Yes, lovely people, today we reached some interesting milestones. First off:
Yes, we hit the top of mainland Britain. It was a shame the weather had returned to a more gloomy affair after the unbridled excitement of yesterday’s wall to wall sunshine, but the roads were still nice and twisty – mostly single track – and the scenery that we could see through the gloom was still spectacular. The good thing about single track roads when your on the bike is that you don’t get held up. Most 4-wheelers are happy to wait for you in the passing places and the best ones even call you through when you’ve tucked in behind them so you can make the most of the road ahead. Lovely! Roads got a bit boring once you got over as far as Thurso (we have definitely been spoilt) and I think maybe signal what’s to come on the road back to Inverness but we’ll see.
Secondly, Nev went through the 2000 mile mark! I think we can safely say he’s run in. He’s going really nicely (probably shouldn’t have said that…) and I’m really enjoying riding him. All smiles there. Not such good news is the fact that I managed to break my Sena. Just came off in me hand guv. What a shame – means I can’t listen to Tim’s interesting commentary on the fauna and flora en route….!!! Actually, it is a bugger not being able to communicate and although we can easily revert back to old school hand signals and shouting, it’s not that easy to get messages over quickly and sometimes the moment has passed. Mind you, it has given 6 years of sterling service and has done some considerable miles around the UK, Europe and New Zealand so I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. Hopefully I can get a replacement just like Tim managed to in Germany back in 2015.
Interesting to see Dounreay power station on our travels (we thought of you EPM and felt sorry for you having to stay in Thurso matey!) and although it looked like it still employed a lot of people which is great for the local economy, at 2,000 people it’s quite significantly less than the 4,000 that were employed there before being decommissioned in 1994.
Also, although closed to the public at the moment, I was more than a bit surprised to see where the Castle of Mey was. Now I’m not about to do the usual American tourist thing (trust me I heard it many times when working for the NT) of wondering why it had been built so close to a nuclear power station…. no, I just meant that given all the amazing glens and lochs that had punctuated our trip that day, this stately residence seemed to be in a quite uninteresting (comparatively) place. Maybe being by the seaside, beside the sea, was good enough. Fair play.
Now, to the piece de resistance (not) that is John O’Groats. Living in Cornwall and having visited Lands End, I was sure no other significant geographical feature could be so cheaply and tackily put together. But NO!! It seems the first and last places are equally crappy. I was so disappointed. Thankfully there is one half decent cafe/eatery where we got some very lovely soup and a nice cuppa, or else I think it would have been a a bit of a damp squib. There was also a delightful local family close by who were fantastic company and great to talk to. The elderly and clearly sparkly gentleman of the group was particularly entertaining, but one of the younger guys (and by young I mean my age so not that young then) was from the family who were the last to leave the Isle of Stroma in the early 1970s. Apparently there was a Coast programme that interviewed his dad about being the last to leave so i must see if I can track the episode down.
Anyway, to finish off, here’s some photos of the beautiful area around Durness which for a one-day-only deal was bathed in sunshine for our visit lol! Back to Inverness tomorrow and then some whisky hunting and borders exploration before we start the long road home to Cornwall.