Friday 20th April
This morning we were rudely awakened by an intruder of the winged variety. To our surprise a seagull had managed to enter the luggage area of our tent and made and attempt to steal our bread rolls! I shouted at it so loudly I probably woke up the entire campsite (at 6:30am)!
Although we awoke to sunshine the forecast was for heavy rain between 9 and 11am. As we were only doing 30 miles to Lochinver we decided to pack up camp, go for a long breakfast and miss the worst of the weather. Unfortunately it started raining an hour earlier than forecast and we got soaked packing up the tent…typical! We had actual breakfast in one cafe which was reasonably priced, but it was still raining when we had finished so we had pudding in another! I won’t be in a place with more than one cafe for a long time now so I thought I’d better make the most of it.
Finally on the road once the rain had cleared we were ready to clock some miles. Despite being my 56th day on the road I felt strong and had brought my climbing legs…which was lucky as even though the route was only 30 miles it would cover over 3000ft of climbing.
We soon turned off the main road and onto the coastal route which would lead us to Lochinver. This wasn’t part of the North Coast 500 route (probably because it was too narrow) so it felt quiet and like it was our own private path to adventure. The rain threatened and just as I said “it’s about to chuck it down” it did! Waterproofs at the ready we ploughed on along this little strip of scenic tarmac.
It was past lunch time and we were getting hungry, but today there were no cafes and nowhere to stop and get warm. I spotted the perfect place to pitch our tent and ride out the impending downpour – it was lucky that we have become so quick at this because as soon as Danny put in the last peg the heavens opened! Safely out of the rain we relaxed and ate our Tesco’s meal deals we picked up this morning. If it had not been only 20 miles into our route we could have stayed here all evening and camped as the location was idyllic, but that would have made tomorrow an even harder day.
About seven miles later we came across a book shop/cafe so we stopped in for a look and a cup of tea. This won the prize for steepest hill of the day as the ramp up to the shop was in excess of 20%! We met two ladies here who had cycled from Lochinver who informed us of the best places to pitch a tent in the village and also that it was a surprise 50th birthday party in the local pub this evening and that we should come down for the celebrations. They also said it was mostly downhill to the village which definitely wasn’t true!
We scoured Lochinver for the best places to camp and settled on a corner of the local playing field and set up camp here. There are plenty of hotels and BnB’s in the village but all were well above our budget, and besides we had become quite used to camping now.
Using the supplies we bought at the start of the day I cooked us gnocchi with a cheese sauce, spinach and peas, all in my small JetBoil pot. After washing up we thought it would be rude not to head to the local to join in the surprise party celebrations. We were too late for the actual surprise moment but enjoyed chatting to the (increasingly more drunk) locals. We were warned several times about the stags which roam the playing field at night but thought we were just being wound up…that was until we arrived back at our tent at around 10pm to find three fully grown stags! Thankfully they were more scared of us and trotted off to the other end of the field – I would have got a photo but it was too dark.
Tomorrow is my last day riding with Danny before he goes home. I’ve got so used to him being with me and it has been amazing to have him experience my challenge, I’m not sure if I will be able to readjust to being on my own again but I guess I will have to. But until then I’m going to enjoy every second of being with him.