Another relaxed start to the day, having enjoyed a fine breakfast at the Scourie Guest House. Ever helpful, our hosts did offer us an earlier time, but we decided the NC500 could take a back seat in favour of the king size bed in our well appointed room. When we did finally emerge in to the now midge-free sun and faffed around in the local shop, it was nearly 10 am. Putting our best cycling wheel forward we headed out of Scourie towards Durness, Tongue and Bettyhill on unusually flat roads. For the first couple of kilometres, at least.
Cycling today would be on terrain which looked more like Cujo’s fangs than Jaws’ teeth. Bookended by Scourie to the West and Tongue to the East there was 700 metres less elevation than yesterday. To our rested legs, it was even more music to their figurative ears.
As it happened, the day didn’t pan out in a way that was conducive to getting to Bettyhill. Not only was our pace slower than it had been over the previous days, but our level faffing was off the charts. We were enjoying the scenery and the beaches so much, the last 16 kilometres didn’t so much take a back seat, but told to get out completely. We promised to go back for them in the morning.
Taking a break
The first 7 kilometre fang was conquered with relative ease and with the subsequent fast descent, we soon reached Durness where the question of lunch arose. With all options downhill and in the wrong direction, we settled on pushing on to one of Google’s promised food stops. Until we spotted Durness Beach. Immediately, without question or hesitation, we decided to head down and eat our lunch on the golden sands. The next 80 minutes were spent cooking and relaxing under blue skies and looking out to sea.
All this meant we were just 40% through the ride with five hours on the clock. With beach legs well and truly engaged, we headed leisurely past more and more beautiful beaches until we hit the bottom of the second fang. A much tougher prospect than the first, with gradients hitting 16% in the first couple of kilometres it was nearly 6 pm when we both got to the top. Although we would both have preferred to make it all the way to Bettyhill, the prospect of another 8pm finish wasn’t sitting well.
Tongue confirmed as our final destination, we flew downhill for the next 8 kilometres. Over the Kyle of Tongue causeway, past signs of Octopi wrestling cars in to the sea, we found the Tongue Hostel just metres off the route. With container storage for the bikes, a six birth room to ourselves and a relatively early finish of 6:30 pm, we enjoyed tuna-less microwaveable ready meals from the well stocked shop. The only thing we regretted was not getting an ‘I love Tongue’ badge.
Scourie to Tongue
05:05:49 (moving) / 8:56:08 (elapsed)
17.0 kph / 9.7 kph