…was rather severe! We had been largely dismissing the weather warnings on the radio and on the road matrix signs on the way up, but it turns out they were quite accurate.
As we were getting ready to set off for the start point from our B&B a guy on a skateboard came past the window, with a support van following, lights a-flashing. A bit of research told us that he was Jon Holder doing #thebigskatedown. We assumed that we would catch up with him at some point.
It was blowing a bit of hooly as we gathered at The Signpost in John O’Groats, the one that points towards lands end, the one that thousands of others had stood beneath to have their photos taken at the start of a journey; and even more at the end, I think.
Also at the sign was a couple who had finished their End to End the night before but it was too dark for photos. They had done it much quicker than we were going to!
The plan was to start off with Levi in the trailer, ride for an hour or so, giving Becca and Mum chance to go and pack the car. Then they would meet us on route and take him off to warm up! The wind wasn’t too bad, so we set off. The slight incline was nothing to our fresh legs, even with the trailer. It was certainly windy, but nothing terrible. Be caught up with a couple of girls and chatted briefly. They had also completed their End to End the day before and were now headed back to the train station as quickly as possible to avoid the ‘big storm’!
Having slept for most of the 90mins in the trailer, Levi was collected from a spot on the high road with spectacular views over the sea. It turns out that timing was good as shortly after that the rain started, the wind picked up. It was still the start of our trip, though, so our spirits remained high and as we descended into Castletown we stopped for a walk up the dunes to see the sea!!
Sadly no castle to see, but a brief escape from the wind as the cycle route took us through the town. Then climb out of the town back to the high road. The rain started with a vengeance and as we descended into Thurso we were cold and wet, and my waterproof socks gave up! We had packed a lunch but what we needed was a welcoming warm cafe- but it was Sunday! Nothing was open, so we huddled outside a music shop and ate our pack-up.
It was another climb out of town and then a steady up and down along the high road. It was pretty bleak. Cold, wet, windy and we just put our heads down and pedaled. The scenery remained impressive, but we were too bedraggled to care! Occasional stops for a drink and a snack were brief.
Then, all of a sudden we saw a sign saying ‘Camping’ only 1 mile ahead, despite Melvich being a few miles ahead and uphill! Much to my joy it turns out the Halladale Inn was just before Melvich. We parked the bikes and headed in to dry off and warm up. We had beaten the support car, though, so I had nothing dry to change into. I had to settle for shedding some of the wet clothes, a warm drink and some chips.
We hadn’t passed the skateboarder!
After an hour or so the car arrived. We set about putting the tent up, but what turned out to be 60mph winds (apparently) ripped a couple of guy ropes off! We decided it wasn’t going to work and since the site had some empty pods we opted for a second night inside. All of us, that is, apart from Mum. She was planning on using my tiny one-man which was made for strong winds, so she was up for trying it out!
By the time we had settled in, the sun had come out, although the wind hadn’t died down. We headed out for a walk to the local beach before dinner and bed.