St. John’s Town of Dalry to Thornhill

This morning dawned bright and frosty. The view from our bedroom window showed that all the frost had gone from the southeast-facing hills to our right whereas the grass in the valley bottom, where the sun’s rays struck it at a much more acute angle, was still white.

Filled with porridge (this was The Porridge House, after all) and cooked breakfast, we headed north, for the first few miles following the same route that we did five years ago when our destination was John o’ Groats. We climbed gently and after about three miles headed north-east along a minor road (having said that, the major thoroughfare which is the B7000 only seemed to have about one vehicle every ten minutes on it). The sun was so warm that we both shed layers and it was only after I got back on my bike that I noticed that the shadows were still frosty. I can’t remember a day in which the shade and sun temperatures were so markedly different.

We climbed gently and I marvelled at how Jan’s technique had come on in leaps and bounds in three days. On Monday, she was struggling to keep the bike upright at less than 4 mph and that resulted in her running out of steam long before reaching the tops of hills. Now she was twiddling gently in low gears, keeping a straight course, and expending far less energy as a result. She was amazed when I pointed out that we had cycled at east 200′ higher today than we did yesterday. The differences were that all the gradients were gentle and all the surfaces were metalled. Our average speed was only about 5 mph at this stage, but who cares? We were able to bask in the sunshine, scenery, silence and solitude, all of them balm for the soul.

We eventually began the descent to Moniave and the next 5 miles took us about 20 minutes. It was lunch time and we locked the bikes and adjourned to the rather scruffy pub. We had soup, sandwiches and tea and, even though we were the only customers, were obliged to suffer the enormous plasma screen churning out Murdoch and golf.

After lunch we stayed n the A road, rather than the more direct route which involved chevrons and around 3.30 we arrived at the Gillbank guest house. We took our bikes round the back and stored them in the cellar and then spent the rest of the afternoon in our room where we have an enormous four-poster bed. I think there might be photographs later.

Now, ablutions and laundry.

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