arrived at the junction of the A897 with the more major A836, we then saw our first glimpse of the ‘real’ North Sea. Not sure quite what that means but we were seeing the Orkneys in the distance (educational bit: the people here are known as Orcadians) and spied the desolate island of Hoy, where they apparently breed cyclists.

We then had a headwindy run along the coast and through the lovely village of Forss.

The ride was liberally coated with weather not knowing whether to rain or shine.

And so we have now arrived in Thurso!

We only have about 30 miles to go to get to John O’Groats and, to be frank, most of us can’t quite believe that we have made it!

Special day tomorrow!

*Just to be clear for the pedants among you (and you know who you are!) I do mean ‘magnificents’ and not magnificence – as I am talking about a plural of magnificent things!!

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Day 11 Synposis:day11-route

Distance: 65.9 miles

Time – Cycling: 4 hours 41 mins

Speed – Average: 14.1mph  Max: 32.0mph

Amount of climbing: 2,822ft

If you want to see a fly-through of our route (and some photos), click here: LEJoG Day 11 – Magnificent!

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