Saturday, 28 September 2013

Day 1 - John O'Groats to Tongue via Dunnets Head

We arrived at John O'Groats early in the morning after a really tiring drive up, I haven't had much slip and poor Jazzy and Bill are very tired.  We had breakfast in the "cafe", it's just a portakabin but the owner known locally as "chef", is amazing.  He is from Manchester and made us feel really welcome, and his breakfast was as welcoming as he was:  Sausauge Square, bacon, black pudding, haggis, beans, two eggs etc..  and great coffee.

In the background Porpoises were swimming HONEST!

The Boomerang Challenge 

Off she goes

The obligatory photo

The obligatory photo part two

The Ferry

Looking back at the Hotel, is it me or does it look
sponsored by united colours of Bennaton...  talk about
out of place

thou shalt have a fishy.. or a crab or a lobster 

somewhere out there were porpoises

We had a nice surprise, there were some porpoise playing in the harbour, a good start to the trip.  After assembling the bike and packing my gear, we took some photos at the sign.  Incidentally, the original sign has gone nearby to a caravan park.  The lease for the site went to someoene else and they put up a free sign.  Probably divided opinion on this one but I think the sign should be free, now it is so I am happy.

The weather was calm but very grey and overcast, the wonderful thing is it stayed that way all day.  I passed a leathery scotswoman on a hill early on and she exclaimed "it's mild isn't it I have too much on", don't take it off on my account please!

As you travel through the coast one of the things that strikes you is the number of maritime churches and graveyards, these pictures are of Canisbay, and typical of the type I saw on my way along the A836.

Typical, they offer soup and sweet lunches and they are closed
when I arrive... No room at the in "im an athiest and they missed a
chance to convert me, I guess I will remain godless.

Surrounded by graves, sombre but an important function
for the locals

Moving on, it looks lonely on it's own

After Canisbay I headed out to Mey Castle, this wasn't intended, I know it's a lot of detours, but this trip isn't about "A to B" as fast as I can.  Mey castle was small but well kept here's some pics:

yet again no teashop open for me, im sensing a conspiracy

Mey Castle

Still feeling good

View from the front

Just about to leave without tea or biscuits

My first major destination was Dunnet head, popular myth has it that John O'Groats is the most northerly point of the country, but in fact it's Dunnet Head.  It was worth it.I would not have felt right about this trip had I not visited the most northerly point, this was a 12.1 mile detour but worth it.

A view of the coast on the climb up to Dunnet Head

More of the same coast!

Heading Straight On
The Picture says it all


Lighthouse History, built by Robert Louis Stephenson
Treasure Island authour.

The lighthouse

a dog called beauty, owned by the sole occupant of
Dunnet Head

 It was a tough old day, I left Dunnet Head and passed into Sunderland, it was a tough slog with a lot of big hills it wasn't raining but the day was damp:

You are now in Sunderland

Apparently Sunderland is Mackay Country
 I amused myself with wondering about the Mackays, I envisioned hundreds of variously endowed mad Scotsman with nothing up their kilts but their bare buttocks etc.. charging around with claymores, or some sort of whiskey drinking Aberdeen Angus breed that picks fights with any cyclist it sees and stamps it's ownership on them and their bike.  As it turns out the Mackay are a clan and just as tough as my ideas, they are steeped in history as a brief search in google will show you.  After reading some of their exploits I will take my chances outrunning the hairy cows (my sisters term for Aberdeen Angus which she adores).  Hmm I must get some good pics of hairy cows for her.

A lonely stretch of water somwhere on the way to Tongue
You have heard of the generosity of the Scots, well I had a real "taste" of it today in more ways than one,  as I cycled on my way to Tongue I asked a local in a large house who was busy cleaning his Boat called "BOB THE BOAT"  if I could top up my water bottles (do this as often as possible).  He was happy to oblige, and then offered me some of his days catch which was a beautiful fresh cod which he filleted.  The first one he offered me was massive, then he said actually that will be to big for you and gave me a more sensible yet still sizeable one.  I have to admit the big one would have been eaten trust me us Newts love fish :-)

Bob The Boat, his owner the purveyor of free fresh fish
true Scottish Generosity

In case you are bored of pictures here's some videos I took towards the end of the day:

To be continued..... when I have downloaded the pics from my camera and finished uploading them :-)


  1. Looks like a good start mate. It's all downhill now then...

  2. Go Ren, Go man hope your Ok and your tyres remain pumped up.......


    1. Cheers Berny :-) tell them that, too many punctures lol

  3. Hope it all carries on as well as you've started! I shall enjoy reading more about your epic journey and seeing photos too :-)) Happy pedalling! Lorna.

  4. Nice one mate. Very inspiring. What a time you must be having, awe inspiring. Keep posting & I'll keep reading. Hope Benneton realise they're sponsoring you!

    Keep on riding!

  5. Hi Ren

    Good updates on your blog. Hope it's all going well. Awaiting the video of your downhill stint. By the way did the boomerang come back???

  6. Really enjoying the stories and pictures Ren , you take care mate :-)