Durness to Thurso

Ade climbs towards TongueWell we weren’t actually wild camping last night but it felt like it! Strong wind and rain put our tents to a good test but a flapping tent makes sleep difficult even if it does drown out the snorers!

It hasn’t improved by the time we get up at 7am. We’re not leaving early but there’s just no point lying in a thrashing tent and wishing you were somewhere else.

The breakfast bar opens as 7:30 so it’s bacon butties all round. There’s isn’t even outdoor seating so the lads huddle in group casting envious glances over at the campervan with all it’s mod cons. Me, I sit in the van and eat mine, perk of the job, right?

There’s no sign of improvent in the weather when it’s time to pack up and get ready for the ride so we just have to grin and bear it, get soaked and get the job done.

But as we set off at 9:30 the rain stops and the sun comes out. WTF! Sods law again!

We push on to Tongue, our first rendevous, over familiar terrain, narrow roads with passing points with both large and small climbs and descents

I’ve become quite the expert at passing point etiquette by now. You pull over into the passing point to let ongoing drivers through or…they do it and let you through. Then of course you have to acknowledge the favour and they do yours…

This ranges from a simple lifting of a finger or a hand to a wave or thumbs up, right up to a full american salute depending on the circumstances…

(Transgressions get either one or two fingers.)

So, as I’m in a white van people assume I must be a worker and therefore a local (and probably big and hairy) so I can just batter through scattering cars left and right, waving and saluting as the mood takes me!

Anyway…we get to Tongue in good time for snacks but Johnny doesn’t get the message in time and pushes on past. So after a break I leave and catch him up and make sure he’s sorted for water, etc.

I then push on towards Melvich knowing that Kerr in the campervan can take care of the rearguard…

Everyone arrives at Melvich as expected but where’s Johnny. Kerr hasn’t passed him, none of the other riders have passed him and he was ahead by a distance because he hadn’t stopped at Tongue…

We always have a where’s Johnny moment on these trips! Turns out he’d stopped at an off road cafe in Bettyhill so no-one spotted him as they went past.

One big thing to note in Melvich was Coxy had a mechanical! This is rare…and he wasn’t able to fix it properly due to a worn screw that will need replacing. Will it affect his performance in tomorrow’s Donkey Derby to John O’Groats?… we shall see…

All arrived safely now in Thurso so we’ll be hitting the town soon… until 10:30 anyway!

Paul on the bridge at Tongue

Rozza at Tongue

Chucky and Rozza on route to Tongue

Coxy leads the climbers out of Durness

Johnny heads for Tongue