Following a night at an unremarkable (crappy) hotel I tackled the road North with some enthusiasm. I stopped to see pilgrims descending in the early morning mist from a shrine high on the rocks.
The road is being heavily upgraded and renewed so there were lots of roadworks to negotiate. North Sri Lanka remains a military zone and there are countless army bases and checkpoints. Every significant geographical feature threw up a heavily guarded army post or base. The land became increasingly bleak and the scars of war were everywhere. Buildings are deserted and pockmarked by shellfire.
What initially looked like good ground for camping became a no go area with areas marked out as minefields. Close to the road people in protective armour were working to clear the mines. I stopped to have tea at a transport cafe at Elephant Pass and which joins the Jaffna peninsula with the mainland. Historically it was the place where elephants would travel down from the Indian mainland into Sri Lanka. Now, however, it is known as the scene for two major battles between the LTTE and government. I cycled to the North coast and set up camp at a deserted Sri Lankan army post on the sun drenched beach which stretched like a ribbon of golden sand in each direction.