LEJOG Day 65 – Helmsdale to Dunbeath 16.87 miles. Cumulative 1272.69 miles.

A very comfortable night at Kindale House B & B, Steve felt very at home as the proprietors spoke his language, being from the Midlands. They had also lived in the Scilly Isles before moving to Scotland, anything to get away from Birmingham. A delicious breakfast of kippers for Lynn and a full Scottish for Steve, set us up for a few hours.

Another glorious day, sunshine from the outset, with just a few clouds later.

Our mornings walk was along the highest part of the JOG trail and was described as rough coastal walking in the guide. The 15 kilometre walk to Berridale was estimated to take 6-7 hours. We were pleasantly surprised by the route, it was very similar to walking the South West Coast Path, well signposted, steep ups and downs, although a little more overgrown in places and it only took us four and half hours (walking time).

We saw more evidence of the Highland clearances as we passed the ruins of former croft communities including the village of Badbea. These coastal crofts originated in 1792 when there tenants were evicted from inland mixed farms to make way for sheep grazing. Life was hard, and most crofters decided to emigrate. One plaque commemorates a family who moved on to New Zealand.

Old ruins
More old ruins
Even more old ruins
Old ruin trying to keep up with Lynn

Just before Berridale we had a quick chat with a day walker, he mentioned that despite the JOG trail he had seen backpackers walking down the A9, whilst driving to the start of his walk and thought they were possibly put off by the amount of ascent and descent on the trail. Later in the day we also spotted a backpacker on the A9, from the coast path. This may explain the lack of people we met on the trail, we only saw three day walkers on the coast path today.

After a good lunch at The River Bothy Tea Rooms in Berridale, we set out for the walk to Dunbeath, also described as rough coastal walking. The going was a lot tougher afternoon, the ferns and grass must have put on a growth spurt on while we were having lunch. In addition to the thick undergrowth there were some tricky sections of path squeezed between the stone wall and the cliff edge, not great if you haven’t got a head for heights like Lynn, still it took her mind off looking for adders for a while.

We passed a wooden box on a post labelled ‘walkers please open’. We gingerly opened it up expecting it to explode but it just contained an invitation from the trail charity to sign a book detailing our walk and leave comments and contact details. We entered details and had a quick look at previous entries. A southbound end to ender had signed it three days previously.

We did have an easy section of woodland path to finish the day, before arriving Dunbeath and Inver Caravan Park.

The owners had sent very specific arrival instructions about pitching the tent before reporting your pitch number to reception. Very unlike Steve, but he had actually read them which delighted the proprietor, who said he was ‘one of the elite’, when he asked why, they replied ‘because he’d actually read the instructions’, most people don’t.

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