The captain had four hits on the throne this morning before we leave 'what's the problem' I enquire. ' I must be nervous about the wedding' I inwardly dismiss this as nonsense knowing full well last nights beef burger was mainly abattior sweepings.
Again we are blessed with blue skies and as we leave Evanton we witness a sharp frost. It's chilly but it's a good climb and we soon get up to temperature. The Autumn is more advanced up here and the silver birch are nearly cleared of foliage. An array of colours surround us as Autumn takes grip. We are flanked by over hanging oaks and dappled sunlight paints shadows on the road as we ride. It's one of those days when the wish is for every mile to be longer than a mile. We are not mile counting - it's to cherish.
We climb to 800 ft and then drop into Bonar Bridge. The captain suggests a stop before as we pass a cafe. I say push on. When we get to the the town everything is closed and we have to cycle on to Lairg another 12 miles onward. That's not a problem but of course I have to suffer all that 'I was right again and you should have listened to me' stuff. The captain is a master of blowing his own trumpet and I have found that it's just best to agree in an attempt to silence him.
Arrival at Lairg again draws a blank and we end up getting hot choc out of a machine in the spar shop where we meet the lovely Alison who insists on a kiss from the soon newly married to be.
Then onto beyond the beyond - a single track road that rises to 900 ft is surrounded by forest, a spiders web of peaty ditches which feed large babbling streams. Heather is abundant and it pleasantly masks the devistation of deforestation.
The captain in usual style tries to catch me out on the stand in his piss trick but it's not working. I mount from the other side of the bike again unscathed. The attached picture is demonstrative of what I have to put up with.
It's a great downhill to Antnahara (still holding the record for coldest place in Britain) We blow through the village and stop for a romantic lunch by the loch on the run in to Bettyhill. There is no rush and we have a cat knap in warm Autumn sunshine with the waters of the loch below averting that sound of silence.
On to Bettyhill and the road is peppered with sheep and for a period I am more a shepherd than a cyclist.
Tonight we are staying with Lesley. The property has fantastic views. This lovely lady calls the shop to stay open and returns with beer. We eat here tonight. This was the only booking we made in advance and so pleased as nothing is open and we haven't seen accomodation for the last 50 miles.
As I pointed out on the last end to end - the imperial measurment for distance In the Highlands is minutes. 'How far to Lairg? ' I ask. '14 minutes' (that's 14 not 15 or 13) ' How far to Antnahara ?'- that's 50 minutes. It's apparantly based on travelling time in a car. When I suggest that this would vary dependant on both the car and the driver of the car all I achieved was confusion.
We are now 49 miles from end of and its again mixed feelings of sadness and joy. 79 miles today and 4300 ft climbing.