We did absolutely no miles on day 3 (on the bike at least)!

We woke to appalling conditions of howling wind and driving rain – and rather pleased we’d left the tandem on the roof of the car.  After breakfast, we set off forDurness, where we paused to add money to Carol’s phone and try phoning her parents (they’d tried to call the previous evening while we were driving back from Ullapool to Scourie).  Then we went a short distance down the road to Smoo Cave.

Smoo Cave is a giant cave formed by both the action of the sea and by water flow from a large catchment area.  When we visited, we couldn’t really get far in because of the volume of water cascading through the cave.  In fact the cave was filled with spray going in all directions!  This itself was quite spectacular, but really we need to visit under rather less wet conditions.  Somewhat dampened by the experience, we returned to the car and motored on towards Thurso.

This took us south along Loch Eriboll, then back north along it’s other side.  The weather at this point was really awful, and Carol was having trouble steering the car due to the tandem on the roof like some kind of Dimetrodon sail.

As we proceeded along the north coast, the weather gradually brightened, and by the time we reached Thurso, it was actually quite nice.  We located the bike shop, which is called The Bike Shop, and wandered in to discuss the situation with the two guys there.  Leaving them to conduct a thought experiment about the likely problem, we returned to the car to fetch the bike.  As it turned out, my diagnosis of a broken freehub body was correct* though it was the fixing bolt that was the problem.

This would have been trivial to fix, except that current Shimano freehubs has a different spline arrangement, and so the parts in the shop wouldn’t fit.  In the end one of the shop guys sacrificed his own wheel to provide a freehub body and get us back on the road.  This must count as the best service I’ve ever had from a bike shop.  Unfortunately I can’t find a web site to link to for The Bike Shop, but they do have a Facebook Page.

Over a brief lunch, we deliberated on what to do with our cycle tour.  One problem was that the car was now in the wrong place!  Another was the likely bad weather over on Orkney.  In the end we decided to head south, perhaps to Pitlochry to stay for a few days of doing day rides.  With this plan in mind, we drove south to stay at Helmsdale for the night.

*The mail order emporium I bought the wheel from  says this of the hub: “These are reliable and durable, the axles do not bend, the flanges do not break off, and the freehub bodies do not fail.”  Hmmm…