Day 1 – Wick to Melvich via John O’ Groats
Day 1 – Wick to Melvich via John O’ GroatsApril
Day 1 was finally here, after the exhausting journey up to Wick yesterday I was ready to get started on the first milestone, John O’ Groats. I arrived at my wild camp spot at Noss Head at about 23:00 the previous night in complete darkness. There was nobody else around as you would expect so I threw the tent up and tried to get as much sleep as possible. I only managed to get about 3 hours sleep in total as I spent most of the night dealing with leg cramps. This way probably because I pushed a bit to hard to get to my wild camp spot last night, which was much fuhrer away from the train station than I had expected it to be. It was also at least partially down to dehydration as I’d run out of water and there was no way of getting any until the morning. As if the cramps weren’t bad enough I got out of the tent at some point for a pee and managed to step in a dog poo. I didn’t realize that this had happened until I had already climbed back into the tent. Its fair to say my mood as this point was not great.
Day light finally arrived and it was time to pack up and get the adventure started. Packing everything away took a lot longer than expected, not helped by the gusty wind conditions. Once on the road I headed back to Wick and into Tesco’s to pick up food for the next few days and some much needed water. I was still unsure what to do with the bike so I locked it up at the designated bike locking area and threw all of the pannier into a shopping cart. Just as I was about to leave I met a group of cyclists who had just finished the North Coast 500. They were interested to hear what I was up to and thought that I was a little crazy to be attempting 2,500 miles on my first bike tour. They also laughed at me when I told them I’d taken my panniers into the shop in the shopping cart.
I packed away the food and left Tesco’s an hour or 2 behind schedule. Shortly after departing the sun decided to make an appearance so I pulled over, took off my waterproofs and enjoyed a few miles of warm sunshine. The ride up to John ‘O Groats seemed to take forever, I kept checking the trip computer to see how far I’d gone but the distance seemed to be ticking up incredibly slowly. Later in the day I released I had configured the trip computer to the wrong wheel size and consequently the distance and speed shown was completely off. About half way between Wick and John O’ Groats the wind picked up and the skies began to darken. When I reached John O’ Groats the rain had returned and it was time to get the waterproofs back on.
I rode over to the sign post to grab a couple of pictures but the place was deserted, probably due to the rain. Sadly this meant there was nobody around to take my picture and I’m not really one for selfies. I returned to the car park and hid in the bus shelter 10 minutes to see if the rain would ease off. Thankfully it did, in fact it returned to blue skies again surprisingly quickly. After fixing the settings on the trip computer I returned to the sign once more and found someone to take my picture. There wasn’t much else to do in John O’ Groats other than the obligatory photo next to the sign so I got back on the bike and headed west.
The weather remained unsettled for the rest of the day, frequently changing between blue skies, rain and hail showers. The roads were nice quiet and remained reasonable flat for the rest of the day. The weather and the building head wind didn’t help progress and I ended up only covering around 50 miles, quite a way down on the 72 mile target but there’s plenty of days left to make that up so I won’t worry about it for now.
I spent the last hour of the day trying to find somewhere suitable to wild camp but there was only flat and open farm land with very little opportunities to get out of sight from the main road. I eventually found a camp site at Melvich and pitched up there for the night. The opportunity to use a shower and a toilet were very welcome. By the time I had the tent up I was becoming deliriously tired due to the terrible nights sleep I had last night. One slight concern is that I’ve started to develop a sore arse already, I’ve cycled over 2,000 miles in training and never had any problems yet here I am on day 1 and its sore already.