Day 1 (6th Aug 17 - John O'Groats - Kirkwall then overnight ferry to Lerwick)

 

 

Breakfast of slices of porridge with more jam than porridge. (I thought it was only IrnBru that was "made of girders in Scotland") Very nice though.

 

Set off for ferry for 8.45. Came across 2 women cleaning loos arguing in two languages!!

Only took 40 mins to get over on the ferry.

 

 

Stayed inside on ferry as very bracing!! Set off up to the OIad summit, past the Churchill barriers (Link). Stopped at the fossil museum (Link) for tea and cake, past more barriers and old shipwrecks and on to the Italian Chapel (Link).

 

Have to say I found the story of the chapel very moving. The grand- daughter of the person who saw them off gave us a talk about it. Cycled by a Viking totem pole - one of the many strange things I was to come across in remote spots.

 

Stopped at Dingyshowe bay  beach, paddled in minus degrees sea and ate more sweets before exploring the headland of Dearness.

Sadly, saw dead bunny and wanted to stop to bury it!

Loads of geese and oyster catchers everywhere.

 

Had ham and egg mayonnaise sandwiches in sun (with coat off!!)  at Deerness Shop where they serve tea. (I was to find that almost all remote shops serve tea on the islands)

 

Went down to look at wildlife at farthest tip of Deerness (the Gloup and visitor centre) (Link). Passed a busy motor cross event!!! As if! You come to the most remote tip of a remote island and there it is !!! - bikes whizzing about like a bunch of mad buzzing wasps ZzzzzZzzzzz

 

Came back to the high points of Deerness then down, whizzing past the locals at 30 miles an hour or more.

Went back down to beach again only to find upon my return that John ate all the Aero Bubbles!! More loos and more teas.  

 

Explored Tankerness and saw aeroplanes, looking tiny taking off from Kirkwall.

Came upon Kirkwall Airport (more tea and cake - get used to this it was the norm) runways strange looking. Some very posh houses nearby - clearly the money area of Kirkwall. 

 

Saw loads of cows of differing types which is so different to the one breed we see at home, but Orkney is famous for its dairy and ice cream. No potholes, good riding. Hilly but not too bad. Please note the NO POTHOLES - so unlike home where you have to watch the road constantly for holes and cycling road traps like sewers / drains.

 

Fell asleep in airport before cycling to our first days finish downhill into Kirkwall.

Looked at old sail square rigger ship in harbour and Kirkwall's famous red sandstone St Magnus Cathedral (Link).

Found Busters American Diner restaurant to eat (John been before). (Link)

Lovely food and lots of tea. John booked ferry by phone whilst we waited.  

Arrived at ferry terminal quite cold but soon warmed up with Mel’s fluffy top and long trousers.  

 

Today - felt a bit strange embarking on the unknown but once I got riding I felt ok.

Physically only felt my hand go even more numb. Emotionally felt mixed up - pleased to have embarked on this challenge with John but sad that I have left the girls. 

 

The Italian chapel was very moving and the scenery is magnificent. With lots of beaches it really takes your breath away. I have been very well looked after and John really is an attentive partner.  

 

First day done - 53 miles and roughly 5:30 hours riding time.

Went over 30 miles an hour at one point which was really scary! OMG!!  Don't tell the girls