After a few years of idle loafing in the wilderness, I thought it was high time I concocted another daft adventure to shake off the cobwebs and hopefully raise a bit more money for the Trust. Being no good at running, swimming or sailing, I decided to stick with the cycling and opted for the route linking the most south-easterly point in the UK (St Margaret’s Bay) to the most north-westerly (Cape Wrath).
All the good intentions of training and planning went by the wayside very early on so I set off on the 21st May not entirely convinced that either myself or the bike would get very far. Luck shone down on me from the off though and I was blessed with hot sunshine for the first 8 days (incredibly). The slight downside of this was that I acquired a dubious 2-tone tan effect as the left hand side of me got burned to a crisp while the right side stayed pale and pasty.
I bumbled my way northwards, staying in some very dodgy guesthouses and hostels along the way, one of which I later discovered has been branded ‘the worst in the UK’! As I crossed over the border into Scotland, the effects of too many deep-fried haggis burgers began to show and I was forced to pit-stop in Stirling to have my badly buckled rear wheel realigned. That evening my luck finally ran out and, having nowhere to stay at 10pm, I lay myself down at the side of Loch Tummel for an evening of al fresco sleeping. I needn’t have worried about sleeping. I spent the entire night dancing the Highland Fling to escape the marauding midges and managed about 20 minutes of shut-eye. A lesson learned the hard way.
Despite the slight setback, I pushed on to Inverness the next day and the following evening spent a glorious few hours speeding through the stunning mountain scenery of Sutherland to reach Durness at 11pm! The final leg involved jumping on a tiny ferry with my bike to be taken over to Cape Wrath itself before clattering my way up a bone-jarring 11-mile track to the lighthouse. Spokes were pinging left, right and centre but the bike just about held out and we reached our final destination at midday on 31st May.
After a few hours taking it all in and refuelling with tea and cake, it began to dawn on me…. ‘How on earth do I get home from here….?’.
Day 1 – St Margaret’s Bay to Westerham – 72 miles (72).
Day 2 – Westerham to Buckingham – 91 miles (163).
Day 3 – Buckingham to Derby – 91 miles (254).
Day 4 – Derby to Ashton-under-Lyne – 69 miles (323).
Day 5 – Ashton-under-Lyne to Carperby – 98 miles (421).
Day 6 – Carperby to Brampton – 68 miles (489).
Day 7 – Brampton to Caldercruix – 106 miles (595).
Day 8 – Caldercruix to Tummel Bridge – 86 miles (681).
Day 9 – Tummel Bridge to Inverness – 102 miles (783)
Day 10 – Inverness to Durness – 107 miles (890)
Day 11 – Durness to Cape Wrath Lighthouse – 13 miles (903 miles total).