Dingwall, the Black Isle, Cromarty and Dornoch all whizz by in a matter of a couple of hours and its only upon reaching the fishing port of Wick that you begin to realise that you’re almost a third of the way though this odyssey without seeing anything that’s really taken your breath away.
Fear not, the moment of revelation isn’t far away. John o’ Groats is something of an anti-climax and you’ll need to get there before breakfast to snap a picture of the ‘van in front of that famous sign.
Just a few miles offshore, the enchanting archipelago of the Orkneys is clearly visible, but the road west beckons. Dunnet Head – furthest point north on the British mainland – seems an indulgent diversion, so you plough on westwards, eyeing the prominent mountain in the distance to the southwest and wondering where the rest of the Highlands are.
Then, just before the pretty inlet and beaches at Bettyhill, cresting a seemingly innocuous incline, it happens. The road races away into the most extraordinary scenery, leading the eye to an improbable landscape in which a series of ridgelines flow away to an almost infinite horizon like so many waves crashing onto a distant shore.