On Saturday I finished the main part of my journey – the walk from Lands End to John O Groats. I wrote up a quick blog post and posted a couple of pictures. What I didn’t do was give an account of my last couple of days walking.
I took my last section extremely slowly, even by my standards. Once I reached the North Sea, near Wick, I only had 13 or so miles to go. Due to a combination of enjoying the walk so much that I didn’t want to finish, and also wanting to end in fine weather, I split the 13 miles into two short half days. On Friday it poured down all morning, so I set off at 3.30pm and walked for a couple of hours until I reached a little parking area by the cliffs, just north of Keiss. (Pronounced Kyss). A fantastic seaside spot that Celeste and us had to ourselves all night. And then on Saturday morning I set off at 5.30am for my final 8 miles.
The walk was along a beach and then cliff tops. There’s no path from here to John O Groats, until about a mile or so before Duncansby Head (just by John O Groats). This makes for rather rough walking in parts. However I was really pleased that I chose this coastal route, as opposed to the more popular road walking finish. Only a couple of miles of it were a touch awkward, involving wading through waist high cow parsley, and an interesting bit where I had to cling to a sheep wire fence in order to cross a ditch, with the cliffs falling away beneath me. Otherwise it was all fine and mainly grass or heather. It’s a lot slower to walk on than the road, but I saw absolutely no one, and it was stunning. I hope some of the photos below do it justice.
During my last few miles I decided to listen to my Olympics Opening Ceremony soundtrack. (Seeing as the Olympics were one of the things that inspired me to do this walk). As I walked, staring at my phone to find the right album, I suddenly stopped short. I had been two steps away from walking right off the 200 metre high cliff. What a way to go that would have been! Three miles from John O Groats. Serves me right for looking at my phone. Anyway, I enjoyed the music and shed a tear or three as I reflected on my journey. I didn’t feel numb or have mixed feelings. I just felt elated and very happy.
Then all of a sudden I was there, at John O Groats, and rushing into Ian’s arms. Yes, there were more tears.