Keiss to John O’Groats, 22Km then ferry to Orkney
Another exhilarating clifftop walk today brought me to the end of the John O’Groats trail. The fog disappeared overnight so the visibility was good. I’ve now taken hundreds of photos of the wild Caithness coastline and this morning I made a short 40 second video walking along the cliff top path. It was just a normal clip which I made as I walked but it gives a fair impression of the experience. To be honest, it looks worse than it was but if you suffer from vertigo it might be better not to watch it.
The trail took me past so many ruined castles that it made me wonder what life was like when they were all thriving. Imagine the parties! I reached Freswick Bay and sat on the beach with coffee from my flask and a biscuit. There was no one around because the main A9 road has disappeared inland so the only way to see this coastline is to walk up it.
Freswick Bay seemed endless but once I cleared it, I made fast progress around Skirza Head, Skippie Geo, Salt Skerry and the Wife & Fast Geos. Then it was up and over the Hill of Crogodale, past the impressive Stacks of Duncansby, Thirle Door, The Knee, the Geo of Sclaites and Duncansby Head which is the very north eastern corner of Britain. There is a lighthouse and a car park here, the cliffs now have fences and there are people wandering around. And then it was downhill to John O’Groats, the horrible tourist haven which many people believe to be the end of the world.
Gary dropped my bag in the ferry office. There was just one other passenger on board for the crossing to Orkney. My plan is to walk the six stages of the St Magnus pilgrimage over the coming week from my base in Dounby. I haven’t really progressed the plan at all. I thought I would just take a taxi to the start of each stage and arrange a pickup. But this is Orkney and nothing here is normal. I’m too tired to think about it because I was awake until midnight watching the tennis. I’ve ordered a full-ish Scottish breakfast for the morning and will make a plan afterwards.