Thursday 12th June 2014
I took my van over to Caroline’s house with Allison to get all of Caroline, Dani’s, Andy and Graham B luggage and bikes in the van. What would we have done without our expert packer Allison. We would have definitely left my bike behind. We had to take Dani’s and Andy’s front wheels off and hang the bikes from the rails either side. Caroline tandem trike went in next, then graham B’s, then my bike. Everything else was fitted in around that. I went home then and packed our bags.
Friday 13th July 2014
Graham arrived home from work at just after 12am. We were already packed so Graham had a quick change clothes and we set off. We stopped at Ferndown McDonalds and had something to eat. We left there at 2am. We drove then, stopping to change driver and for coffee, until we got to Carrbridge. We booked into a B and B, had fish and chips on the village green under an umbrella in the rain, then went to bed.
Saturday 14th June 2014
I was up at 6am. Had shower and got dressed when Caroline rang to ask where we were. They were in Aviemore which was the next village, so came to us, used our loo and we all went and had breakfast. Us in the B and B them in a café down the road. We met a lovely American couple who were on a cycling holiday too and were so impressed with what we were doing.
After breakfast we all headed off to Inverness. They took the car back to the airport, then we all met for coffee. Brought some things in Inverness. We headed off then for John O’Groats. Again we stopped at various places along the way but the scenery was beautiful.
Met up with Caroline and others and had tea in a café at John O’Groats. All very excited and can’t wait to get on with it now. Booked into B and B, got the van unpacked and bikes sorted, then went to bed.
Sunday 15th June.
Had had breakfast by 8am this morning. We rode from the B and B to point first thing to get our photos done. Met a girl from an organisation from John O’Groats and Lands’ End. She took some photos and said she would put them on her website and she will also let the same company at Lands’ End know we are coming.
As we started Caroline stopped quickly and Danni rode into the back of her bike and nearly fell off. Quite a start.
We left there at 9 O clock. I was cycling with them to start with. Graham was driving. He stopped in laybys along the way. I did 7.84 miles then Graham took over and I drove. In Wick I stopped at Tesco’s and got money and brought lunch. They all carried on and then I caught up outside Wick and we had lunch with a cup of tea. After lunch Graham and I changed again so I was on the bike.
I can’t remember when this happened but Caroline stopped quickly again and we didn’t hear her say she was stopping. Andy nearly went into the back of Caroline, I nearly went into the back of Andy and Danni fell off. It just reminded us all to be careful. From then on we decided to break up a bit and not sit on each other’s tails. Also it wasn’t fair for Caroline for us to all sit behind her. From then on we went in twos (except dad who wanted to be the winner).
I had gone on in the van and found the B and B at Dunbeath. I was checking in when the B and B owner said I have just seen a cyclist go by is that one of yours. I said no, no. They would know to stop. When the others arrived we realised it was Graham. He went down one of the biggest hills of the cycle ride and realised at the bottom and had to struggle back up. We did laugh.
We are going to the pub tonight just a walk away.
Even that turned out to be eventful. First they said they couldn’t fit us in as it was father’s day. They said if we would like to wait in the bar they might be able to fit us in later. We had nowhere else to go to eat so decided to stay. After about half an hour playing cards (gas board fives of course) they took our order and decided to seat us at a table and brought dinner quite quickly. Then just after that the people started to come in that had booked, they had a power cut and had to turn some people away. We were really lucky and it was lovely. For the 1st days cycling we all thought it was going really well and were all very pleased with ourselves. We then went to bed.
Monday 16th June
We were up bright and early this morning at 7 O Clock for breakfast, as this was going to be a long day. We had to go to Cromarty, which was over a very small ferry. The last ferry went at 6.15pm. The journey today was about 61 miles.
The first couple of hills were enormous. Caroline started on her single trike and was doing really well. Graham also started on our bike. I went to get lunch and drinks and cereal bars in Helmsdale. Dani fell off her bike again and her chain came off on one of the big hills. She was ok and didn’t hurt herself. Caroline was thrilled as she reached me before the others. I made a cup of tea in a lay by and had our cereal bars. I took over from Graham at this point on our bike.
By now Caroline’s battery was going down fast with all the hills. We stopped in Brora and had a cup of tea in a café just so she could charge her battery a bit. Graham changed to bike again and off they went. We were under pressure now with the ferry. We still had quite a few miles to go, I think 33 miles, and it was about 2 O clock.
It was getting less hilly now but the scenery was beautiful. By now Caroline’s battery was nearly out Knowing they still had quite a long way to go, Caroline and Andy decided on the tandem as they would be able to go faster.
Just before Tain our battery ran out on our bike so we got our bike in the back of the van and caught up with the others on B9176, which was the little road that goes to the ferry. By now we had half an hour to go for the last ferry and still 7 miles to go. We went to the ferry in the van. The ferry was in when we arrived at 5.45pm. It set off and we were willing them to get there. We could see Cromarty so close but so far if we had missed the ferry. We watched the ferry go across the water. As it was half way back Caroline, Andy and Dani appeared with lots of shouting and arms in the air. I don’t think any of us believed they did that, with so little time to spare. It would not have been a complete disaster as we would have just gone round but another 35 miles would have been so demoralising. The ferry ride was great, only took 10 mins.
We are staying to night at the Cromarty Arms. It is very old fashioned but comfortable, clean beds and bathroom and good food. What more could we want. And good food.
We all went to bed early.
Tuesday 17th June
Today we only have about 30 miles to Inverness. We were able to have a lay in this morning and they have a treat planed. We are going for a trip around the harbour in a boat to see the dolphins. It’s now 8.30 and Graham and I are waiting for breakfast at 9 O clock.
We have had breakfast, which was good. We have even been on the boat trip. That was great. The North Sea was so calm. We saw a whole school of dolphins and a lot of sea birds. We had a drink at a local hotel, then set off.
We had hardly left the town when I fell off my bike. Luckily onto a soft patch of grass. That made everyone else’s day and it was about my turn. We only had 23 miles today. Caroline and Andy were on the tandem. There were some quite big hills so it was very hard for them.
At one stage we were waving to a lady her garden when a fertilizer tractor went by in a field. We all felt as if we were being pelted with little stones.
Graham and I swapped half way which meant I would be driving into Inverness. I’m not good with towns and my Sat Nav was going mad as there were road works. It was not a good time for me and I had a little panic attack but after I had been to the loo and had a Costa I felt fine. Graham did have to come and collect me otherwise I would never found them. We decided Graham would be in the van in towns. Having said that, I might be worse on a bike. Our B and B tonight in Inverness is lovely and the lady is really nice and helpful. We have had our tea in her garden. Tonight was Chinese and it was a lovely evening.