Distance 16.21 miles- cumulative distance 58.64 – time 5 hrs 45 mins – walking time 5hrs 15mins – Average speed 3.1 mph Accom B&B Belgrave Arms.
The day started well, with a domestic, as usual Steve was in the wrong and Lynn was very forgiving having incorrectly blamed Lynn for picking up and using some of his kit. After a lengthy search including campsite bins the items ‘appeared’ in Steve’s rucksack.
Another day on the A9 and the first day with some long climbs but we were excited by our first roundabout. We eagerly anticipate traffic lights. Light showers again today but milder as we left Caithness and entered Sutherland. The only deer we saw today was roadkill so no cute deer photos today but Lynn found a friend who, unlike Steve, gave her flowers.
Distance 6.75 miles cumulative distance 42.43miles 3hrs 15 mins (walking time 2hrs 15mins) Pace 3mph -Dunbeath Caravan Park
Stayed the night at the Portland Arms which after being closed for three years re-opened under new owners on 26th March after 12 weeks being refurbished. Well done to the new owners we had a lovely room, a proper Scottish breakfast including haggis and a warm welcome- we wish them all the best.
Another day plodding along the A99 which became the A9 today. A short day but we have learnt to ease our bodies and feet into the first week – and so far so good. Met a fellow walker from Cologne doing a circumnavigation of the North Sea, only 6,500kilometers. He is splitting it into four trips – don’t know why he can’t do it in one go. He pulls a trolley with his kit. Another highlight was a herd of deer can you spot the odd one out?
14.54 miles – 5hrs 15 mins (4hrs 42mins walking) Pace 3.1mph B&B Portland Arms
Our first day of walking with full rucksacks and the whole way on the A99. We became Scottish Nationalists for the day as a rally convoy of Scottish nationalist supporters created a constant stream of vehicles all carrying Scottish flags and banners and sounding their horns, which gave us plenty of people to wave at. Lynn’s arm started to ache – she said she felt like the Queen (but not the Scottish nationalist bit – obviously). Lybster has a lovely small harbour and we watched a catch of crab being unloaded. A fine sunny day but the wind is still very cold.
21.14 miles – 8 hours (actual walking 6hrs 35 mins) Pace 3.2 mph. Camped – Wick camping and caravan site.
Our last lie in this morning waiting for the first bus to JOG. Set off from JOG at the same time a group of 18 Firefighters from Oxfordshire. Very cold in the wind, wooly hat and gloves required. After the ‘Stacks of Duncansby’ the route was on main roads due to no footpaths along the coast. After the cold start the sun came out in time for our picnic lunch. The most unusual site of the day was when we passed a North Sea pipeline under construction before being floated out to sea which must have been several miles long laid out inland as far as the eye could see.
Spent the morning exploring Inverness and then the train to Wick. We thought we might be disappointed by today’s scenery after the beauty of the Cairngorms yesterday but the scenery surpassed even that. Lochs, coast, glens, snow topped hills and wildlife especially deer were all in abundance. The 4.5 hour journey for £9.10 each was good value. Tent pitched for the first time now waiting in the UKs most northerly Weatherspoons for a Curry night special. Big day tomorrow – bus to JOG and the walk starts ‘proper’.
Thanks to JR for taking us to the station. He makes a good taxi driver and no need to tip.
All credit to the often maligned rail network which got us to Inverness via changes at Birmingham and Edinburgh on time and without any hitches. The scenery from Edinburgh to Inverness is stunning and a journey we would recommend. The final leg tomorrow to Wick is a further 4.5 hours after 10.5 hours today – the distance we will be walking is just starting to sink in.
Our final day before departing by train for Scotland has been a flurry of activity, tidying the house, sending out e-mails, speaking to neighbours and double checking our kit and packing the rucksacks. The nerves are beginning to kick in. We are both a little apprehensive about the challenge yet keen to get on with it after all the planning and talking about it. We did not really think anybody would be very interested in what we are doing but we have been surprised by how interested our friends have been. We had a lovely ‘final’ weekend at John and Katie’s wedding which also provided an opportunity to catch up with friends before we start.
Welcome to our blog. This blog records our first big adventure following the end of our working careers in 2016. Walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End is something Lynn has always wished to do. Steve always dreamt of other things until about 10 years ago when Lynn told Steve it was his dream too.
Unfortunately for Steve the dream has now come true.
On Friday 13 May – see, unlucky for some – we will start the walk from JOG after months of planning and drawing on our many years of backpacking experience.
We plan to follow a scenic route stitching together existing way marked footpaths and national trails. Walking an average of 16 miles a day, we aim to complete the 1,140 mile route in 71 days finishing on 22 July.
We are self supported carrying all our kit including a tent. We will mostly be using campsites and occasionally B&Bs. This was not Steve’s original desire which was to use B&Bs each night. Steve was mistaken.
Planning included a trip to Scotland in 2015 to recce the start of the route as we knew getting off to a good start in the first week would be important if we were to complete the challenge.
We learnt some useful lessons. We will be packing industrial strength insect repellant, which we are not optimistic will be of any use against the Scottish airforce, but we aim to put up a fight however futile.