So, today was very hard for two different reasons.  Firstly, the wind in the afternoon got very strong and was in our face all afternoon and secondly, because we are barking mad, we decided to take a detour from our planned route which added 10 miles and several hills to our task.  More of that later.

Before I get into the story of the day, I have to record two things that I never thought I'd hear my younger brother say.

1.  (before our day 6)  "I think I might use this 72 miler as a bit of a recovery ride"  and...

2.  (Midway though our Full Scottish breakfast today)  " I think I might be full up".

Back to the plot.

We decided to risk another curry last night as we are both mad on Indian food.  It was one of those good days, the Indian restaurant was 300 yards from the B&B, almost next to the cycle shop..  The food was superb.  I had a North Indian Garlic Chilli King Prwan and Ian had the same but with lamb.  If you happen to be in Dingwall, I highly recommend the Cafe India.

We were staying at the Fairfield House, a very nice house in Craig Road.  The owners, John and Eleanor Leitch were a lovely couple and we had several chats with them.  They had a lovely one year old dog, Gem, who loved fuss and sneaked into our room for some petting.  The picture shows our  3 hosts.  

John asked about our route and said if we had time to spare, we could consider visiting the Falls of Shin, a beauty spot not too far off our route.  We decided to wait and see how we felt and set off

They had a lovely garden, including bird tables etc and Eleanor brought a picture to show us of their other "pet".  It was a wild buzzard they nickname Eddie, who arrives every day  to be fed in their garden.  Brilliant.

We set off in good time and immediately started climbing out of the town.  I stopped to look back at Dingwall over the Cromarty Forth.  Today we decided to ride at tourist pace and were thoroughly enjoying the ride.

We made good steady progress and it seemed comfortable even though there had been a lot of climbing.  After about 20 miles we pulled over to have a break and a look at the views.  We sat on the grass which was thick and mossy and we both had to resist the temptation to lie down and get an hours kip.

We set off again and half a mile further on there was a proper Vantage Point.  Ian cracked on but I pulled over as took this shot.  There was a dais there showing what could be seen and telling me that this was Struie Hill.  It also said that we were at 660 feet altitude.  I checked and my Garmin 705 (bike GPS) was showing 677 feet which I thought was pretty good.

Next came a great descent into Bonar Bridge.  Again the views were great and pics will appear in our new tab, the Gallery, but this blog post is already overlaoded!  We decided to take the detour John had suggested and headed West.

We followed the tourist signs along some lanes and laughed how we were now doing some hills that we didn't need to do.  We pulled into the Falls of Shin, which is a place of natural beauty owned, we believe by one Mohammed al Fayed.  It is a bit disconcerting to walk into the Visitor Shop and see a large scale waxwork of the man himself fully kitted out in kilt and all the trimmings.

The falls themselves were lovely (see pic) but probably the wrong time of the year to see the salmon jumping there.  

We had a fair old lunch sat outside and then carried on our way.

We were now feeling like real explorers - even brave enough to actually use a map!  What heroes, even if we had to ask directions a couple of times.

We now turned back North East and the wind which had been virtually nil in the morning had, as usual, picked up a lot by the afternoon.  The next 20 miles were a real grind due to the wind and I kept saying to Ian it would improve once we got to the A9.

We reached the A9 junction and , yep it was a whole bunch worse.  The next 3 miles were really hard.  The traffic was also really noticeable after the virtually traffic-free cycling we'd had the rest of the day.  The wind stayed in our face and strong for the rest of the day - which became 75 miles rather than the 65 we had planned.  The scenery was okay, with the Ocean to our right, but we were just focussed on getting to our destination.

Finally we arrived - and even though I was shattered, I stopped to take this picture.

After a hot shower and a rest, we went and had a great fish meal in La Mirage and are now back in our room.

And so, to my title for today.  Being on your own for long periods of time (we tend to cycle at our own pace and meet up at junctions etc) gives you a lot of time to think and to reflect on what is important to you.

Today I thought a lot about my home and the person who is waiting there for me.  I want to thank her for being supportive of this tour and encouraging me all the way.  I'd like to thank her for many things, but especially for just being her. 

I spent a lot of time today singing "This One Goes out to the One I love" and I can't wait to be home again with Wendy.  Love you loads xx

4/5/2011 07:04:13 am

Uncle Mart, Nan always said you were the sensitive one.... ahhhhhhhhh it's lovely.

Nearly there, you've almost done it, well done.
I'm sure you'll always remember this remarkable trip fondly.

Great stats btw.

Love Em xx

4/5/2011 07:20:33 am


4/5/2011 07:39:31 am

aaaw!! Thank you darling, I'm so proud of all you've accomplished this trip, You're comradery with Ian, The money you've both raised and The pure enjoyment & laughter I can see you've both had every moment along this massive tour... Thank you for sharing it with us all along the way.

Can't wait to have you back in my arms again

Love you more x x x x

pauline wendys mom
4/5/2011 07:39:57 am

marty thats so sweet , i have spoken to her every day and she is missing you so much hurry safe x

4/5/2011 08:28:17 am

4/5/2011 08:32:42 am

So proud of you Martin! You kept him alive the whole route - what an achievement in itself! Can't believe what you have accomplished together and so many amazing memories to treasure always. Thanks for being there for him and being the big brother he deserves!

Dylan wanted to bless Uncle Martin and daddy every night - he looked after you both while you were gone. Come home safely XXX

4/5/2011 09:08:25 am

Thanks Martin for looking after "young un". Good luck for tomorrow and hope you enjoy the luxury of a ride in a car for a change.
I've just been scrolling back through your blog and am amazed at the amount you have written. What memories there for your future.

4/5/2011 03:50:21 pm

Fantastic achievement - you make it sound all too easy (which I know it isn't)

The last leg will be a breeze.

From your Istanbul reporter!

4/5/2011 04:08:37 pm

Well done, Martin.

Steve (Bogie)
4/5/2011 04:58:30 pm

Good luck on the final push.

Lesley at no 30
5/5/2011 01:53:34 am

Go for it!! Have brilliant last day!


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