Day 14

Overview:

19 miles and 883 feet ascent.

We made it !  We started today by visiting Dunnet Head, the most northerly point in the British mainland, before the final stretch to John O’Groats for some celebratory photos and drinks.  After an early start, we then had enough time to cycle south to Wick to pick up the train home.

Today’s journey in three words: elation, relief, achievement

What actually happened:

Our trip from Land’s End to John O’Groats was actually 13 days long. We’d left a short day – just 11 miles – for our final day, largely organised around the time of a train home. So, tucking into a good meal in the hotel in Dunnet (the only hotel stop), followed by a celebratory whisky, it felt as though we had almost completed the ride.

We’d already decided that we wouldn’t cycle to Dunnet Head – an optional diversion which involved about 500ft of climbing – and so this left more time for a relaxing morning.

It was a quiet ride to John O’Groats the next morning with little traffic, smooth tarmac and only the noises of birdsong, lambs and the crashing of waves to accompany us. Views of more of the Orkneys opened up as we cycled east.

Before we knew it we were freewheeling down the hill towards the hotel, shop and visitor centre at John O’Groats. I remember thinking: “This is it, we’re finally off on our adventure” as we pedalled away from Land’s End. This time, my feelings were more of relief, elation and satisfaction that we’d made it. This has undoubtedly been the toughest thing I’ve ever done, and when we were battling headwinds and struggling to climb impossibly steep hills I’d be lying if I said I was enjoying it.  But looking back, it’s a huge achievement to have cycled the entire length of the country in one continuous journey

A couple took our photos at ‘the’ signpost before we retired to the cafe for a well-earned coffee  and scone.  We spent 10 minutes browsing for souvenirs in the shop but it’s difficult parting with your money when the choice and quality on offer is so shockingly bad (I guess some people must buy this tacky junk but it’s an insult to the good quality Scottish crafts they could have showcased and sold).

A 16 mile cycle took us south to Wick train station and the 8 hour trip home.  On the way we met Frank, who has terminal bone marrow cancer and is cycling LEJOG too (read his story below).  While we’ve managed to raise almost £2,700 for the Maggie’s Centres, who provide respite care for cancer sufferers and their families, Duncan and I are both fit and healthy.  Yet, here was a cheery, inspirational man battling the disease doing what we have done and raising money for Cancer Research.  This chance meeting did bring home to me that while our little adventure was mainly a personal challenge for us both, it will hopefully have done some good for people who are not quite so fortunate.

So that’s the end of our adventure.

I’ll complete this series of LEJOG posts with some final reflections and tips for anyone else  interested in taking it on when the dust has settled back home.  In the meantime, if you’d like to donate to a very worthy cause you can do so here:

https://www.justgiving.com/2015LEJOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


   

 

The high points:

  • Getting to John O’Groats !
  • Getting a cushioned seat on the train
  • Meeting a cheery Frank (with a very heavy bike)

And the low points:

  • Tacky souvenirs at John O’Groats – a wasted opportunity if ever there was one

Today’s stats:

  • 11 miles cycled
  • 1015 miles cumulative
  • 13.2 mph average speed
  • 25.6 mph top speed


 

28 Comments on “LEJOG Day 14 – Thurso to John O’Groats

  1. Congratulations to you both! An incredible achievement and one which i suspect will take a while to sink in. I’ve loved reading the blogs and seeing the pics. Happy recovery!

    • Thank you ! Yes, we’re still digesting the various highs and lows and it’ll take a while for the dust to settle. I think it’s also time I reacquainted myself with my family !

    • Thanks very much. It’s been a bit of a squeeze finding time (and wifi) to write blog posts every day but it’s served as my diary while the memories were fresh. I wouldn’t have remembered half as much after the event.

  2. Huge achievement – well done to you both.

    Thanks for the daily updates (no idea where you found the energy and time for those); it was great sharing a small part of you adventure.

    Again, well done both!

    • I’m glad you appreciated the daily updates. I pre-prepared the first part of each day’s post to save some time then wrote it up as my diary in the pub each night. I wouldn’t have remembered half of it if I’d not done it at the time. I still could have done with more time to tweet during the day but time and lack of fast wifi/phone signals were against me. Thanks again.

    • Thanks very much. And that’s exact why I’ve done my LEJOG series of articles and posts – so that it can be a resource for others to use when planning their own trips (as well as my own personal diary).

  3. Well done to you both. When we spoke to you just over a year ago, you weren’t even a cyclist. Amazing achievement and we enjoyed following your daily blog.

    • Thanks, I really appreciate your comments. It’s been a fantastic experience with lots of great memories to look back on.

  4. Well done both. Have enjoyed the blogs….probably the closest I’ll ever get to doing lejog….it must feel great to have done this. What’s next…..?!

    • Thanks very much. It was a big physical challenge and a great experience. Right now … no plans other than recovering and spending time with my family.

  5. Well done Ewan and Duncan – what a fantastic achievement, especially as a complete novice cyclist! (Novice no more!) Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I wasn’t able to follow the blog for the last week so have caught up with the entire second half of your journey today.

    I was quite moved reading the final paragraphs above, even before your meeting with Frank and his story.

    It’s been an inspirational account of a fantastic journey by bike and beautifully illustrated with some fabulous pics as a bonus.

    You should feel very proud of yourselves and especially for having raised so much for Maggies.

    It was a privilege and pleasure to meet and ride with for a few miles of your leg through Lancashire too.

    Looking forward to reading your thoughts and reflections on the journey!

    Chappeau!

    • You’re too kind, John, but I really appreciate your comments and support along the way. It was a real pleasure to meet you and enjoy your company. Although it was sometimes tough going we had a great time and 1,000 miles whizzed past so quickly – in spite of going so slowly. Final LEJOG posts to follow over the next week or two.

  6. Congratulations! Fantastic achievement – I have really enjoyed reading about your journey, and I’m sure you will have very many happy memories of it.

    • Hi there,

      Actually, I’m not sure that is us ? By the looks of it one bike has red front panniers and we didn’t. We were there fairly early (9am) and there was only one couple who snapped our pictures at the signpost.

      Whether it is us or not, thanks for your congratulations ! I really like your pictures, by the way – I just wished I’d had the space to take a decent camera with me rather than just my iPhone.

      • Oops, you’re right! I didn’t get there till mid-afternoon – I spotted that in my shot one bike had red and one bike had yellow panniers and jumped to conclusions. Sorry!
        I do agree with your comments about the place, but … the shops will only offer what the tourists buy. I confess I only came away with two fridge magnets … oh, and a couple of OS maps.
        Don’t knock the iPhone – it’s a very useful tool. And if you’d seen the state of my camera and lens after the boat trip to Hoy on Sunday you’d have been GLAD that’s all you had!

      • No worries ! Yes, it is a coincidence for two others to have had the same colour panniers; we didn’t see them on our travels. You’re right that the iPhone does take decent photos – all the photos on my daily blog were uploaded from my phone on the road. Pity we didn’t have time to visit Orkney … it’ll always be there for the next time though.

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