The most beautiful part of our LeJog trip – cycling through Scotland and the Highlands – 40 years since my last trip to this part of the country – magical, outstanding beauty, amazing views of Ben Nevis, steam trains chattering through the woodlands, cycling on well maintained roads, close to the heathers and Autumn shrubs lining the hedgerows, the occasional grab of a ripe blackberry, almost in stroking distance of sheep and young cows, a collection of resting lapwings in a field close by, and the sheer pleasure of cycling with my sons, who continued to be caring and protective of their Mum.
One of my favourite moments was observing a fisherman fly fishing in Loch Lomond – this reminded me of my dear Father, who held this passion for many years. So many memories flashed before my eyes, and it was difficult to concentrate on the job in hand, when I started to reminisce favourite haunts and family days out. A real stomach turner ………
Saturday night was spent wild camping overlooking Loch Linne – illegal overnight parking, Hey Ho! In total, 115 were cracked today, and we had cycled beyond our stopping place, in order to get the miles in, gosh did it see a long way back to where we were camping! The midges were on good form, as is the norm in Scotland, so had to close all windows and doors tightly before sleeping. We were all looking forward to a pint of beer to replenish our thirst, found a quiet hotel, took a sip and then realised the beer was “off” – that spoilt the taste! The steak and rice, so nicely prepared by Roger, was the perfect sustenance for our evening meal, together with apple pie and custard!!
One of my favourite photos from the trip was the sunset we observed from the hotel, captures our Adventure completely.
240 miles still to go come Sunday morning, so we were keen to get going (I was the Slow Coach!) from Fort William. With only 2 days left, pressure was upon us, and Anthony was not having any nonsense. 120 miles had to be achieved today, come what may! So we just got on with it, and there were only a few moans from me, generally when a tough climb was looming. My left shoulder blade was “prickly”, an indication of fatigue and tension, the massage stick came into it’s own, as did Ibuprofen and black coffee! I simply loved our ride, long, gently undulating descents, getting up to 35 mph, and stunning scenery with rivers on either side of us, had an amusing conversation with the wife of a fly fisherman, who poked her head through the window of Big Bertha, and asked us what we knew about the success of fly fishing, a favourite pastime of many people today. Random conversation but nice!! The one disheartening occasion was stopping for a cup of tea at our designated campsite for the night at 7.15 pm, and having to cycle a further 15 miles to ensure we hadn’t left too much for our last day, Day 10! That was mentally challenging, especially as we had to manage a steep climb before stopping for the night – yes, I moaned and moaned, desperate for fish and chips!
We overnighted in Dingwall, a comfortable campsite, with welcome showers and, most importantly, hot water!
Monday began at 6.00 am, on Anthony’s insistence, there was business to be done! Bradley decided my front tyre should be swapped, not a good idea, as within the first hour of cycling, I had 2 punctures – ended up riding Anthony’s bike for 30 minutes whilst the boys got their hands dirty, and I made up some of the lost time. Again, we were blown away by the beautiful countryside in glorious sunshine, and knew we were on the home run.
Come early afternoon, the clouds filled the skies and rain started to fall, together with an easterly wind. A change of clothing was required, so we were quick at our regular stops and ate, drank, stretched out, and hopped back on the bikes. The road sign for John O’ Groats eventually loomed, 37 miles – what, still another 37 miles, that can’t be true, it must be 27 miles!’ The boys reassured me, “Mum, the last 20 miles are flat” – on your bike, were they hell, every small incline felt like a mountain climb, and I wasn’t happy, the wind was pushing us into the middle of the road and the rain was beating against our backs, just get on with it Jo, keep saying your Mantra and Stay Positive! The last 7 miles went on for ever, I broke the distance down into 2 x 3 mile chunks, just a Park Run 5k x 3!! We battled the elements and that was tough going – I was having to dig very, very deep yet again, suddenly a sign saying 1/4 mile to JOG appeared, we turned the corner into a well lit road and sped down the road together, side by side, elated and so thankful we had made the end, 8.30 pm!! We couldn’t have timed it better, or any later – Job Done, Mission accomplished, Adventure Before Dementia completed …………!!
Believe it or not, I got my fish and chips for supper, Anthony was up at 5.00 am to catch the 7.00 am flight from Inverness back to London and was at his City office desk by 9.30 am, wearing the incorrect socks – he had to pop out and buy some more!!
What a trip – 1,019 miles completed, 55,000 calories burned, 4 punctures, 100+ miles a day, 3 countries, 2 days of rain!!
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it – I even learned a new skill – a Chris Froome finish position, both hands off handlebars and held wide, that was a bonus, took me 10 days to build up the confidence to do this!”
Jo, Anthony and Graham rode the gruelling 1019 miles from Lands End to John O’Groats in aid of the YoungMinds charity. YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences they campaign, research and influence policy and practice.
Donations can made at the following link: