Joined August 2022 Message
  • Day22

    End of the road

    September 20 in Scotland ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Ever had that 'Been there, done that, but haven't got the T-shirt because there weren't any for sale' feeling?

    After riding 1159 miles
    In 118hrs 34 minutes
    And 58054ft of going up (twice the height of Everest folks)
    Having burnt 53064 calories
    And eaten lots of rice pudding

    I have made it to the top of Great Britain.

    I was excited to do the last 23 miles this morning; glad to reach the end; a bit deflated that there was noone to share the experience with except the owner of the shop/tourist info who said 'Want to sign the book?' as she mopped her floor with disinfectant. Personally I didn't think I smelt that bad. After all I washed a set of clothes at Lockerbie a week ago. And bathed in the river near Appleby.

    JoG is so much nicer than LE. Friendly, cheap parking, nice shops and cafes, great views to The Orkneys (only 8 miles away).

    I left my bike to be returned by courier and set off on the bus back to Thurso and train to Inverness. All these places that I had struggled through at a snail's pace flashed by in minutes.

    Thanks particularly to Amanda who supported me when I was low and rejoiced with me when I was high.. It was by far the most challenging thing I have done emotionally and mentally. Not a particularly physical challenge but tough.

    Thanks as well to my friend Nick who lent me his Garmin after mine had a literal meltdown a few days before setting off. Couldn't have done it without. I'd still have been circling round Media City in Salford trying to find the road to Bury.

    Maybe some reflecting time tomoz whilst waiting for the plane home with an extra large haggis.

    Best food of the trip was definitely haggis fritters with whisky cream sauce at the Altnaharra hotel. What a combo.

    For your absolute amusement there are two pics. A stray apostrophe from Seaview Hotel in JoG and a Gaelic spelling from Inverness station. It's important to be pedantic.
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    Traveler

    Well executed and beautifully written adventure xx

    9/20/22Reply
    Traveler

    amazing feat indeed no surprise yet full admiration of the sheer determination, incredible planning and organising skill and physical strength and stamina that got you there, amongst many other factors

    9/20/22Reply
    Traveler

    love the photos. especially the apostrophe's. as you know I love a punctuation mark. capital letters elude me though (in this app!)

    9/20/22Reply
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  • Day21

    Alone in big country

    September 19 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Can you imagine? An A-road that is 35 miles long with only one turning off, has the most isolated pub in Britain half way along it (owned by the church) and one village. It is the most wonderful road I have ever ridden and finishing the last 16 miles this morning was a highlight of this journey. The space is so peaceful, just bog and mountain as far as you can see. Loved it.

    Then at Tongue I joined the North Coast 500. Hideous lines of mobile homes seeing views but experiencing nothing. I got philosophical and quietly shouted pig every time I pulled in for one and they didn't t say thanks!

    I got even more philosophical and thought about journeys by bike. On a bike you become part of the journey. You're not just travelling through. You feel it in your body, you smell it in the air, you notice the tiny things and hear all the noises around.

    I wasn't expecting it but at Tingue you hit the coast again. What lovely sandy, deserted beaches, big waves. And sun!

    I took a picture of Bettyhill for my friend Michael who finished his first JOGLE day there.

    Spoke to lots of LEJOGgers today. Mostly we share similar experiences and wish each other happy rides. A fraternal feeling!

    65 miles, another 4052ft of uphill. Last 25 miles tomorrow.
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    Traveler

    One day more!!!

    9/19/22Reply
    Traveler

    Yes. Too long away from home.

    9/19/22Reply
    Traveler

    Beautiful landscape. I would love to see it myself. You're almost there. x

    9/19/22Reply
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  • Day20

    A gentle day

    September 18 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    Gentle?, I hear you say. What's so gentle about 70 miles and 2500 ft of ascent? It just seemed gentle. No nasty steep bits. Just miles and miles of gently going up.

    Saw loads of oil platforms in the Firth of Cromarty. And an AA box. A bit of a rarity nowadays but no uniformed patrolman waiting to salute me.🙁

    Reflections on the river below Bonar Bridge were perfect but landscapes are difficult to catch on a phone camera. Cycling gives you time to stop. Saw people in cars passing the views with nowhere to stop and look. Glad I was on my bike!

    Strangely the cycle route takes you to a river crossing with numerous steps. But I was forewarned and stayed on the quiet A road. Yesterday I saw some of the mass ride of end to enders. Today I passed their final campsite...115 miles from the end. A vast field full of tents. Apparently there are 800 of them. Some company on the journey I suppose.

    First sign for Altnaharra is at the last turning onto the single track road. 20+ miles of nothing apart from moors, trees and new wind farms. Across Flow Country, storing 3 times more carbon than all the trees in the UK.

    20 miles of nothing except The Crask Inn. Its famous for being the most remote pub in Scotland and a welcome sight for LEJOGgers. Guess what....closed for today only. Ah well. Next time I'm passing!

    What relief when you reach the sign saying 3/4 mile.

    Beer, haggis, tagliatelle in that order.

    Penultimate ride tomorrow.
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    Traveler

    Our second leg was from Bettyhill to Evanton. We also went to the Crask Inn, which doubles as a church, oddly enough.

    9/18/22Reply
    Traveler

    The previous owners donated it to the The Episcopal Church of Scotland who offer morning prayer on request and are currently advertising for a manager to run the pub and sacred space! want a job?

    9/18/22Reply
    Traveler

    A job in the middle of nowhere, but extremely peaceful. It’s got it’s pluses and minuses! However, THE WINTER!! 😵‍💫⛄️☃️. The next place north of The Crask Inn, Altnaharra, has recorded amongst the lowest temperatures in GB. -27°. So perhaps NO to your offer of a Job, Steve. 🤣😂

    9/19/22Reply
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  • Day19

    The Golden Spurtle

    September 17 in Scotland ⋅ ☁️ 11 °C

    If you ever get the chance to do Park Run in Aviemore, go for it. A beautiful course through birch and pine woods and onto heathland. Chatted to runners and volunteers as I set off this morning after a bacon, black pudding and egg roll. Tasty.

    No idea where I went but endured another summit (this time only 405m ) before finding a world famous village. Carrbridge is home to an old bridge. But its claim to fame is the Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships with entrants from all over the world. Can't wait for October 8th, 10am, Village Hall.

    Made it through Inverness with no sight of Nessie. To be fair it wasnae good weather for the poor wee beastie.

    Over the bridge with about 1000 cyclists doing a supported ride. Passed one of their pitstops with food, 2 ambulances, coach and bike trailer, motorcycle stewards etc etc. Later on passed some of the group looking weary. Only 100 miles per day and nothing to carry. Easy-peasy.

    Stopped at Moy Viaduct for a bite to eat. It has won awards and is made of wood. Just like you see in those old Western films. The train going over it made it with nae bother.

    Dingwall is interesting. The Beatles played here on January 14th 1963 apparently. And Frasers the family butcher won The Scottish Black Pudding Championship in 2010. They've never reached those dizzy heights again.

    Good view of the castle from Tesco car park.

    Altnaharra tomorrow, Thurso the day after, then JoG on Tuesday morning and home Wednesday. Hurrah. Only 165 miles to go.
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    Traveler

    When I was in Haselmere museum I overheard a woman talking about LEJOG and stopped to ask her about it Her son is one of the 100 or more cyclists you met today His group are camping, have loads of support even physios and cycle 90 miles per day Interesting that you should meet today 😄

    9/17/22Reply
     
  • Day18

    Be prepared

    September 16 in Scotland ⋅ ☁️ 7 °C

    50 years ago I was a scout. Motto....Be Prepared. More later.

    I am determined at some point to call in on Drs Finlay, Cameron and their housekeeper Janet. But can I locate them? I have Dr Fonlays Casebook but can't return it to him.

    Up past Soldiers Leap at the Pass of Killicrankie and then to Blair Atholl, home of the only private army in the UK.

    Then reached the road to Drumochter Summit. Having done no forward prep for this route the sign that awaits is a little alarming. No food for 30km. Weather can be atrocious in summer. Etc.

    BUT I WAS A SCOUT AND MY WIFE DOES FOREST SCHOOL. Should be ok.

    Before passing through the gate I run through my winter survival checklist.
    1 Ice Axe and crampons
    2 Bivvy bag
    3 Full winter clothing
    4 Fire steel and kindling
    5 Satellite distress beacon
    6 3 days supply of high calorie food
    7 A pair of shorts and T-shirt.

    Bother. Items 1 to 6 missing. Ah well, I either make it or die a hero trying to get to Dalwhinnie.

    Onwards and upwards in the face of what appeared to be a 40mph Northerly wind. A bit of a brisk breeze according to a local going the other way. Yes it was freezing. 4 layers on and it was cold. Met a guy cycling in shorts and sandals. Hardy fool!

    Kept a keen eye out for potential shelter in case that was really snow I could see in the air but it turned out to be willow herb seeds blowing about. Incidentally willowherb was rare in Britain until the railway age. The passing locomotives spread the seed along the lines as they passed.

    Reached the summit alive and assumed it would be easier going downhill. Yes, marginally, but that 75mph 'breeze' hampered progress quite a bit. Survived the highest point on the National Cycle Network in Scotland and I am now telling you the true tale of my survival against the odds and against the elements. It was touch and go at times.

    According to the welcome sign Nessie is more alive than Drs Finlay, Cameron and their Janet. Hope I have more success in that direction.

    Passed General Wade's Ruthven Barracks. Apparently the building deadline was delayed because the locals kept kidnapping the stone masons. Genius ploy. 4 men once defended it against an army of 200.

    Through the beautiful rust coloured woods of Scots pine I found the village church of Insh with a simply stunning stained glass window. And so to Aviemore.

    Yesterday I hated Scotland. Today I fell in love with it a bit.
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    Traveler

    very amusing and eloquent thanks for today's tale xx

    9/17/22Reply
    Traveler

    I promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    9/17/22Reply
    Traveler

    Och aye. Rabbie and me both love the haggis pudding

    9/17/22Reply
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  • Day18

    Memories

    September 16 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    Manda and I visited Pitlochry once about 15 years ago. I think it was our 26th anniversary.

    We stayed a couple of nights and had fish and chips whilst listening to the Vale of Atholl Pipe Band giving a concert on the recreation ground. Plenty of midgies.

    Went to the Highland Games at Blair Atholl just up the road from here. Mands took on all comers in a running race, we saw chambers being tossed and a tough tug'o'war. On the train coming back a pipe entertained everyone in the carriage and a bottle of whisky was passed round.

    Then we headed off to the North West Highlands with our friends Tom and Anna Sibald for 6 days canoe camping. Best trip ever. Good memories.
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  • Day17

    Tough day at the office

    September 15 in Scotland ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    I know one thing for sure. I'm never likely to do a long trip like this on my own again! I like peace and quiet. I can endure a bit of solitude. But I much prefer companionship. I like to share the things I see, the things I enjoy, the things I hate.

    Well into The Highlands now. No wild haggis yet spotted.

    Moments of joy in my day:
    seeing more red squirrels in one day than in the whole of the previous 65 years;
    spots of colour from fly agaric, foxgloves and harebells;
    seeing the first sign for Pitlochry showing only 41 miles to go;
    getting to Taymouth after 8 long miles by its side;
    crossing my first community owned road bridge.

    Miles of body-shaking railway track bed and forest roads. 8 miles of switchback road without a single turning off alongside Loch Tay...mindnumbingly tedious and never ending! Then a smooth, empty, fast road of joy for the next 5 miles. I just want to finish and get home!

    Interesting bridge built with money raised in memoriam to a local cyclist killed on the notorious A9.

    Interesting plaque on the community owned bridge at Logierait. Acknowledging one person's dogged determination and persistence in making the renovation happen. Well done that man.
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    Traveler

    I have I remember Pitlochry with a fine laddie some years bach xx

    9/16/22Reply
    Traveler

    Nessie feeding from a discarded takeaway box?

    9/19/22Reply
     
  • Day16

    The bonnie, bonnie banks

    September 14 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Highlight of the day....hot black pudding roll from The Pit Stop in Dunbarton. A taste of heaven on earth.

    Through Glasgow along the Clyde. Came face to face with a fox. We just started st each other! Past the Wibbly, Wobbly Bridge. Spotted BAE Systems Surface Ships where one of the modules for the new aircraft carriers was built. Found a beautiful Victorian Booking Office on Cunard Drive. Presumably from an old railway?

    Signs started appearing for Loch Lomond so I followed them up the Forth and Clyde Canal. Started in 1768 it ran out of money until the Jacobite Rebellion. Jacobite estates confiscated provided the money to finish it.

    The River Leven is the site where Turkey Red dye was developed. A red dying process which made the red fadeproof. 38 separate procceses taking 4 months and using bulls blood and sheeps dung amongst other chemicals! Wonderful chemistry. 7000 people employed up until 1960 when the last works closed.

    Almost got to Loch Lomond at the top of the Leven. You can take a cruise on it if you like. But the road took me into The Trossachs and 'twas very sunny. In fact, just as I was thinking it was hot enough to sunbathe I came across s little fellow doing just that on the stone path. Took a pic and left him/her to it!

    I think the cyclist in the last picture was a pirate, judging by the wooden leg, and was clearly into extreme fasting by the look of his weightloss. Just speculating.
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    Traveler

    Great pics. thinking of all those who've gone before you. Do we have any idea how many?

    9/15/22Reply
    Traveler

    Mmmm no frills - that does look good 😋

    9/15/22Reply
     
  • Day14

    Serendipity. Or pre-ordination?

    September 12 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    30 miles into the day and looking for lunch I turned off into a village and found a cafe guarded by a chicken. One other bike. What a fab place. 24 day aged steak (too expensive), ham and pea soup (perfect).

    Sat down to chat with cyclist who decided to do LEJOG on the spur of the moment. Where do you come from' I ask. 'Near a place called Chewton Mendip' he says. Wow, only 10 miles from me. Name of Drew. We chatted and he said 'You seem like a nice chap. Let me tell you about my wife'. He told me the story of their 52 yrs together before she died earlier this year. Very sad. He talked about his cycling adventures and achievements then said he belonged to Somer Valley CC! 'Do you know Eugene and Sally?' I asked. Yes. Mutual acquaintances!

    On parting we looked at the handmade wooden mud guards on his bike. The front one has a seal figurine on. His nickname for his wife was 'my seal'. Even longer story.... I suggested I would pray for him during his grieving whist I rode and he really appreciated the offer.

    Chance meeting? Or pre-ordained?

    I'll let you do the philosophy while I smile at the memory.
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    Traveler

    Great picture almost there then!

    9/14/22Reply
    Traveler

    I'm in Callendar tonight and will finish on Tuesday morning next week. About 300 miles to go.

    9/14/22Reply
    Traveler

    Moving post.

    9/15/22Reply
     
  • Day14

    Rest Day 2

    September 12 in Scotland ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Second rest day was mostly spent reading in Waterstones in Glasgow. What a perfect way to relax.

    Best book was Eat and Run by an ultra- distance runner. Mixture of Tales and vegan recipes.

    Well educated graffiti in Glasgow as well. The legacy of COP 22?

    Wandering through Hamilton on my return I found a shop selling smoke bombs. Just what every well ordered household needs.

    Hamilton is a rough place with a famous footie team ( Academicals) and a racecourse. But not much else. Apart from the memorial plaque to a battle fought there in 1650. The plaque doesn't mention it but the result was Scotland making a surprise attack on the English resulting in a score of England 1, Scotlznd 0.
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