The forecast said a cloudy morning and wet pm, but the day starts very sunny. I get 15 miles on the flat before reaching Helmsdale and two consecutive steep hills, which I've been dreading for some time after reading about them in my (discarded) guidebook. The first hill is very long, but gentle. Then it's down at a vertiginous gradient (enough to need run-off gravel strips), before having to ride right back a similar hill on the other side - it's like Cornwall all over again. I spot - and hear - some kind of traditional music being played on a mound - very charming.
After that it's still up and down, but far easier - the last 10 miles before Wick for lunch are very easy.
So there's only 17 miles left to do after a late lunch. Sadly now is the time the weather decided to change, with a 20-minute rainstorm leaving me cold and wet. Then a wind springs up, blowing the clouds away, but also directly into my face. The last 10 miles are a real struggle, which is a shame after having such an enjoyable trip.
Make it to John O'Groats convinced I couldn't go another mile and Clare is there waiting for me with a medal and a mini bottle of champagne to celebrate! Take the card that was issued and stamped at Land's End in to the local pub and they stamp it in turn, take a picture by the post (you don't have to pay here) and head the 3 hours back to Fort William before the drive back to Birmingham tomorrow.
And despite what it says, my route was 964 miles, not 874...!