A 1146 mile cycle ride from Land's End to John o' Groats
While the other cyclists staying at the hostel took the busy A9 up to John o’ Groats, we took the A897. It’s a single-track road that climbs gently alongside the River Helmsdale. Adding 20 miles to the distance we had to cycle today, it was worth the effort. Instead of a car passing us every few seconds, we had the road to ourselves and with the wind behind us we flew along. The sky was blue, it was warm, and it really felt like we were on the middle of nowhere. Definitely one of the best parts of our journey. And we saw red deer too.The A897 from Helmsdale – an ‘A’ road of very minor proportions. Don’t follow the crowd along the A9, follow this road instead. Loch an Ruathair seen from the A897.
Once we’d reached the north coast, the rest of the ride was along the A836. It was good, but I think that by then, both Joe and myself just wanted to reach John o’ Groats. We pedalled on as the sky darkened. The heavens opened with five miles to go and we were once again soaked. After today’s 75 mile ride (our longest day) it seemed quite fitting to end as we’d started, cold and wet.
Nearly three weeks ago, standing next to the sign-post at Land’s End, it really did feel that we were at ‘land’s end’. The wind, the rain, the coastline. But after cycling a total of 1146 miles, it felt like we’d arrived in a car park. It was a car park. A car park with a couple of tacky shops and the annoying £9.95 photo booth. After such a long time on the road, it just didn’t feel like ‘the end’. Perhaps it’s not.
We’ve had a brilliant time and loved every minute. We’re also pleased that we never once got off our bikes to push – we cycled up every hill. A ‘father and son experience’ that we’ll remember forever. Looking back, even the wet and cold parts were great. Get your bicycle out of the shed, pump up the tyres, oil the chain and get pedalling.