Monday, 23 August 2010

Day 1 (and a bit) John o'Groats to Mid Clyth

Thursday 19th and Friday 20th August 2010

After a hassle free journey from the south of England by plane and bus I arrived at John o'Groats in the early afternoon on Thursday. For an hour or two I hung around savouring the happy atmosphere, bought some postcards and enjoyed a pint at The Journeys End bar. I watched two groups of elated cyclists finishing their LEJOGs and there were visitors of many nationalities milling around.

It had always been my intention to start my walk on Friday 20th of August, but a conversation with the official sign photographer, who was having a busy day, changed my mind. His opening time of 10-00am was at least an hour later than I wanted to start walking the next morning, and when he's not there the sign is removed. So at my request we altered the date on the sign and I had my picture taken a day early.

Then decided I might as well start walking early too! There is a start/finish line for end-to-enders outside the sadly derelict John o'Groats Hotel. I left from the line and enjoyed a very pleasant walk along beaches and cliffs to Duncansby Head and Stacks. Duncansby Head, a couple of miles east of John o'Groats, is the true North East extreme point of Great Britain and The Stacks are a natural wonder well worth visiting. I walked back to my guest house by road and noted that my Garmin GPS device showed 5.90 miles.

On Friday morning after breakfast I continued from where I had stopped the evening before, the front door of my guesthouse which was about half a mile south of the start/finish line. My walk was now well and truly underway. The road to Keiss was fairly desolate, mainly moorland and fields of sheep. After passing through Keiss I walked down a short lane to the beach at Sinclair's Bay. From there I had a very enjoyable 5 mile stroll on the deserted sands until the beach ran out next to a large home that resembles a castle. After getting momentarily lost in the grounds I re-emerged on the A99 just outside of Wick. The 16 miles to Wick had flown by, so I hung around long enough to eat both lunch and dinner. After spending 4 hours in Wick I pressed on, eventually stopping at Mid Clyth where I wild camped in undergrowth behind a disused cottage. I slept well, very content with my first days progress.

Weather; Overcast and windy, a few light showers at lunchtime. Max 16C

Mileage today 31.90 (includes 5.90 on Thursday 19th), walking time 8hrs 7mins,
average walking speed 3.9mph

GPS tracks; click here  and  here

Duncansby Stacks
The start/finish line for end-to-enders at John o'Groats

The deserted sands of Sinclairs Bay

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Exmouth, Devon, United Kingdom
Hi :) I'm a 49yo father of three from Exmouth, a lovely seaside town in Devon. In parts of Exeter I'm well known as the local milkman where I've been making traditional doorstep deliveries for 15 years.