Scotland Motorcycle Tour - Day 9 - Durness to Dornoch
From: Durness Via: Dunnet Head, John O'Groats, Wick. To: Dornoch Distance: 184 miles Today started with mainly single track roads for the first 30 or so miles, past rugged coastline and remote sandy beaches, some of the most picturesque landscape we have seen on the trip. It's not fast going though. The road hugs the coastline and skirts the lochs. Thirty bendy miles is probably only ten as the crow flies. The weather forecast said "rain", but over the course of the day we only had a couple of drops on the visor. We mostly rode in sunshine and even had to stop to take layers off. From about Bettyhill onwards, the landscape becomes softer, more open, rolling hills and agricultural rather than pastoral. This is a sign that we are leaving the wild West coasts of Scotland behind and that we might not have to keep dodging the free roaming lambs on the road from now on. A biker we bumped into yesterday told us of the northernmost point on the mainland, which it turns out is not John O'Groats but Dunnet Head, so we headed there for photos and a good view out to the Orkney Isles - who knew they were so close?
Our next stop was the Castle of Mey which was the home of the Queen Mother and it turns out is a lovely homely castle. We actually did the tour which was an enjoyable break from being on the bike. The castle was bought and done up in the 1950's and is fully kitted out for a 1950's lady of the manor.
Next stop was the obligatory John O'Groats photo - £9.95 if you are wondering - hard copy only - will be with you in 10 days. This is my fourth trip to John O Groats and the first one where I haven't been too tired or rushed to take a photo!
From John O'Groats the road to Wick is fast and easy. We wanted to stop in Wick for a coffee and some lunch and to do a tour of Old Pulteney, the northernmost distillery in Scotland. Just our luck :-) the cafe was shut (Sunday) as was the distillery - never on a Sunday in this part of the world. We have now failed to visit the southernmost and northernmost distilleries, the Oban distillery as well as both in Campbeltown! Gareth's never going to get a drink at this rate.
The last hour and a half to our evening stop was spent on super fast A roads as we sped to the Eagle Hotel in Dornoch. After a shower and dinner we enjoyed a walk along the beach. This was lovely except that the beach was covered in the remains of dead sea birds. I've never seen so many in one place.