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Day 10 – The Crask Inn to John O’Groats

In Cycling most of Land's End to John O'Groats | 28 Apr 2023 | cycling

Another good day that includes lovely riding over windswept moorland, riding and chatting to another LEJOG cyclist for about an hour, and getting to the end of the road: John O’Groats.

The morning started well with cereal and then a modest (at my request, still being a bit cautious) cooked breakfast at the Crask Inn. Left at about 8:15am with even more lovely riding than when I arrived: same great roads and scenery but slightly down as opposed to slightly up. The weather wasn’t quite as good though, low cloud and a sprinkle of rain here and there, not quite enough to put on rain gear.

Moorland, tarn and hills

Moorland, tarn and hills. Ahh! Open space

It felt great to be moving swiftly in the open moorland, gently watching the changing landscape. After about 20 miles I descended to Tongue and the Tongue Bay. From here the route turns to the east, essentially parallel to the northern shore of Scotland, coming close to the water at various bays/firths/kyles. In between, I was crossing moorland scenery as much as not, which was a pleasant surprise. Somehow I had expected a fringe of farmland along the coast but that wasn’t the case, often the moorland went to the cliffs.

Moorland and road

Moorland along the coast road between Tongue and Bettyhill

I stopped at a cafe in Bettyhill, 37 miles in. There I was caught by 4 guys I’d passed a few miles back. They were to be happy to be completing a longer LEJOG route they had done in multiple week-long trips over 10 years. Seems wonderful that they had stayed together with the project as a group.


Looking back at Bettyhill

After the easy initial riding of the day, following the coast eastward involved many moderately steep climbs and descents. I was feeling good so mostly ready to dig into the climbs.

Road showing surface change

Road surface makes a huge difference. Here, a welcome transition from bone rattling delaminated spray-on resurface to silky smooth new tarmac – yum!


Some spectacular banks of gorse in flower

The weather brightened up a bit but there remained a steely and heavy cloud layer above. Not much traffic on the roads though about half of it was camper vans of some sort (from small VW’s and Transits, up to smaller US style RV’s).

Road and sea and cloud

Road and sea and cloud

The cloud and the sea often seemed to merge smoothly. I took several shots looking out at promontories and islands but my phone camera isn’t up to the task.

At about 55 miles I caught up with another cyclist and ended up chatting with him for the next 10 or more miles into Thurso. He was a recently retired postman from Bristol who made very easy and engaging conversation. He was doing shorter legs and planned to complete the route from Thurso tomorrow, so I bid him farewell and continued on my merry way.

Rock fence

The rock changed to something well layered and suddenly all the fences were made of large flat sheets of rock

My way was very merry and at times I found myself daydreaming in an “I could just keep riding” kind of way. It seemed maybe a bit too soon to end.

View along coast

Looking forward along the coast and (not clear in the photo) to Orkney just north of Land’s End

The wind was quite strong and approximately from the south, so as my route zig-zagged from heading northeast to heading southeast I was sometimes with and sometimes against the wind. I’ve learned during this trip that when I wonder where the wind is, that means it is with me and I should enjoy it.

At some point my bike computer beeped, left turn! And there I was, cycling out toward the water and lots of John O’Groats signs. I was a little taken by surprise. Of course, first order of business was to find the sign for a photo.

Simeon by the John O'Groats sign

The obligatory second sign photo

Second order of business was to find somewhere inside for refreshments, and I was delighted to find a little brewery right there.

Beer and snacks

A brewery just 100m from the sign. It would have been rude not to. Also, the Groats Oatmeal Stout was delicious

After enjoying my beer and snacks, and some fish & chips, I rode the remaining 7 miles south to a B&B in Keiss. I’d cooled off and this was directly into the wind so I was both slow and bundled up in rain trousers, rain jacket, beany hat, and thick gloves – pretty much all my warm gear. I never got properly rained upon over 10 days which seems like a blessing.

A total of 96 miles today, with 5,600 feet of elevation gain. A little under 7 hours in the saddle and what seems my normal two and a half hours of stops. Great to finish feeling well and strong again, and pleased that my bike held out minus one spoke.

Day 10 route