THURSDAY 20TH MAY
Tongue to Melvich 28 miles
This was to be our shortest but hilliest day.
I enjoyed a small stroll in the sunshine down the lanes before breakfast.
It did not help that the B and B was right down the bottom of the village so we had a long climb just to get back on route. After paying by cash and being told there were cash machines along the way which they were not, we climbed aboard the bikes and road steadily up into then out of out of Tongue.
A good hilly start gets the legs pumping and the breakfast kicks in, I would have preferred an extra sausage or bacon on the plate instead of Parsley.
We climbed to the edge of the village and stopped at the Weavers Gift shop, another English lady who filled us in on all the local gossip, Melvich and it’s strange happenings and gossip on other B and B s there is a community of English along the North Coast which seem to know every body and everybody’s business.
Bought the usual memento badges then cycled on. Climbing and climbing it was gradual slogs up and down the hills towards Bettyhill but we had bags of time.
We kept dropping into small bays and then another climb to come out the other side. the road to Bettyhill was downhill but the slog up to the village was a killer, we eventually came across Elizabeth’s café and stopped for a cuppa and a teacake.
As we sat in the café we got chatting to Elizabeth she was from Shildon!!! A town literally 4 miles from where we grew up in County Durham, Colin knew her best friend’s husband really well and we had a good old chin wag about everything with both Elizabeth and her Husband.
She even wrote a letter to her friend there and then and asked Colin to deliver on his return to Bishop Auckland, we didnt point out that it would be quicker to post it. Its an amazingly small world. They were selling Cumberland sausage from Penrith too.
After a pleasant hour we had to climb aboard the bikes and just round the corner bang, we were into another climb of a long steep hill. Colin attacks Graeme grinds on and I put it in Granny gear sit back and climb very steadily. But no one pushed this year so all our methods work. On one of the banks Colin decided to drop back and give some encouragement by talking to me as we climbed, then he would cycle on ahead a bit then circle and come back to talk some more encouragement, I soon sent him back up the front out of the damn way, I prefer to suffer in silence.
|At the top of another hill and the end of another county|
The weather had become cold and overcast we dropped into a small village called Strathy, we noticed a burial talking place over on the hillside, little did we realise how much this was going to affect us.
First, as we climbed out of Strathy the funeral decided to leave and we had to wait in a passing place on the narrow road half way through our climb as all the mourners left.
We then dropped into Melvich our journey’s end that day and found the Tigh Na Clash Guest House opposite the Halladale Inn. Nice one.
How wrong could we be?
Mrs Ritchie had seen us on the road, as she too had been at the funeral. The rooms were very comfortable and only £20 a night.
We went across to the Halladale Inn and the Funeral Wake was still in full flow a lot of drunken locals seems they hit the shorts very early into the session.
Needless to say they were not doing food.
So it was a route march to the other end of the Village to the Melvich Hotel wher there was a wait for food in the restaurant, so next we go to the Corrugated Iron Melvich bar just around the corner. We were the sole customers, they did Chicken and Chips, Scampi and chips and Fish and Chips all a £5 each. We ordered one of each. The cook made the barman write it down so there would be no mistake with the order! However it came and a feast was served to our table, not a fancy meal but good food and plentiful.
We chatted to the barman who’d worked all over the world, was originally from Silloth Cumbria and had ended up there. He was a funny guy and had the locals sussed already Told us of the local football team winning the Mackay cup and The Macleod Brothers and how they stood in the bar not talking to each other,right on cue Dodo Macleod came in the bar never spoke drank two pints and went.
We had a good night but had to walk the mile back in torrential rain soaked through, but Mrs Ritchie had seen us and was waiting to show us where to dry off our clothes in a large airing cupboard, saved again.
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