Uphill, wet and windy

I remember sitting at home Googling Cape Wrath, the most north western tip of mainland Great Britain. To get there you have to get the ferry at the Kyle of Durness. Then, having crossed there is an 11 mile ride to reach the lighthouse at the end. Anyone without a bike gets to ride there and back on a minibus.

The road surface is apparently dreadful, and it takes a while. The ferry timimgs are dependent on passenger numbers and are worked out each day between the ferryman and the minibus driver.

At this time of year the first crossing happens at 11:00 if there are enough passengers. I planned to travel on Monday from Tongue, arrive at Durness for 11:00 and catch the ferry. I booked B&B at Durness so that there was no long ride to do after the return journey, and also to give me a second chance on Tuesday if anything went wrong on Monday.

So all going nicely on Monday, except there’s too much hill climbing and 11:00 is hopelessly optimistic. It was a lovely ride around Loch Eriboll in the warm sunshine though.

Then suddenly the wind got up, picked up a few tons of water, and threw it at me. Within a couple of minutes I was soaked through and riding with that wind side-on was just unsafe madness. Even walking with the wind I had to hold the brakes on just to stop it running off with my bike. Fortunately my B&B was very close so I abandoned the ferry plan and got booked in. The rest of the day was a washout weatherwise and it turns out there had been no crossings anyway. Oh well, Plan B, try again on Tuesday. My Tuesday stop was just about 15 miles from Durness, so again no long ride after the return crossing. Planning!

The weather forecast for Tuesday was grim, and the ferryman was not intending to make any crossings. Rain and very strong winds were expected with a window of a couple of hours from about 08:00 where the wind would ease a bit.

Breakfast didn’t start until 08:00 so a good bit of the window was lost to the yoghurt and muesli. The rest of it was lost through my visits to the most north westerly craft village, the most north westerly golf course, and the place from which no ferries would be sailing. Then the weather did it’s thing again, with torrents of water thrown with immense and painful force in my face, for the several hours it took me to do the 15 miles to my Tuesday stop. Throw in a few motorists of the type that drive according to the conditions i.e. the conditions are atrocious so their driving is atrocious, and it really was an ordeal.

Tomorrow, in fact any day, is likely to be better. I’ll carry on for a bit. As for Cape Wrath, I have abandoned it. Skipping a 22 mile round-trip to a dead-end is within the rules.