Lands End to John O’Groats 1997 Part 8

Thus, “The Real Deal” and The Wattmeister bade him farewell and headed for Scotland. A big mileage day was required after the previous day’s premature curtailment. Crossing the border at Gretna Green and heading north to Dumfries saw an improvement in the weather. The wind died down and the sun appeared momentarily from behind the clouds. Ray and I opted to look for accommodation at Thornhill after about 95 miles on the road rather than continue to the ‘official’ stop at Wanlockhead YHA, up in the hills.

We were fortunate and found a resting place just as darkness laid down its mantle.

The following morning saw us crossing the Duveen Pass headed for Glasgow and the majestic YHA on the banks of Loch Lomond. The most notable part of this ride was the disgraceful state of the designated  ‘cycle way’ which traverses Glasgow. It was strewn with glass and other debris, and consequently Ray’s rear wheel suffered our first puncture of the trip.

Built on the site of Robert the Bruce’s hunting lodge on the southwest shore of Loch Lomond, the hostel featured a sweeping central staircase and huge stained glass windows. It was said to be haunted, though Ray and I were not disturbed after our 80 miles ride. Alas, the hostel was closed at the end of the 2012 season due to falling numbers and the astronomical cost of  maintenance, £6 million just to repair failing plasterwork. We were fortunate to have enjoyed a night there.

Day 10 took us along the rather busy A82 adjacent to Loch Lomond. At Crianlarich we stopped for a break and discovered that Mike Tyson had bitten off some of Evander Holyfield’s ear in a world heavyweight title fight, Shocking! If he was really that hungry he should have had an energy bar between rounds.

Beyond Crianlarich, the A82 threads its way towards Black Mount and Loch Tulla. Along this stretch we encountered another adventurer who was walking backwards from John O’Groats carrying a cross. At least he ahd the wind in his favour. As we climbed the hairpin at the northern edge of Loch Tulla we felt the full force of the wind on Rannoch Moor.

“I feel like a bloody parachute!”, shouted Ray as he sucked my wheel.

“You’ll never digest it Ray!”, came the reply, lost in the wind.

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