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Thursday 20th June

  • From: Tain
  • To: Tongue
  • LEJOG miles cycled: 65.27 (62 planned)
  • Miles cycled: 1010.61
  • Map of the Journey 

When we reached the far village of Tongue,
I suddenly thought I was Jung!
I lost sight of my ego –
Now which way did he go?
Perhaps he’s gone back whence he sprung.

Another good B&B last night and we set off at 9am after going to the cash machine and updating the blog. The first few miles were on the A9 but thankfully we had a side part of the road inside the white line and the road was not too busy. We skirted Dornoch Firth before crossing the Kyle river to Bonar Bridge for the first pit stop.

The sluggishness of yesterday was gone – the four J2Os had done the trick last night!

We stopped at every café/pub/hotel/inn en route today as apart from these first few miles up to Lairg the route was essentially crossing wilderness and everything is isolated.

We stopped, after Lairg, at the Falls of Shin, to play tourist for a moment. Our planned stop for tea here was abandoned as the visitor centre had been destroyed by fire.

After the Falls of Shin everything became totally isolated and the road to Tongue is perhaps candidate for the most remote in the UK. We passed few people, few vehicles (and few passed us) and saw no sheep in this wilderness which is mainly shooting estates. The next stop was candidate for the most remote pub in the UK, the famous Crask Inn, whose bar is the size of a large living room. There are few habitats for miles bar the one croft along the road and yet upon arrival, the inn was packed to the gunnels with some sort of church meeting with the vicar at the middle.  There was no one behind the bar but the owner/barman popped up from the meeting and served us.

Off we went, suitably refreshed, and travelled a further 10 miles or so to the Altnaharra Hotel for tea where we were received in perhaps the plushest lounge of the trip so far. This was a hotel lounge bear in mind – all soft furnishings – we felt rather out of place, but were served anyway.

More wilderness and onto the most remote cross roads in the UK. Best get the direction right here or it will be a long detour!

Wilderness and lochs now as we descended smoothly and quickly downhill for miles passing  Ben Kilbreck, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope. In particular Ben Loyal looked spectacular and we saw it from a number of aspects as we approached Tongue.

We seemed to exit wilderness very close to Tongue which appeared out of nowhere and we descended into the lovely loch and valley head below Ben Loyal of which we had excellent views from our B&B for this evening. This was a mile from the hotel where we could get food and drink so we had a walk in the drizzle there but largely stayed dry on the way back, thankfully.

Well that is the penultimate day done and fantastic riding it provided – perhaps the easiest day so far with us doing over 60 miles between 9 and 5!

Tomorrow sees the final push to John O'Groats (64 miles) but we then need to do an extra 16 to the B&B in Wick as we have an early train from Wick on Saturday morning – a journey I am looking forward to immensely. It is beginning to look like we might complete LEJOG after all.

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