kipperfish: (Alyson)
[personal profile] kipperfish
Land's End to John O'Groats Day 12 - Ballater to Inverness 73 miles (838 miles done, 150 miles to go)


Day 12 done, and only 150 miles to go. That's the first time I've thought about it in those terms today. It's within touching distance! I'm actually somewhat excited about this! And after the day that was today, well, let's just say that it has totally made today worthwhile.

Today started with not enough sleep. There were 7 of us in the hostel room last night, two of whom could snore for their county, if not their region of the U.K. This meant that sleep was at a premium, and quite honestly, I don't feel like I had enough. Breakfast was once again made by our tour guides, and they do a mean scrambled egg and beans on Toast! It was actually really tasty! We were also breakfasting with our hostel owners, and I'm convinced I know the lady from somewhere, as I totally recognise her, but I can't for the life of me work out where from, and her name did not ring any bells. She wasn't old, or silver haired though, so I failed to piss her off.

After that, our wakey wakey climb was up to a ski resort. We had about 12 miles of mild climbing, followed by 5 miles of climbing up The Lecht. I don't know if those distances are entirely accurate, but they'll do! The climb up to The Lecht (which is a ski station) started at a place called (cue childish giggle) Cock Bridge. As I came around the corner and saw that sign, I dutifully tittered, then remembered that this was the start of the climb so sobered up quickly, and as I went further round the corner, a whole bunch of shocked, expletive laden comments came out of my mouth as I s met with a vertical wall of a road. Ok, it wasn't vertical, but boy was it a bit of a shock to see how steep it was. Remembering yesterday, I started to climb it on my bike, but after a few yards, it became obvious that it wasn't going to happen, so I got off and pushed for a bit. The road got less steep s bit further up, and I was tempted to get back on and cycle for a bit. This worked for a short while, but the climb was mostly too steep for me, and I spent a lot of time pushing the bike up. However, mentally, I was fine with this, and as long as I make it under my own power, I'm happy with the occasional bit of walking if the situation demands it!

The rest of the way up to the top was uneventful, and when we got to the top, brew stop happened, with the prospect of a 10 mile downhill section to follow. This was music to my ears, and greatly improved my cup of tea.

This downhill stretch provided me with my most amusing moment of the day. I had set off with two others (Scott and Neil) and Scott was a little bit ahead of me. As we were flying down the hill, Scott suddenly started slowing down. The reason soon became obvious, there were two sheep just standing in the middle of the road giving absolutely zero damns. They were standing there, and just daring us to go past. Scott didn't really want to get charged by the ram, so came to a stop. I followed suit, which was a little awkward as there were cars behind me. The cars slowly went round us and towards the sheep, and then also stopped. The sheep literally gave no damns at all, they didn't care who or what you were, they were just standing there, glaring. Eventually, the car managed to persuade the sheep to move, and on we went, but the image of the two sheep glaring at everyone will stick with me for a while!

A bit later on, I had two near brushes with coming a cropper. The first one I didn't actually notice and had to be told by Sam, brew van driver for the day. He was hanging back behind us on the road and there was a bmw in front of him and behind me. I was aware there was a car there, but it was hanging back and not trying to overtake me on the downhill. I was catching up with Neil very quickly, so with a final check over my shoulder, I pulled out to go round Neil. Apparently, there BMW chose this moment to try and go past as well, and Sam had his heart in his mouth and thought I was about to be hit. Happily for all concerned, well, me anyway, he didn't hit me, and everything was fine.

The second brush came in a much more amusing fashion. I had just taken the lead on a short steep downhill, because in Scott's words, I'm slightly more insane than the rest, and was tanking it on the straight at the bottom, when I noticed the grass and bushes next to me start rustling, and then a pheasant appeared. So, I drifted over to the right of the road to give him room, and the damn thing started to race me, and run just in front and to the left of me. Then, to my horror, it decided to dart across right in front of me and I missed it by inches, again with a very loud expletive! Scott couldn't stop giggling.

The rest of the ride was mostly uneventful although all day the scenery was completely spectacular. I don't remember ever being this far north, but every time I looked around on the bike, I was wowed by what I was seeing. It really is a beautiful part of the world. Given that we had cycled up to a ski resort yesterday afternoon, and then to another one this morning, my legs were understandably tired for most of today, and there were plenty of moments where it was like cycling through treacle. The other thing of note of today - it was blooming hot! For Scotland, in September, temperatures above 20 I thought were really rare, but we have been exceptionally lucky with the weather we have had so far this trip, and we have two days to hold onto this luck, which it looks like we'll do, although no chickens are being counted right now.

2 days to go..... 150 miles to go...... Nearly there!



Still not in John O'Groats yet.

K.
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