Durness coastline by Smoo Cave

09:30 was an early start by our modest standards as we launched ourselves at the causeway carrying the A838 across the Kyle of Tongue. The hill at the other side was too early in the day for my taste but we pressed on past the head of Loch Hope and on to Loch Eriboll. The day had started brightly but by now the clouds had descended and mist and drizzle preceded the persistent rain which forced us to don waterproofs for the first time.

We had to cycle to the end of the loch before rounding it and traversing the entire western shore and on to Durness, the most north westerly settlement in mainland Britain. The rain and strong winds spoilt the fun of this but a café eight miles from our destination provided refuge, not to mention a good cup of coffee, toasted teacakes and delicious ginger cake. Like me, the owner had spend a large part of his childhood admiring the steam trains at York station and was, like most Yorkshiremen, a splendid fellow as well as a baker of fine cakes. We watched our bikes cop a drenching as the rain increased in intensity and when it was safe to leave we completed the run into the village, entering it to blue sky and sunshine!

Durness boasts an independent hostel as well as the rather basic SYHA building. Christine preferred the look of the former so we booked in and chatted with Fiona and Robbie, the friendly young local couple who run The Lazy Crofter. We looked at the intriguing Smoo Caves but the boat trips inside weren’t running.

Back at the hostel, an entry in the guest book related how a cyclist had made the trek up here four times but had still failed to make Cape Wrath: twice the ferry service was suspended due to bad weather, once the foot and mouth disease restrictions of 2001 had prevented access and once the army had closed the peninsula for exercises.

Cape Wrath