Start: KEISS. Finish: JOHN O’GROATS
I woke early and just lay awake staring into my tent for the last morning of my LEJOG, thinking about how I would feel as I reached the end of my journey. I got myself ready and set off for Wick town centre where I would catch the service 77 bus to Keiss before completting the final few miles to JOG. I grabbed myself a quick coffee and a bacon bap from Wetherspoons and turned up at the bus station with plenty of time to spare. A short time later a bus arrived showing ’81’ and the driver pulled in just beyond the bus stop. I waited for a few minutes before I checked the front of the bus and saw the number had been changed to ’77’. I boarded the bus, had a giggle with the driver about the change of numbers and less then 15 minutes later I arrived in Keiss. I then stood in On Keiss Main Street and considered what I should do. The A99 would be nice and simple and I’d be there in just a few hours, alternatively I could jump back onto the John O’Groats trail and see how it goes. I really didn’t want the last day to be a quick plod along the tarmac of the A99, so despite my misgivings about the JOG trail I decided to give it one more go. Almost immediately I was rewarded with fantastic views and great walking as I walked towards old Keiss Castle which is sitting on the edge of the cliffs looking out towards the sea with only the occasional seagull for company. It’ll be a sad day when it finally topples into the water. I continue along the coast with several barbed wire fences to jump. On one occasion I lost my balance and fell onto the ground narrowly avoiding a large cow pat. I just laughed to myself, cos nothing was going to spoil today’s mood. There was a visible path along the edge of the cliffs and plenty of opportunities for photographs and sometimes just stopping and taking in the atmosphere. Near Brought Head I passed a small monument at the ‘Brock’. Now I’ve passed several of these ‘Brocks’ in the last week and wondered what they were about. They come in various states of ruin and apparently stem from the Iron Age. The actual purpose of the structures is still being argued about in archaeological conversations and the largest concentration of these is in Northern Scotland. I pushed on and could see Freswick Bay in the distance. I wanted to push on along the coast for as long as I could but ultimately knew I would need to rejoin the road after Freswick Bay, leading into John O’Groats. That was the direction that Gemma was expecting me to arrive from. Before that I came across another ruined castle, near Castle Geo. this one is also teetering on the edge of the cliffs and I stood there wondering how far the cliffs had eroded since its construction. I had several more barbed wire fences to contend with before arrival on the Northern end of the bay. There was no easy access to reach the A99 from Freswick Bay so I just had to walk across the fields and the dense bracken until I stepped onto the road near to Warth Hill with about 2 miles to walk to JOG. I set off and within minutes I saw Gemma driving by. I was so fortunate that the weather was just about perfect and I could see for miles on every direction. As I approached, I could see Gemma standing next to the famous John O’Groats sign and just strode onwards. When I reached the sign I wasn’t quite sure what I should do next. I wanted to shout out or yell something but there were lots of tourists lingering around the sign. Me, Gemma, Ben and Ruth then set off to walk with Alfie towards Duncansby Head and visited the Stacks of Duncansby.
Walked: 1,012 miles Percentage completed: 100%
N.B. I want to thank everybody for taking the time to read my blog and any comments left were much appreciated. I think it’ll take a few weeks at home before the efforts of what I’ve just done sink in. I know I didn’t scale Everest or anything of that magnitude, however I’m pleased to be part of a small club that has walked from Lands End to John O’Groats. The memories will live with me forever. Th