Monday, 13 October 2014

Walk 196

Thrumster to Dunbeath 17.5miles

A hard frost overnight greeted me in the morning as I made my way out of Thrumster. I walked along a quiet road towards Mains of Ulbster passing by Loch Sarclet on the way.
The view towards Thrumster

The blue skies overhead were very welcoming after the last couple of days and as I scrambled my way over fences and fields towards Ulbster I was glad I didn't have to do this in the rain!  At Ulbster I picked up the very fast A99 taking me along to one of the bigger settlements at Lybster.
The Old A99
Once past Lybster I continued onto Latheron and then Latheron Wheel finally arriving in Dunbeath 1hour before my bus was due, a really nice long weekends walking and it will be June 2015 before I am back on the trail so I had to make the most of it!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Walk 195

John O Groats to Thrumster 31.5miles

It was drizzly and cold as I made my way down to the harbour at JOG, in my mind I had expected all sorts of emotions when I got to this point of the journey, but as I strolled down the hill towards the LEJOG signpost I felt very little in the way of happiness/elation I was just a bit disappointed.  I think the fact that I was the only one there may have had something to do with it, as I had no one to share with the news of my epic journey to this point.
The end or just the beginning
From JOG I followed the coast path making it up as I went along all the way to the lighthouse at Duncansby Head and then onto the stacks of Duncansby.
Duncansby Lighthouse

The Stacks of Duncansby
The going was really easy underfoot and this was coast walking at its best, the stacks were amazing and I wished I'd bought my "proper" camera with me so I could photograph them in more detail.


I continued on following the coast all the way to the road at Skirza, the going was tough at times but well worth it as after Skirza I came across Freswick bay with its lovely beach.
Freswick Bay

From Freswick bay I had to head inland and follow the A99 road for a few miles through Auckengill and Nybster and past the castle at Keiss.  Once I reached the Rough of Stain I was able to pick up the beach which by my reckoning was 3 miles long yippee!!
Keiss Castle and the beach in the distance!
I had noticed on my map that halfway along the beach there was a small river running into the sea, I thought no problem there are bound to be stones I can skip wrong could I be!!  So it was off with my boots and socks and gingerly I waded across the river and boy was the water cold!!!  Anyhow I made it across without any mishaps and used one of my t shirts to dry my feet and try and get some warmth back into them!
                At he end of the beach I picked my way through fields and roads eventually arriving at Ackergill Tower this in turn led onto the remains of Castle Sinclair.
Castle Sinclair
A good marked path from the castle took me around the lighthouse at Noss Head, unfortunately you cant get near the lighthouse as its a private residence so I had to make do with taking a photo from distance!
Noss Head Lighthouse
There was a sort of path which took me around the coast to Staxigoe and here I picked my way around the town of Wick.  I didn't like Wick as its grey and unwelcoming so I was glad I didn't have to stay there for the evening.  Once I was past Wick I picked up a path that took me to the Wick Castle remains here I followed the coast to Hembriggs which was tough going across boggy land.  At Hembriggs (and with the light fading) I walked the last few miles along the very fast A99 to my final destination of Thrumster.

Accommodation:  Thrumster Estates, Thrumster.  £50.00 BnB.  Fantastic place that has to be seen to be believed, so much history in one house I'd highly recommend it!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Walk 194

Dunnet to John O Groats 21.5miles

I'm back on the coast path after a 4 week rest and as I predicted the weather is a lot worse than when I was last here! The day starts with a very SLOW bus ride from Thurso to my start point, I was itching to get off the bus so much so I sat on the step by the front door 1/2 a mile before getting to my stop!  Once off the bus I made my way through Dunnet and headed for the pier at Darwick Head, this is where the unofficial path to Dunnet Head starts, there is no path marked on the map but its definitely there on the ground!
The Head of Man
I picked my way around the coast passing Dunnet Hill on my right and Chapel Geo, Red Geo and Ashy Geo on my left before finally arriving at the Dunnet Head Lighthouse and mainland Britain's most northerly point, this was my 4th and now full set of Cardinal Points and I must say it felt petty good to be standing there looking out at the Orkney's!!!!
No Caption needed for this picture!
I basked in my glory for a few minutes and then hit the road towards the village of Brough.  Once in Brough I turned left towards Scarfskerry passing St Johns Castle on the way.
St Johns Castle
The castles are in abundance in this part of Scotland and I was soon upon another after leaving Scarfskerry at Castle Mey.
Castle Mey
Just after East Mey I picked up the main A 836 road and this took me past the ferry port of Gills Bay and through Kirkstyle before arriving very wet at my bed for the night at John O Groats.

Accomodation: Seaview Hotel. Great location, very average Bed and Breakfast £55.00

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Walk 193

Thurso to Dunnet 11.5miles

It was the last day of my walking holiday and I had a relatively short walk to the far end of Dunnet beach.
              The morning was crisp and clear as I started today's walk and as I wandered along the sea front I reflected on what had been a fantastic 10 days of walking, I don;t think that I will be as lucky with the weather when I come back in October!
               After the sea front ended I had to negotiate the River Thurso but once across I scooted around the castle ruins at Thurso East.

Thurso Castle
After the Castle I had to make it up as I went along today and headed along the coast towards Murkle Bay. There were a few fences along the way and I immediately noticed that the residents of the fields had changed to the more Bovine variety!!!! Uh Oh!!!  The walk was quite tricky and overgrown in places and at one point I had to take a diversion onto the main road to avoid a large field of bullocks!
                          Once past Murkle bay I arrived at Castlehill with its various ruined buildings it all looked very interesting but unfortunately I had a bus to catch!  I headed for Dunnet Beach and walked its magnificent beach for 2 miles a great way to end 10 days of walking.