Day 12 | 5th July

Day 12

Good morning and goodbye Dingwall. It’s time to hit the road again, heading to Tain where I’m meeting a good friend who might help to decide which route to take to get to my destination.

Tain

Tain – pretty sure the coast in the horizon is where I’m heading

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A wee stop over for a pie and a coffee with Scott. We have discussed the further plan of action, he has given me a tub of macaroni cheese and a wee bottle of Ardbog single malt for dinner.

So it’s decided, – I’ll be taking the east coast approach, through Helmsdale and Wick, which will also allow me to pass through John O’ Groats, – might as well..

Great Scott

A Russian Bear and a Scottish Bear meet in Tain

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So I head on towards Dornoch Firth Bridge along A9 which by now has turned into a very pleasant coastal road.

As I approach Golspie, the infamous statue of George Leveson-Gower, a man responsible for clearances in the early nineteenth century, is peering over the coast from the top of Ben Bhraggie.

Golspie

“Mannie” is still standing on the top of the hill, but for how much longer?

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Golspie Beach

The road surface is becoming tricky at Golspie Beach

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A fish supper is in, and I keep on cruising up the coastal route till I get to Helmsdale.

Helmsdale

Helmsdale

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“East coast is easy”, – I think to myself as I pull over on Helmsdale bridge.

Spoke too soon again. The elevation diagram below describe of what was awaiting me round the corner. Helmsdale is at the 90km mark. Two steep climbs, both with drops back down to sea level, were good reminders that I still had to earn my cycling miles here.

Day 12 Charts

I power through the two climbs in the 1st and 2nd gears, the sun is out and the beautiful coastal line is stretching up ahead. The time is 5:30pm and my next campsite is only a few miles away.

Approaching Dunbeath

Approaching Dunbeath

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Having cycled along the sunny east coast, I pitch at the wee Inver Caravan Park, overlooking the North Sea and the Hills of Caithness. As I set up my tent, I can’t help smiling knowing that I’m only 50 miles away from the cliffs of Dunnet Head. I could theoretically make a final push for a few more hours and get there tonight, but I want to enjoy and savour the last leg of my journey.

Inver Caravan Park - Dunbeath

Inver Caravan Park – Dunbeath

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Talking of enjoying and savouring, tonight’s grub is an absolute treat from Mr.Bannerman I met earlier in Tain. This macaroni cheese is the tastiest meal of the trip so far, hand down.. The Tranjia stove perfectly bakes some of the cheese and this heavenly treat disappears into oblivion that is my stomach in minutes.

Scott's Macaroni Cheese

Great Scott’s Macaroni Cheese

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This is a gorgeous evening by all accounts. The landscape, the sunshine and the warm air all get to my head and makes me go all hippy, organic and soft.

So I float around the area like a dandelion seed on it’s parachute taking pictures of all around me:

Dunbeath 1

Dunbeath 7

Dunbeath 2

Dunbeath 6

Dunbeath 4

Dunbeath 3

Dunbeath 5

Dunbeath Pitch

Having taken a lot of fresh air in, I go all sleepy, roll into my tent and peacefully pass out.

Dunnet Head is to be mounted by the bear tomorrow!

Next Day..

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