DAY 90 KEISS TO JOHN O’GROATS 13 MILES 

What an exciting and emotional day. John O’Groats at last after 90 days of which 86 were walking and 4 resting, 5 days ahead of schedule. I got up at 7.45 and had yoghurt and porridge and a fried egg on toast for breakfast for a change. Car loaded up and away we were to the airport at Wick where Tracey picked up a hire car at £320 for 5 days. We all drove to the Seaview hotel at John O’Groats and left the hire car there. Dave drove back to Keiss and off we set all elated. It was very cold and windy so I wore my balaclava for the first time. I have now used everything that I packed. First stop was Keiss Castle situated on sheer cliffs overlooking the bay but now in ruins. It was built in the late 16 century. Today’s walk was along the cliff path and brilliant. It was like walking through history with old harbours, houses and burials. Caithness is very rich in archeological remains and famous for the number of Brochs. So many grassy mounds could have been the site of Iron Age homes. The natural landscape and many inlets, extremely sheer drops and numerous stacks made for an unmissable day with something new round every corner. I will find it hard to choose the photos to include. Nybster harbour was very pretty and there was an ice house there used for keeping fish cool in the 1800’s. The turf and soil helped keep the ice collected in winter from thawing. There was another beautiful gate designed by Ian Sinclair. Nybster’s Broch is world famous and if you stand on Mervyn’s tower you get a fantastic view. It is a complex site with many stone buildings connected by passageways and dates from around 700 to 500 BC. My dad was called Mervyn and so I thought of him and how proud he would have been. We continued to walk around the coast, at times climbing barbed wire fences that were challenging to say the least. The path was very narrow with sheer drops in places and quite inaccessible. Tracey managed even though she was very anxious. I loved it when it was precarious as it’s such an achievement. Once I had to slide down a slope on my bottom. Dave and I had a snack of a banana and snickers bar about 11.30 watching the gulls float in the air currents. There were so many birds today, oyster catchers, curlews, snipe, gulls of all kinds. At Skirza head I had to abort the coast path as it was totally impassable. I clambered over a stone wall and another barbed wire fence and saw Jo who had been waiting for us as Jason had disappeared. We discovered later he had gone back to the A99. We carried on together and decided to eat lunch on the beach at Freswick bay sitting on stone blocks. A small stream was easily navigated today. I put on my waterproof trousers for warmth and managed to eat a chicken salad in the wind without making a mess. A jam doughnut for pudding as two seals came to watch us. It then started to rain which became heavier and heavier as the day progressed. The way became impassable so I suggested using an inland path for half a mile to clear the headland before getting back on the coastal path. It worked and we stayed together for the afternoon mainly bog trotting and heather crunching. My boots were totally sodden but my feet were dry. It was wild and bleak but easier walking. There was a super round broch that I nearly missed. These would have dominated the landscape and are only found in Scotland. Dave found a nest with eggs in hidden in the grass as the mother flew up into his face as he walked by. Small brown eggs. I wonder which bird? There were a lot of empty shells as well scattered along the path. The steep cliffs, ravines and geological formations were breath taking and so varied. The first pigs I had seen were on the edge of a cliff. They were very large and dark brown or cream coloured. The Stacks of Duncansby were fantastic triangular pillars. An iconic sight. The path to Duncansby lighthouse which is the most north easterly part of the U.K was grassy and easy. I got there about 3.00 and had an emotional hug with Jo and soon Tracey and Dave. What an amazing, unforgettable journey to get to this point. It was teaming down and we were drenched but it just didn’t matter. The lighthouse is one of 200 around Scotland’s rugged coastline. We almost skipped down the road and then the footpath to the official signpost at John O’Groats where we greeted Jason with more hugs. He had been waiting three hours in the cafe. It was 4.00. Loads of photos and at the End to Enders sign before got chocolate and carrot cake in the cafe. I have walked 1,200 miles to get here. A 5 min limp to the hotel to dry everything out while Dave went to pick up the car. Shower and blog until dinner. All of these for the last time feels strange. The hotel is really good and the food outstanding. I had smoked haddock soup and venison casserole with red wine. A fitting end full of laughter and shared memories. I am truly blessed. The end of my blog and daily ritual. 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “DAY 90 KEISS TO JOHN O’GROATS 13 MILES 

  1. Congratulations to you all! You did it! What an experience you have had. Your legs must find it hard to stop. Lovely that your last day was so interesting with such a lot to see.
    Hope your journey home goes well.
    Love and well done, Maryanne and Geoff xx

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.