“Today’s terrain is not easy but it’s a shorter day and this is our last full day of cycling – we’re almost there! We set off, the undulating coast road taking us north-east and providing a great warm-up for what comes next! After a few miles we reach the small town of Helmsdale and head north, leaving the coast behind. As soon as we turn inland our road goes up, and we climb for over 30 miles through the moors. There are a few flat stretches which help to break up the terrain and it’s not too steep; it can be quite exposed, but very beautiful.
The landscape is bleaker here than in the Highlands, with rich peaty moorland and clear rivers. We will encounter very few vehicles on this road. Look out for herds of red deer and birds of prey such as osprey or even the elusive golden eagle, as this area is very untouched. We pass several small lochs and some forested areas, and can simply enjoy the scenery. From the top of the climb it’s a lovely descent to the North Coast, where we head east, enjoying glimpses of beautiful, deserted golden beaches. We cycle roughly parallel to the coast; our roads are flatter now but this short section can feel very tough in strong winds. We pass the power station at Dounreay and approach Thurso.
This small town comes as a slight culture shock after all the miles we have cycled on near-deserted roads in the last two days. Night hotel.”