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Home Travel StoriesAndy's Scottish Expedition

Out Of The Good Stuff, Into The Weather

By Andy Gray

Day 11: Durness to Dunbeath 140 miles

How to sum up today? Windy, wet and a bit boring this afternoon!

I went to the pub next to the campsite last night as it is the only place nearby. Managed to snag the last Crofters Grill which was a proper mixed grill with steak, lamb chop, gammon, sausage, black pudding, onion rings, mushrooms & chips. It was very tasty and a bargain for £13. I was just having a second pint when in walked three guys I’d said hello to at the campsite in Applecross.

They were a mixed bunch - age 54, 60 & 66. The youngest two live in Essex & met in the logistics corp and they met the older guy working later. They have a "lads" trip away each year and this year was the turn of the youngest (& fittest) to organise a trip. Talk about military planning, there were maps, itineraries, photos! He was sleeping in a camper van but the older two were in tents and were struggling with the chilly conditions over the last couple of days. Spent another enjoyable few pints exchanging tales until we were (politely) asked to leave as the barman wanted to go home.

I was asleep before midnight but woke at 3am due to the beer. Then I struggled to get back to sleep with the sound of the strong wind & occasional heavy shower until morning. Luckily due to the wind, the tent was dry in the morning.

Headed out around 10am and drove the short distance to Smoo Cave where I wandered down the steps to the cove & cave. The first cave is a sea cave and the second was formed by a river. No boat running today Kelvin.

Looking out from the dark cave to a steep and rocky cove at smoo cave
Smoo Cave
Looking upwards we see a rough hole in the top of the craggy cave where the light pours in
Smoo Cave's blow hole
Looking into the cave it is rocky, craggy and rough with just a small wooden walkway
More Smoo Cave
Looking down into the steep and rocky cove with the mouth of smoo cave at the bottom
Smoo Cove.

After climbing back up the steps it was back on the bike and heading east. There was a short run along the rugged coast before following the shore of Loch Eriboll several miles inland then several miles back towards the sea on the other shore. A huge sea loch surrounded by moorland & high hills. Plus what seems to be the penultimate Rock Route stop.

A board hardy moor leads down to the loch shore, with mountains in the grey skies beyond
Loch Eriboll
Loch Eriboll with grassy outlets, rolling hills and heavy skies
More Loch Eriboll

Next up was Tongue with rain & rainbows. I stopped at the general store to get a cuppa and bumped into an America couple who had owned a few BMW R series bikes. Couldn’t find an "I ❤️ Tongue" sticker and there didn’t seem to be anywhere else to look.

A rainbow carves across the sky ending in a hill by the shores of a loch in Tongue, Scotland
Tongue Rainbow

Next was another stretch of crossing hills & moorland away from the sea before reaching Bettyhill on the coast. Saw signs for a cafe so decided to stop for breakfast & lunch at The Store Cafe. Interesting place where you pretty much help yourself to a tea pot, your favourite type of tea, a cup and some milk from the fridge. You can also help yourself to various different cakes. Homemade tomato soup & a sandwich filled a gap and warmed me up.

Lookin to the window we see an old settee, binoculars on the windowsill and the hills
View from The Store Cafe, Bettyhill
ROLLING HILLS AND MOORLAND with a handful of white painted houses of Bettyhill
Another View from The Store Cafe, Bettyhill

An even longer stretch away from the sea with the land gradually getting flatter (& boring). The weather decided it was going to make it more interesting by throwing in the occasional shower to go with the strong side winds.

After a quick photo stop in Thurso I headed out onto Dunnet Head with its lighthouse and RSPB reserve. Thing is it was too windy for the birds as I only saw one in flight.

Remote and lonely houses and the remains of a building on the shore at Thurso
Thurso
A stone bridge with arches spans a river in the small town of Thurso
More Thurso
Andy stands by the stone sign telling Dunnet Head is the most northerly point of the mainland
Guess Where I am?

Next stop was John O’Groats for the obligatory signpost photo with & without the bike. Not really that much there to see especially as it was so windy & wet.

Andy with the bike, andy without the bike at the signpost of John-O-Groats
Guess Where I am again.

All that was left was a quick jaunt down the east coast to Dunbeath, only enlivened by views of oil rigs and off shore wind farms. I was accompanied by scattered showers and more strong winds, at least it was mainly from behind now. Luckily I can see more mountains further south.

I’m staying on a very small campsite called Inver Park caravan site. Luckily there is a restaurant just down the road.

A vivid narrow rainbow over the green grass at the campsite
Inver caravan park rainbow.


If you've a travel tale to tell then click here.

Llangollen Andy starts his trip to Scotland... by going to Wales! It is a long way from London Village to The Highlands though, give the man a break.
Friends And Finally Scotland Day 2 and 3 of Andy's Scottish expedition - and he's only just reached the borders. He's having way too much fun and should be focused on heading North.
Bad Weather, Brilliant Roads Andy's first proper ride into Scotland is proving to be a cracker even if the weather is dire.
Exploring Arran and The Mull Of Kintyre There's wildlife and scenery aplenty for Andy as he explores Arran and The Kintyre Peninsula. "Mixed" weather is keeping him on his toes though.
Easy Onto Mull Andy is taking in the splendid West Coast of Scotland at a sensible pace. From the Kintyre Peninsula to the Isle Of Mull there's a lot to take in.
Walking On Iona Andy is using Shank's Pony to get himself around the small island of Iona. Thing is the island isn't quite as small as Andy's feet had hoped for.
Mulling Around To The Mainland When Tobermory is a major town you know you've been somewhere remote. Andy is making his way up the West Coast of Scotland now.
Bealach na Bà Ain't So Bad Andy is making his excuses for a late start today, but it's all self-inflicted. It's time to be overwhelmed by the not really scary Applecross road.
The Wonder Of The West Coast Andy is up on the West Coast of The Scottish Highlands now, and it shows with his achingly beautiful pictures.
The Wonder Of Even More West Coast Andy is exploring the remote and lonesome shores of the North West of Scotland. Geology, beauty and single track, all in another day's ride in The Highlands.
Out Of The Good Stuff, Into The Weather After The splendour of The Highlands and West Coast of Scotland Andy is now at the top of the country. Is there much to report?

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Love rainbows, hate rain. Unfortunately we need rain to get the other. Such is life.
Thanks Andy.
Upt'North.
13/3/2020 1:26:32 PM UTC
Andy said :-
There were plenty of rainbows seen over the two weeks but luckily plenty of sunshine as well.
29/3/2020 4:59:16 PM UTC

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