Browsed by
Month: August 2021

Day 12: Crask to Tain and the end of our trip 😥

Day 12: Crask to Tain and the end of our trip 😥

  • Today’s mileage: 41.9 miles
  • Total mileage:    430.6 miles
  • Desasters:  none really…

The day started with a hearty breakfast and a chat with our new Kiwi friends that we met in the bar last night.  

After sayimg our goodbyse and telling the manager about the beadside lamp that was arking we set off about 9:30. 

We were looking forward to today because it was essentially a downhill ride – see the strava profile below…

Lovely route through beautiful countryside with the return of trees – I love trees.

We met up with Richard & Helen at Bonar Bridge for lunch.

Lunch at Bonar Bridge…

After Bonar Bridge the route took us on the main A roads towards Inverness. We made it as far as Tain, called it a day and got the train the last 20 miles. It was busy traffic and loads of big wagons.

Phil, a friend who lives in inverness came and picked us up ftom Inverness and we had a very pleasant night at his house in Gorthleck – thanks Phil 👍

Anyway a summary of today’s route…

And that’s the end of our trip. So far this blog is rambling words written while half asleep after a days cycling. Hopefully I’ll put together some useful info on Orkneys and Shetland soon.

Day 11: Melvick to Crask

Day 11: Melvick to Crask

  • Today’s mileage:  50.4 miles
  • Total mileage:    387.3 miles
  • Desasters:  none 😁

Yesterday’s short day threw our plan out the window. We had a rethink over breakfast…

What a difference the weather makes.  Dry & little wind today so the new plan was to get some miles done. The options were Altnaharra, Crask or (at a push) Lairg. Several phone calls later and were booked into the Crask Inn. We started off about 9am.

Not much to tell really – pleasent and uneventful days cycling through beautiful countryside.  As with all phone photos they don’t do the scenery justice.

Around Betty Hill…
On the road side at Betty Hill
Lunch at Tongue  😋
Typical cycling…
The road just short of Crask…
Bothy – could have saved money and stayed there but Sarah said it smelt of shit…
Arrival at the Crask Inn and an NC1 sign…

Anyway a summary of todays route…

The Crask inn is lovely. Ill write more on that when less tired…

Day 10: Dunnet Head to Melvich…

Day 10: Dunnet Head to Melvich…

  • Today’s mileage:  29.3 miles
  • Total mileage:    336.9 miles
  • Desasters:  only the weather…

It was a windy and wet night and neither of us slept well. We were up by 8am, showered and got the tent down before the rain started.

The couple who ran the camp site took pity on us and gave us breakfast – eggs and toast. Really nice people as we’d only got two jelly babies to keep us going till Thurso !

They’d got two beautiful dogs who took an interest in our breakfast. The Husky’s eyes looked mean but she was soft as grease really 💕

We started cycling in windy but dry conditions. The sections on the main road were grim because of traffic. The back roads were hilly but scenic.

Dunnet Head in the distance.

Then the rain started, the wind increased and it became colder. Cycling became a real sense of humour test 😬

We stopped at a small shop (porta-cabin) for takeaway hot chocolate and macaroni cheese & beans pie. While we were refuelling in the lee of the cabin (by the bins) we decided we weren’t going to make Tongue today. Several Google searches and phone calls later & we were booked in at the Melvich Hotel – at about half our original target distance.

It was now about 1pm and that only left us about 12 miles for the day 😁 As if to vindicate our decision the rain eased.

We met two interesting cyclists on route. A girl called Hanna who does LEJOG every year on her own and a guy from Suffolk who was touring Scotland for a month. The guy from Suffolk was camping and wasn’t too happy as it had rained for nearly all his trip !

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 9: Kirkwall, Orkneys  to Dunnet Head on the Mainland…

Day 9: Kirkwall, Orkneys  to Dunnet Head on the Mainland…

  • Today’s mileage:  37.7 miles
  • Total mileage:    307.6 miles
  • Desasters:  only the weather…

Baldricks plan for the day was cycle down the east coast of Orkney, across the Churchill barriers and down to Burwick to get the foot ferry to JoG.  From JoG a short cycle to Dunnet Head camp site.

It turned into a game of two halves.  The ride to the ferry was great with some interesting stuff on route.  Tje the weather crapped out and it was a real sense of humour test to the the camp site.

Easy cycling out of Kirkwall to the first Churchill barrier

Churchill barrier

There are four Churchill barriers with info boards at each.

On the first island making up the barriers is the Italian Chapel.  This is a small church constructed by Italian PoW’s during WW2.

A block ship – the Reginald…

Block ships were sunk to prevent German U boat attacks until the barries were built.  Interestingly this one featured in Eurithmics music video “Here Comes The Rain Again”

Info on the block ships…

Then onto the ferry.  Nice views of Duncansby Head but the weather’s crapping out…

Duncansby Head.
Obligatory photograph at JoG

Then the weather really crapped out for our cycle to Dunnet Head. The head wind was horrendous and we ended up getting there about 8pm.

We just got the tent up before the rain really came down. We were shattered and ate ready meals in the tent before a broken nights sleep because of the wind.

The cottage pie was quite tasty…

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 8: Back to Lerwick…

Day 8: Back to Lerwick…

  • Today’s mileage:  34 miles
  • Total mileage:     269.9 miles
  • Desasters:  only a minor one

Todays plan – breakfast, find some Twatt, cycle to Lerwick. Look round Lerwick and catch ferry to Kirkwall. Albert Hotel for the night. Simples…

We started out of Brae with the sun and wind on our backs. We averaged over 13 mph from Brae to Voe. This isn’t bad when carrying 20kg of luggage. All down to the tail wind – not my legs !

First stop was another honesty cafe for a rather nice slice of pear and cinnamon cake.

This stop also had goats. We made a friend…

So far a pleasent days cycling but I was getting excited because it happened again…

After Twatt it was only about 12 miles to Lerwick. There were some long hills but stunning scenery…

We had a lovely meal in C’est la Vie french cafe. It wasn’t cheap but “proper” food. I had Tartiflette & Sazz had king prawns. Would recommend if you’re ever in the neighbourhood.

Then onto the ferry for a few hours of boredom only broken by a “fly by” of Fair lsle. Crap photo but they don’t clean the windows like the used too…

Fair Isle and the Skroo Northern Lighthouse..

Then it was a dash from the ferry to the Albert hotel for the first disaster of the holiday…

We arrived at the Albert at about 11:30. When we were finally shown our room it was a massive luxury room – price tag for the night £180. Seems I’ve messed up when booking Doh…

Now that would have been ok if we were there long enough to enjoy it. Sadly were arriving late & leaving early for the ferry to JoG… Anyway the bed was huge & comfy…

Anyway a summary of todays route…

Day 7: Day ride from Brae…

Day 7: Day ride from Brae…

  • Today’s mileage:  28.25 miles
  • Total mileage:     235.9 miles
  • Desasters:  0

The idea was that today was a bit of a rest day for exploring the area round Brae. Weathers ok with light winds and no rain 👍

After a lazy start we set off west up th A970 with the idea of lunch at Hillswick. 

Normally we’d avoid cycling on A roads but this is a Shetland A road – single track and very little traffic.

The first interesting site was this road sign…

Sadly none in site

The next point of interest was Mavis Grind.  This is a place where the Atlantic and North seas come within 100 yards of each other.

This was an important crossing point as the info board below explains…

We had lunch at the bay in Hillswick and what a beautiful bay it is…

On route we’d met a local and his kids who’d told us about a circulsr route home.  This took us past the local woods !   Yes contrary to popular belief there are trees on Shetland – just very few & hidden from the wind in a small valley…

Some small trees hidden in a small depression…
A summary of today’s route…
Day 6: Top of Shetland and back down to Brae…

Day 6: Top of Shetland and back down to Brae…

  • Today’s mileage: 57 miles
  • Total mileage:     207.65 miles
  • Desasters:  0

The day started by being kept awake by a group of chav scum Glaswegians partying in the adjacent youth hostel till the early hours…   Grrrr 🤬

Baldrick has a cunning plan – a new plan…

After the rowdy night we hatched a new plan which involved not staying another night next to the Glaswegians.  The new plan was to cycle without baggage to the top of Shetland to finish the NC1. Then cycle back (via campsite) and onto Brae with our baggage. This will be approximately 50 miles – another big day when carrying 20kg of kit.

Instead of booking camping we went for the 4* Brae hotel. With a weather front coming in it would give us a little luxury and an opportunity to wash some clothes.

On the road north…

We passed an honisty bus stop shop. After the chav scum weegies this again restored my faith in human nature 🤗

Just nice…
Yes we did buy some cakes…

Then we came across a mockup of a viking long house & ship. No time to look round as were were on a big day again.

Saxavord space centre surprised me. Can’t see how they’ll launch from Shetland – its just too windy. Have they never tried to launch fire work rockets in a strong wind – doh… Anyway they do have a web site www.saxavord.com/ if you’re interested.

After many hills we finally reached it – the end of the NC1…

We’ve done it ! The road really did stop – we could go no further north.
The beach here was stunning but no time for sunbathing…

The road really did stop – we could go no further north. So we turned round and set off for Brae via the camp site.

Our route took us past Sullom Voe oil terminal. This almost looked deserted apart from one flare stack burning.

Sullum Voe oil terminal…
An information board by the teminal…

A long descent bought us into Brae to our 4* hotel – The Brae Hotel. We were greeted by a girl who had lived in Cockers until her partner got a job here. The hotel appeared clean but basic. She said the hotel was “quite busy” at the moment.

The first thing we noticed was our room key 226 also opened room 224 – a little worrying !

Then we noticed this…

Haven’t seen one of these since the 80’s…

We went down for dinner and were served by the receptionist who appears to do everything! In fact apart from the chef she was the only staff on in this ” busy” hotel.

Anyway we’re both knackered so time for bed… 😘

Day 5: Lerwick to Unst…

Day 5: Lerwick to Unst…

  • Today’s mileage: 53 miles
  • Total mileage:     149.75 miles
  • Desasters:  0

The ferry to Shetland.

The ferry to Shetland is really stress free. Turn up, friendly staff give you the crack & get on simples… The cabin we had was clean and well equipped with a shower & loo. All in good nick & not worn out.

The only problem with this ferry is there’s not enough time to sleep. You have to exit the ship at 7:30am.

Sarah had read in a cycling blog that the ferry breakfast was the best in Lerwick ! We headed to the restaurant with high hopes only to see that it was combinations of sausage, bacon or egg in a bun. Bit sad for Lerwick if that’s the best in town!

Our route today…

Lerwick to Unst – our route for the day. Shetland is windy and hilly. Both make a big difference when you’re touring. Today we were lucky and the wind was with us and the sun on our backs.

World record ?

As we got ready for todays cycle I realised that it was day 5 for this pair of cycling shorts – questipn for my cycling friends – is that a world record ? Not sure it’s one I want but we’ve had zero opportunities for washing and more importantly drying clothes. My merino tee shirt is also day 5 and showing sweat stains but no smell 🤭

Dissapointments…

Disappointments = 1 today. We got some snacks from a small garage on route. One part of my sugar intake was a Yorkie bar. I haven’t had one for a while and was really surprised how small they are now. The length seems the same but the chunks are so small now ☹

Little wins…

When we got off the ferry at Ulsta we got a Macaroni cheese and bean pie. Sounds grim but it was lush. If you ever see one try it.

Lush Scottish cuisine…

Shetland ponies…

Met these guts on route friendly & so small 💕

Uyeasound Hostel and Camp site…

This is a beautiful location on the shore of Uyea Sound.

Uyea Sound

No warden just rock up and pitch your tent.

Cooking in the evening sun. Not that warm though !

Le petit Cafe – faith in human nature restored…

On the seafront just fifty yards from out tent was this honisty cafe. Le petit Cafe – an honesty cafe.

It was stuffed with everything from crisps to cans of duck casserole. It had a kettle for teas & coffees and loads of french biscuits. We brought some biscuits and the honesty draw was full of cash. Restores your faith in human nature 🙂

Day 4: A day in Kirkwall before the night ferry to Shetland…

Day 4: A day in Kirkwall before the night ferry to Shetland…

  • Today’s mileage: 1.8 miles
  • Total mileage:     96.75 miles
  • Desasters:   none – because we got a shower in the end 🛁

The rain from 4pm to about 9:30 was biblical. Then it stopped allowing us to get some food and a good nights sleep. Luckly the tent stayed dry.

We woke with the plan of a long shower and a lazy start. Then we had all day to look round Kirkwall before the night ferry to Shetland.

As with all our plans things didn’t go quite to plan… We were told that the drains were blocked and the shower block could not be used ! We could however use the toilets in the nearby leisure centre with the promise of a shower later (drains permitting). So feeling lighter but still smelling we set off to explore Kirkwall for the day…

Our first stop was the “Beiting and Brew” street food van for breakfast. This was a great recommendation from Pat. The locations not great – an industrial estate near the vets but well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Bean burritos and paprika chips with garlic mayo 😋

Well fuelled we set off for Kirkwall. Our first mission was to find the local bike shop to buy me some cycling gloves – I’d left mine on the washing line back in Cockers.

After the bike shop we walked round the rest of Kirkwall. This didn’t take long because its really not that big !

We just wandered round the shops in lovely sunshine. But you know when you start looking for something…

Nice Tee shirts.

…but when you zoom in on the top shirt 😁

So that gave purpose to our wander round Kirkwall – we were now on a Twatt hunt ! We now searched all the souvenir (tat) shops for Twatt.

We did find Judith Glue’s shop sold all sorts of Twatt gifts…

That’s Christmas sorted 👍

Now sorted for Twatt we headed back to the campsite for showers an a chill before food at the Kirkwall Hotel.

Nice food at the Kirkwall though a little pricey. Then off to the ferry terminal…

Day 3: Stromness to Kirkwall.

Day 3: Stromness to Kirkwall.

  • Today’s mileage: 44.7 miles
  • Total mileage:     94.95 miles
  • Desasters:   1 – the headwinds

We woke early to clear skies and sunshine.

The morning view from our tent…

Coffee and porrage for breakfast before packing quickly to get on the road – the forecast says bad rain at 4pm.

The sunshine lasted till about mid-day by which time we’d seen…

  • Stones of Stenness where we met a woman called Elaine from Cockers – whats the chances…
  • Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig. This was the last day of the dig for some unknown reason. Really helpful and enthusiastic staff.
  • Ring of Brodgar stone circle. Not as good as the one in Keswick but what do I know…
  • The site of Skara Brae though we didn’t go in because we’d not booked 😥
  • The Brough of Birsay island. Pretty rock cave.
Stones of Stennes…
Ness of Brodgar archeological dig…
Info on the Ness dig…

All very nice but none of that was top of my “to see” list. Top of my list was the village of Twatt. Being a 55 year old with the mental age of 16 I found that village name highly amusing and wanted to visit for a selfie. Sad I know…

Sarah, being a grown up wanted to stick to the EV route so we parted ways at Scorne and arranged to meet at The Barony.

I struck out on my own with a little snigger and had soon detoured to Twatt. Though there was no Twatt ! The map said it was there, the gps said i was there but there was no place names anywhere. Even Twatt farm had no sign.

I was distraught. How could the residents of Twatt not have signs ? We’re they so humourless to not be proud Twattians ?

Then I saw it – a faded sign on a church bench – Twatt church. I got my selfie 😁

Twatt church – the only Twatt sign in Twatt…

Happy now I pushed on and caught up with Sarah just outside Northside to report on the lack of Twatt in Twatt…

It was at this point the headwind really kicked in and reduced us to a crawl in places. Progress was slow but the scenery was beautiful in a barren sort of way.

We got to a junction by a disused quarry and there it was…

A sign to the village with no name…

From here on it was just hard going. The wind seemed to be relentless and always in our face. The last 15 miles to Kirkwall were a sense of humour test…

We arrived at the camp site at 4pm and just got the tent up before the heavens opened. More biblical rain. Weve been stuck in the tent since then. This is how the rain radar sees our situation…

Anyway a summary of todays ride…