The overnight rain ceased in time for our departure into the mist. We were stopped in our tracks a mile outside Rogart by the amazing sight of a garden decorated to mark the queen’s diamond jubilee. We weren’t sure what to make of it, was it a tribute or a parody? The ten miles to Lairg were easy, fairly flat with no wind to hinder us. This was the only town on the day’s route so we shopped for lunch and dinner then called in on the excellent Pier Cafe on the way out of town for some lovely cake and coffee. It’s in a new building overlooking the loch and incorporates a craft centre. The wood burning stove warmed us up and we chatted to a young Polish couple who were on their way to the far northwest for a job in Durness, so we didn’t leave until 11:30.
We rode due north through the wild empty moorland. The rain held off and we were treated to bursts of sunshine as the wind increased from the north, slowing us down. We found a sheltered picnic spot by a stream and then pressed on to Altnaharra. We could have had a rest in the pub but Rowan was ahead and hadn’t stopped so we had no option but to carry on up the hill into the wind. We even had to pedal downhill to Loch Loyal. A trio of cheery foreign cyclists riding south were the first cycle tourists we’d seen since a solitary rider in Banff.
We dropped down to the Tongue SYHA hostel at 17:30, arriving at the same time as a young man nearing the finish of the end-to-end from Lands End. He surprised us by revealing that he hated cycling and was only doing it as a charity fundraiser for a local childrens hospital. A number of other cyclists were staying but they were all on assisted tours where their luggage is transported by vehicle and all their food, accommodation and even tea breaks are provided, which diminishes the challenge.