Day 79: 10 Jun 2014; John O’Groats to Dunnet Head

Day 79: 10 Jun 2014; John O’Groats to Dunnet Head
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 79
Date Tue 10 Jun 2014 Start to end time 05h 22m
Start point John O’Groats End point Dunnet Head
Miles today 15.96 Cu miles 1,492.33
Ft today 1,174 Cu ft 199,472
Route miles left 0.00 Route ft left 0
Today’s weather Dull and wet to start with; bright sunshine by lunchtime. Light variable wind. About 15C in sun
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Today’s location (the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment) GPX based track of today’s walk (click here to access to access downloadable file)

I had breakfast in bed this morning – well in the sleeping bag in my tent – and I realised as I enjoyed my meal of crisps, Mars bar and strawberry milkshake, just how hard it’s going to be to return to the “real” world after this walk. I will definitely need a bit of house-training I think.

Anyway, I dragged myself out of bed and packed away the tent for the final time. It was a dull wet day – quite a contrast with yesterday – and I was away by seven. I had a quick look round the small harbour at John O’Groats and then headed off back West, towards Dunnet Head. I didn’t hang around because it was quite cold and the fog which had descended overnight shrouded the views in mist. The Orkney Islands, in full view yesterday, had completely disappeared.

Once again, I was road-walking for speed – and because there are no footpaths up here anyway. I was quickly off the relatively busy Thurso road, and on quiet byroads which led to the Castle of Mey. This is a striking building, bought by the Queen Mother shortly after George VI died. It was one of her favourite residences – a bleak spot, far from the madding crowd, I guess, though nowadays I understand it’s only favoured by Prince Charles.

At Mey, our son James joined me, and together we walked the last 9 miles to Dunnet. It was great to have someone to share the last few miles with, and they sped by. And the icing on the cake was, as if by magic, the clouds started to lift and then rays of brilliant sunshine poured in through a blue cleft in the clouds.

I reached the very end of the road at Dunnet Head, the most Northerly point in mainland Britain, at 12:27pm today. I’d been walking for 79 days from the most Southerly point at the Lizard, and covered 1,492 miles with 199,472 ft of climbing. And as of now, I’ve raised £8,021.58p for the Scouts’ Hardship Fund.

To celebrate, we climbed to the trig point at the summit above the lighthouse, drank champagne and enjoyed the views in the brilliant sunshine. I think I am supposed at this stage to record profound thoughts about the impact this walk has had on my life, etc. But in reality I’ve been focused on much more prosaic things. Like the delight of being able to get properly clean and to sleep in a bed which doesn’t have slugs in it; the thrill of travelling at speed in a car; and the relief at being able to walk without carrying 38lb of gear on my back. And in particular the anticipation of having that dram of Highland Park tonight, which I’ve been promising myself ever since I set off.

But yes – I can’t deny I feel a bit proud of myself. In fact, aside from getting married and having children, I think it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Cows and sheep up here are clearly very well educated… The Castle of Mey. One of the late Queen Mother’s favourite haunts. I expect Kate likes coming up here on holiday, too
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As the rain cleared and the mist lifted, Dunnet Head slowly came into view With my wife, Val, at the end of the road!
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Looking North to the Isle of Hoy. If you look carefully, you should be able to see an Old Man The view back East to John O’Groats, in the cloud in the far distance
180 degree panorama looking North, right from Cape Wrath at the far left, over Hoy in the centre, to John O’Groats at the far right
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line Solid line blue
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