Kildonan Burn - The seventh step - London to Edinburgh via Land's End and John o'Groats - CycleBlaze

July 20, 2019

Kildonan Burn

The rain came down in torrents in the early of this morning and I wasn't keen to stick my head out of the tent to make the morning teas and coffee.  In the end, it wasn't bad at all.  Despite the main camping area being a bit flooded, our pitch was OK because it was on a sandy dune.

We felt we only had a short way to go today so were in no rush to get started.  It was after half past ten by the time we got on our bicycles.  This time round, the A9 was pretty busy and it wasn't long before I started directing some choice language at the motorists who passed too close to us.  We climbed, with some small dips, until just before the village of Helmsdale.  Helmsdale is a relatively new village, established by the Earl of Sutherland in 1813 as a harbour to attempt to cash in on the herring fishing business.  It seems to have lost its way a bit since then.

The Masonic Hall in Helmsdale. Lodge St Donan, number 933 in the Scottish Constitution.
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A view of Helmsdale from the west.
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In Helmsdale we made the mistake of buying meat pies for lunch from a fish and chip shop.  Deep fried pies ?  Then it was up the gentle climb and into the howling wind through the valley that would lead to the north coast of Scotland.

Quiet roads through the valley although up the hill and into the wind.
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We made a short stop for tea and coffee at Kildonan Burn, site of Scotland's short and unsuccesful gold rush in 1869.  Once again the Earl of Sutherland tried to make a buck out of it, charging prospectors a pound each for a license and demanding 10% of the takings.  It folded within nine months.

Kildonan Burn.
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We carried on up the hill but within a few hundred meters were driven back to the little shelter at Kildonan Burn by some driving rain.  While waiting for the rain to pass, and not sure if it would, we decided to camp there for the night.  In the end the weather cleared about two hours later but by this stage we were settled and weren't going to carry on.

The shelter at Kildonan Burn where we had tea and dinner.
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Our campsite at Kildonan Burn. There were two other sets of campers nearby (but not too close).
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So a much shorter day than we expected and tomorrow we hope to end up at the A836 on the north coast which will lead us to John o'Groats the day after.

Today's ride: 33 km (20 miles)
Total: 2,373 km (1,474 miles)

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