Day nineteen – completion!

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The pressure was off, since I only had a bit over thirty miles to cycle before catching a ferry at 6.30pm. Also I had had a few to drink at the Newmarket Bar in Thurso the night before, so was a bit sluggish getting going, and it was gone half past ten when I left the campsite.

There were nice views of Dunnet Head from Thurso, and all around Dunnet Bay, where the wind was whipping the sea into big breakers. The weather was sunny with a strong wind and occasional squalls. At a quarter past midday, after 14 miles cycling, I reached Dunnet Head lighthouse, the most Northerly point. I found someone to take my picture, ignored the danger notices to get some good pictures of the cliffs, and admired the view of the Orkneys. Then got back on the bike to push on to John O’Groats.

I reached John O’Groats, a rather flat and uninteresting place, at a quarter to two. Here I took it in turns, with a couple who were just starting out in the other direction, to take each other’s picture. Then I signed in and got my stamp for completing the End to End, before having lunch at the Journey’s End Cafe.

But it wasn’t quite journey’s end for me, as I still had the two mile ride to Duncansby Head, the real Northeasterly point and the furthest place on the mainland from Land’s End. This I reached at three o’clock after 31 miles cycling today, and 1,310 miles since leaving Penzance station on 29th April.

I was quite emotional as I got there, and had to fight back tears of emotion to enable me to check in on Facebook, and send emails letting people know I had finished. There were very few people around, so the photograph was taken with the self-timer on the camera.

I then returned to John O’Groats, trying to take in what I had just accomplished. There I had several more hot beverages, one with a group who had just arrived from Land’s End. There were several of them around, including one who was limping with his knee strapped up. He was on the phone home and sounded about as emotional as I was. I seemed to be the only one who was solo and did not have a car there waiting for my arrival. I wrote a few postcards, bought the obligatory t-shirt and generally filled in time until it was time to cycle back to Gills bay for the ferry to Orkney, and my promised holiday!

The ferry took me to St Margaret’s Hope on South Ronaldsay, from where it was about an hours ride up the East side of Scapa Flow to Kirkwall and the Orkney Hotel where I had a room booked.

So at about a quarter past nine in the evening I was able to tuck into a celebratory feast including fillet steak and cheeseboard, washed down with a nice bottle of claret. Afterwards I continued celebrating in the public bar with the local produce: a pint of Dark Island and a dram of Highland Park Eighteen.

It has been a fantastic experience. It has made me appreciate even more, this green and pleasant land in which we live. I’m very thankful that I have been granted the ability and opportunity to achieve this very special journey.

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6 Responses to Day nineteen – completion!

  1. Just Gai says:

    Congratulations on your remarkable achievement, Peter. I’m not surprised you felt a bit teary. And thanks for letting us share in your experience (minus the cold, the wet and the pain – though I would willingly have tucked in to your mouthwatering meals!). Enjoy your time in Orkney and have a safe journey home.

  2. Phil Tremain says:

    Well done Peter, its been fun following your journey for the last three weeks. Probably bump into you in a church tower someday.

  3. Matt Hilling says:

    Fantastic achievement Peter, very well done. I hope you have raised lots of money. I have really enjoyed reading your blogs and looking at the photos – almost felt a part of what you were doing!

  4. Marian & John Chambers says:

    Well done Peter – great achievement! We have very much enjoyed reading all about your travels, the people you have met and the food/drink stops. Thanks for letting us share all that. Pity you could not have stopped off here on your way home but presume that you have caught a train back and are probably now at work again. Do return, start in the north and cycle down the east side of the country!

  5. Martin Frederick Valuks says:

    Peter, it has been a revelation reading about your exploits and I can understand how you were emotional at the finish – I was also for you! I agree with Marian, why stop there, carry on down the coast another time from John O Groats and link up at Lowestoft, then cycle the south coast from Dover to Lands End for a full circuit – you have proved (if proof were needed) that you can do it; and there are many great beers waiting to be discovered.

  6. Dawn Valuks says:

    Well done Peter, I just wonder what you are going to do next!

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