The cliffs at the top

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.

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21 thoughts on “The cliffs at the top

  1. Flora
    What can I say? A fantastic achievement but one that only you could do with grace, determination, a smile (most of the time) and a willingness to share the highs and lows with the most fabulous stories, pictures and videos.
    I feel blessed to know someone who has done this, to be able to follow your journey, to have walked with you for about 8 of the 1186 miles (such a softy southerner!) and to have been able to cheer you on from the sidelines.
    What a girl! Well done!
    Cathy
    x
    p.s. planned or thought about the next one yet, as the Flora I know will have something in her head about a challenge she wants to undertake 🙂

  2. Well done Flora! I felt quite emotional for you, the photos are as always amazing and beautiful weather too.
    what adventure will Flora and little Flora get up to next?!!

      • Thanks Flora, yes we did it in 10.55 which I was quite proud of, and I have so much respect for you and what you have done; truly inspirational!
        I’m so glad you and Grant eventually met up its really weird isn’t it …all those miles then there he was sharing a brew with Ian, amazing! X

  3. Flora, what an awesome achievement and personal challenge which not many people could complete. Really well done. Here’s to the next challenge. Take care. Simon

  4. Flora,

    What a brilliant achievement! It has been fascinatinto follow your journey and your thoughts and to see the lovely photos and hear about highs and lows and interesting encounters.

    Congratulations!

    Janie

  5. Gosh Flora – I’m deeply impressed…. have actually been to John o’ Groats believe it or not… so, aware of Scottish remote – a very long time ago needless to say. Just back from Albania, far from solo, a thrilling country, suggest you – and Ian? – go there soon, wilder than JOG, very explore-worthy. Come and see me soon x Jane

    • Hello Jane! Just yesterday I was thinking about you. Albania! I can’t wait to hear all about it. I bet it was fascinating.
      I promise to come and visit. Perhaps in Celeste.

  6. Well done Flora! As I sit in bed reading this at 11.52 on a Sunday morning what is freaking me out is your early starts!

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