G'day from cloudy Edinburgh. Yes, I know the title says John O'Groats, but really I'm in Edinburgh. JOG was a bit of a tourist trap (plenty of those about) and featured a tacky privately owned signpost. The post is set up each day by the photographer who will put your name on the sign and take your photo for £9.50 upwards (for a print). Needless to say I gave that a miss - the shot you see here is the view out past his sign and the hat is real!
The ride up from Applecross featured more lovely open highland scenery and windy, bumpy roads. The wind was blowing as hard as Albany/Esperance and made me feel right at home! I hadn't really set out to do so, but seeing as I was this close, thought I'd head for the top of Scotland. My last night on Skye I didn't sleep very well and i felt quite crook as I pushed on further north. As the day went on I felt better though and eventually set a pretty good time for my final run into Ullapool. The place was packed for the weekend so I camped around the road a bit further at a site windy enough to keep away the midgees.
People at the campsite told me Durness was more beautiful then JOG so I set out for it as well. Durness is another pretty little village clinging to the coastline in the wind. Must have been very rocky before all the rocks were made into walls! i really anjoyed the country from there to JOG, it opens out into rolling farmland, the roads are a bit smoother and the weather as usual for this trip, was sunny & warm albeit windy.
I turned off for Dunnet Head and when I arrived felt a strange sense of occasion. I'm not sure I ever really expected to see so much of the world and standing on the northern tip of Britain struck me as special. You'll notice I'm on the phone in the pic's - sharing this special moment with my wife. I have enjoyed frequent communication with her throughout the trip and really feel I am sharing the journey with her. This has made it much better than travelling truly alone.
From Dunnet the JOG only takes a few minutes so away I went. Tourist busses, fake sign, caravan park, the place was a bit over the top really (pardon the pun), so I didn't stay long.
From JOG one either goes south, or gets wet, so I took the former option. Had no idea (as usual) where to stop for the night, had been riding much of the day so thought I would go to Inverness.
I expected a drab place but Inverness looked nice to me. Cafes by the water, it looked very inviting in the setting sun, all the B&Bs had 'no vacancies' signs up though so after a quick ride past of the cafe strip I rode out of town towards Loch Ness. An Australian can't come to Scotland without seeing Loch Ness I thought. I found a B&B open, booked in and ran down to the Dores Inn looking for a meal. It goes dark here at about 11.30pm but the kitchen closed at 9pm off course - I so had sticky date pudding for main course! Afterward though i walked a few yards to the Loch (the pub is on the bank) and it really is beautiful. The caravan selling 'Nessie' souvenirs nearby seemed to cheapen the experience a little and I thought it sad and stupid that someone had dreamt up the monster story - no I don't believe it.
Hey this is a long blog - I'm not doing several today, you can work out where Edinburgh is on the map without a new blog entry I'm sure. I find logging on to e-mails, the blog and uploading all my photos (the blog albums only contain about 20% of all my photo's) takes a lot of time when I'm trying to see the country. It's hard to go inside to do computer work when the sun is shining!
I rode a lot of back roads from LN to Edinburgh and gave Perth a miss in the end. I have been to two Perths and must say neither has really inspired me so I felt no compulsion to see a third! Perthshire was great though, I had been told the east coast was not worth seeing, but I enjoyed the countryside.
Last night I rolled into Edinburgh in the rain, tired and with balding tires so stopped in an old fashioned guest house for the night to get off the road. This morning went to the castle for a look - was interesting, saw the changing of the guard. I thought it an interesting way to spend some of one's precious lifetime, marching around outside a castle for tourists to watch. However we're all different and I'm sure they would wonder why a motorcyclist stops to shear sheep.
With what's left of the day I'm going to bid farewell to bonnie scotland and set off back into England now, where I'll picy up a part for the bike before looking to cross into Europe. I'll keep you posted.