Day 2

Wednesday 25th March

  • 1 hr plus 5 minutes’ cooldown level 8
  • Max heart rate = 152bpm
  • Calories = 470
  • Distance covered = 16.49 miles 
  • Total distance so far = 23.45 miles

Today was my first day of extra cycling.  I have to confess I took this pretty steady at first and it took until minute 42 for my heart rate to reach 142bpm.  I was a bit daunted by the prospect of an hour’s ride – 20 minutes seemed pretty tough yesterday!  

Leaving Nybster behind, I check the map and find that I’m still very much in the ‘far north’ – it looks an awful long way down from here.

I stop to catch my breath in Wick, a former Viking settlement and the principal town in the far north of the mainland. The town holds the claim to fame of once being the busiest herring port in Europe in the mid 19th century. The remains of the Castle of Old Wick, often referred to as the Old Man of Wick, sits on the edge of the cliffs about half a mile south of Wick Bay and overlooks the sea.  There is a beautiful expanse of beach and I’m told it’s popular for wind surfing and sand yachting – brrr, looks a bit cold for that today.

My destination for today’s ride is the quaintly named Whaligoe.  The name may have come from ‘Holy goe’, suggesting an origin in early Christian times (goe means a rocky inlet). However, it could refer to the link to whaling; several whale jawbones have been erected in the area -so who knows?

Whaligoe is famous for the astonishing Whaligoe Steps – The 330 steps zigzag down the cliffs to a narrow terrace just above the crashing waves. They date originally from the mid-18th century and were once used by fisherwomen to haul up the creels of herring landed at the harbour beneath. Crews of women, some in their early seventies, would gut the fish — herring, cod, haddock, or ling — and would carry them up the steps in baskets to be taken on foot to be sold in Wick, some seven to eight miles away…… maybe cycling isn’t so hard after all!

A hairpin bend on the way down…

It was a long old slog but I relieved the boredom with a good catch up on Masterchef.  I feasted my eyes on the beautiful array of food with everything you could think of laid out on the table top.  No one had to gut the fish by the shore, pack it into creels, haul it up 330 treacherous steps and then walk 7 miles into town.  How times have changed!

If anyone has already enjoyed exploring these remote spots in our beautiful island, do please share your stories with us.  And if you are into your music, I’d really welcome some tips on the best motivational songs to keep those feet pedalling!