JOGLE Day Minus 1 – Thurso Bound

Another early start so that we could get on the road and not have to rush was rewarded by some amazing views through Glencoe with the low morning sun lighting the mountains.

We set off from the Youth Hostel is Crianlarich at around 6:30am after a quick coffee and made our way towards Fort William. There was very little traffic on the road, but a number of cyclist, many of whom we presumed were doing either JOGLE or LEJOG depending on which way they were travelling.

Morgan was impressed with the mountains, the lochs and the general scenery through this part of Scotland and Anna and I were beginning to relax into the Scottish pace of life too. We always feel at home in the Highlands and Islands.

Thanks to the easy driving, lack of traffic and fast roads we arrived in Fort William earlier than expected but stopped for a McDOnalds breakfast anyway and to buy some lunch from Morrisons before heading off again to dirve along the shores of Loch Ness. We could have gone to Thurso via the Ciarngorms which is slightly quicker but Morgan wanted to see Loch Ness so we went this way. We stopped briefly at Urquhart Castle and then also at Inverness which was probably our last chance to find an Argos or a Halfords in which to buy a bike lock – we had forgotten to bring ours.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, my iPhone and Google Maps we found Argos easily and were kept entertained on our journey with podcasts and Spotify playlists.

We headed ever further north and onto unfamiliar roads in the form of the A9. This was the road we would be cycling along tomorrow on Day 1 of our JOGLE ride so it was good to see what was in store for us, even if there were some quite big hills. We stopped for a picnic lunch in the sunshine and soaring temperatures in the dunes behind Dornoch beach. There was at least a cooling breeze here on the coast. We then continued northwards on the A9 into a thick sea mist as we climbed up the hills into Caithness.

Dornoch

Dornoch

We took the turning off towards Thurso and our hostel for the night which took us along an amazing road across the moorlands. The road was straight, fast and quiet so we arrived in good time and went straight to the hostel. This one was a little more salubrious than yesterdays, above a fish and chip shop which itself was next to a Chinese takeway and an Indian Take Way and opposite, yep, you’ve guessed it another fish and chip take away. The was a slight air of chip fat but nothing too bad and the rooms looked OK. There was also breakfast in the form of help yourself cereals and toast included in the price and as much free tea and coffee as you wanted. There was also free Wi-Fi which is always nice.

The others that we were meeting for JOGLE were travelling up from Bristol. Despite having a longer journey than us they left after us so weren’t due to arrive for a while. Brad, Eloise, Pete, Matt and Mike were in one van and Jay, Ian, Kevin and Richie were in another. They weren’t sue to arrive until about 7:30-8pm so Anna, Morgan and I headed off to wander around Thurso.

We did a couple of geocaches along the river and then sat watching salmon jump in the river as we looked out across Thurso East. There was no surf which was probably a good thing as I had no means of surfing. There was however an otter playing by the rocks which was really nice to see. We then walked along the beach paddling in the cool sea water before heading off to Tesco for some supplies and then back to the hostel to chill and wait for the others.

Once the others were here it was a hectic scramble to get the bolognese that Eloise had brought heated up and the pasta cooked before we all ate, chatted, made tentative plans for the morning and then headed off to bed.

Check back later for photos.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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