Here's a couple of days in one go. I thought that Carey's Guest House didn't have WiFi but chatting to them, they gave me the password. So here we are, on-line.
Wednesday 12th May 2010
Awake at 05:30 - I’m and early riser! - and looked out of the window to see rain. Edinburgh in the rain - not a pretty sight. The dorm filled up during the evening, and all four double bunks were occupied. I dozed a while, then turned my light on for a read. At 7, I got up, washed and went down for breakfast. The place was filled with school kids, all well behaved, and I scoffed my Continental Breakfast washing it down with three cups of tea.
Then after packing up my stuff, I wandered up Leith Walk to Waverly for the 09:35 for Perth. The rain had stopped, but the pavements were wet and chilly. The rain cleared however as the train left and headed out of the city. In fact the weather was glorious all the way to Wick. Long may it continue.
The journey to Perth was a little boring, but a couple of highlights were the Forth Rail Bridge and the views back across the Forth. I was a little shocked to see the snow on the hills south of Edinburgh!
At Inverness on time, I boarded the Wick train. I was last on this train in 1994 and so asked the guard about Georgemas Junction and how the train had split there - one half to Thurso, the other half to Wick. He laughed, and said that it hadn’t been like that for years and that the train goes to Thurso first, comes back to Georgemas, and then off to Wick. Oh well, that must be why it takes an age to get Wick, and for all you railway buffs out there, Georgemas Junction is the most northerly junction in Britain.
The Wick train stops at just about every single station enroute from Inverness:
Muir of Ord
Georgemas Junction (again)
Wick at last, and on time too!!!!
A short walk to Carey’s Guest House, and I checked in. I told the proprietor of my plans, and he offered to drive me to Wick Airport in the morning. I declined saying I wanted the exercise, but thinking about it, I may take him up on the offer. The sooner I get to Chopper the better.
A quick shower then out to Wetherspoons - recommended by my host - and Deuchar’s IPA at only £1.10 a pint. How can you pay £2.90 or even £3.10 in Edinburgh, and then £1.10 for the exact same beer in Wick? It beggars belief. Anyway, I shoved a steak and kidney pud with chips and peas down my neck with another pint, then wandered back to Carey’s, and then was sitting on my bed shortly after 8pm.
Tomorrow the blog really starts. Wick to JOG and back to Wick.
Thursday 13th May 2010
Awake early, and then down for a huge breakfast at 07:30. Yum! I spoke to the owner (John) and he agreed to take me to Wick Airport at 08:30 hopefully to get a nice early start. The weather was clear and bright, with no sign of rain. Ha Ha.
I found Andrew Bruce of Far North Aviation upstairs in an old airport building and introduced myself. We chatted about this and that, and he told me to go along the taxi-way to the big hanger and see John.
Chopper and Trailer revealed themselves easily, and I began assembling it all. Ten minutes later, my rig was complete, and then in the chilly hanger, I dressed into my cycling gear. As the wind rattled the doors and the roof, I shivered into my gear, warming all the time.
The wind was strong and bowling me along nicely, and before I knew it, I was climbing the final hill and dropping down to JOG. 17 miles easily done and non-stop too with a good following wind. The trouble is, with a good wind one way, you know full well that it will be awful going back the other way .......
At JOG, I chatted to a carpark attendant and sorted my video and camera. Then I met the photographer at the kiosk and paid for a couple of colour prints. I wheeled my rig over to the finger-post and asked Mr Photo to fit “Gunnislake School” onto the finger. Great stuff, and he took a shot using my camera too! The cost was £12odd for two prints posted to home. I’ll do similar at LE.
Off up the long hill and south and into the rain. It had started to drizzle and spit and then really rain, and as the wind had got up to a frenzy, the rain just came in horizontally into my face. It was a long way back to Wick I can tell you! The hills, though not steep, are long and endless in a deserted landscape - or should I say Moonscape. I was in near-bottom gear just going along in places! I managed an average of 13mph going, but coming back was a pityful 8mph.
Back at Cary’s, I wheeled Chopper in through the gate and into the back garden. I’ll need to sort my stuff out and re-arrange things between panniers and box. That’s a job for later or even tomorrow before leaving.
I have 50 miles to ride to Golspie. As I remember it, all I have to worry about are the major hills: climbing Navidale and down to Helmsdale, then climbing out of Berridale. But that’s tomorrow and another day .........
See you later!