A very sad start to the day today - we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Wendy as she headed off home. We couldn’t have done it without her, and in fact we wouldn’t have done it without her as it was all her idea (although in fairness she only said she wanted to drive it)! We will miss her so much, all her support and also the laughs she has provided along the way!
We then left for our start point at Keiss harbour, where we decided to take the dogs with us for the first stretch. On our way we passed Keiss Castle which looked beautiful in the sunshine.
Unfortunately we hadn’t quite read the guidebook for this section of the trail well enough which meant we ended up having to lift them over stiles and fences, and them having to negotiate various obstacles! They were absolute stars though and nothing fazed them!
The ground was quite boggy and slippery, as Olivia soon found out!
We met Phil and handed the dogs over to him, before continuing on past yet more beautiful scenery, crossing a river and making our way through various ruins.
Eventually we came across a pig farm - the pigs were all so friendly and came running down to the fence to see us! Kate in particular enjoyed chatting to them and we were sad to leave them!
Onwards we went, admiring the beautiful coastline including stacks, sea arches and geos . We managed to creep up on a Kestrel which was sitting near the top of one of the geos, watching for prey below. The flowers and plants here were also amazing colours and the purple of the heather looked incredible against the blue of the sea. We passed Bucholly Castle perched precariously on the rocks.
We rounded the headland to begin our descent into Freswick bay which involved battling with quite a lot of nettles! The castle here was also stunning. At this point a diversion was in place on the John o’ Groats trail which sent us round by the road and down to a little harbour. It was here that we met Phil for a much-needed lunch!
After lunch we climbed back up onto the cliff tops, where the coastline just kept getting more and more spectacular, culminating in the Stacks of Duncansby. On the way we spotted a Great Skua which was very impressive! We also had great views over Stroma and Hoy.
Inverness to John o’ Groats by road is 120 miles, and as we’d already done 109 we only really needed to do 11 today. However we decided to go for it and push for the extra 2 miles or so into John o’ Groats. We took the dogs with us again - it was nice to start and end end the day with them and it was much easier walking than it had been in the morning. Passing the Bay of Sannick it wasn’t long before we could see John o’ Groats in the distance.
After a short rest at Ness of Duncansby, we headed off for our final stretch, watching the rain out at sea. It was a bittersweet moment when we passed our last John o’ Groats Trail sign. We would definitely recommend this trail but maybe not in August when the vegetation is so thick and definitely not in 8 days (the recommended length is 14 days!).
Finally we found ourselves at the famous signpost where we had our photo taken before enjoying some celebratory chips from The Cabin at John o’ Groats!
Today means that we’ve completed the East Coast and to be honest we’re wondering why we didn’t think this was enough of a challenge! We certainly feel like we’ve done enough already but we’re only really a quarter of the way there. We’ve loved our time on the East Coast but it’s on to the North Coast for now!