And we are done

  

Well that’s it. We have done it. 1000 something miles later and we have walked to John o’Groats. 
We will post again in a few days with final thoughts and some photos and what not. Right now however, it’s time for a pint and time to sit down…

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Our second to last day – Dunbeath to Wick lies ahead of us…

Setting off on our second to last day and starting to feel quite overwhelmed it’s coming to an end. However by the end of today I’m sure we will be glad…21 miles of flat road walking lies ahead of us between Dunbeath and Wick. Enough to turn anyone off this walking thing! I think we might have peaked yesterday with this road…beautiful sun meant walking in t-shirts, a few decent hills gave us some beautiful sweeping views over the coast and as it was Sunday cars were far and few between. We also spent yesterday morning watching a seal play off the shore near Healmsdale while drinking our morning coffee, which has to be the best way to start a day! 
Today does look set to be another wonderful day weather wise though and mum is walking with us again so we will reserve judgement on the day until the end! 

A9 walking….

David here…

T-minus three days. That’s all we have left now, three days, the same amount of time as Naomi and Sepha were with us. 55 miles. Crazy.

The last couple of days have been really quite significantly better than we had feared. We’d feared that the A9 would be an accident waiting to happen. But so far, *touch wood* it’s not. It’s not ideal walking conditions as the vehicles which go past, do so at generally very high speeds, but thankfully there are not too many, and as of this point, we have been able to see them from a good distance away so we have been able to prepare ourselves. There haven’t been too many bends or corners and generally there has been a wide, grassy verge to walk on. Anyway if you ignore the cars and remember the fact that this is Scotland, so every inch is rather quite beautiful, the last couple of days have not been too bad at all as the road tends to stick to the coast with the odd seal bobbing up into view every now and then to say hello.

However, the highlight by quite some distance, was definitely bringing an end to Simons sheer dominance over me at chess, whilst sitting with a beautiful backdrop of the North Sea at our wild camp spot.  (Our camping spot incidentally On the 26th September was at Carn Liath and the ruins of a 2000 year old Broch which was once a fortified home for a family or small community – it’s amazing just how much history we have around us and quite awesome to be camping right by something so old!) 

Anyway back to the chess, Simon may have beaten me the best part of a dozen times over the last three years, but last night, I prevailed. Thanks to 19.7 miles of calculating strategies and potential moves, Simon had to knock the king piece over and hail me champion! 

I would like to take this moment to announce my retirement from the game of chess, as anybody who knows sport, knows the only way to go out, is to go out at the top! 

A9 walking….

David here…

T-minus three days. That’s all we have left now, three days, the same amount of time as Naomi and Sepha were with us. 55 miles. Crazy.

The last couple of days have been really quite significantly better than we had feared. We’d feared that the A9 would be an accident waiting to happen. But so far, *touch wood* it’s not. It’s not ideal walking conditions as the vehicles which go past, do so at generally very high speeds, but thankfully there are not too many, and as of this point, we have been able to see them from a good distance away so we have been able to prepare ourselves. There haven’t been too many bends or corners and generally there has been a wide, grassy verge to walk on. Anyway if you ignore the cars and remember the fact that this is Scotland, so every inch is rather quite beautiful, the last couple of days have not been too bad at all as the road tends to stick to the coast with the odd seal bobbing up into view every now and then to say hello.

However, the highlight by quite some distance, was definitely bringing an end to Simons sheer dominance over me at chess, whilst sitting with a beautiful backdrop of the North Sea at our wild camp spot.  (Our camping spot incidentally was at Carn Liath and the ruins of a 2000 year old Broch which was once a fortified home for a family or small community – it’s amazing just how much history we have around us and quite awesome to be camping right by something so old!) 

Anyway back to the chess, Simon may have beaten me the best part of a dozen times over the last three years, but last night, I prevailed. Thanks to 19.7 miles of calculating strategies and potential moves, Simon had to knock the king piece over and hail me champion! 

I would like to take this moment to announce my retirement from the game of chess, as anybody who knows sport, knows the only way to go out, is to go out at the top! 

Dingwall to Tain

Cesca again. 

David forgot to metion several things:

1) We saw Dolphins!!! 

2) We saw Dolphins!!!

3) We saw some seals….

So on our rest day in Inverness, after Sepha and Naomi had abandoned us for grown up things such as work and real life, Holly, David and I, headed off in Holly’s car to explore the Black Isle near Inverness as we had heared tales of Dolphins off the coast…and Dolphins  we saw! (Well two at least and a few seals…but still Dolphins off Scotland…who knew?)

Anyway, after a nights wild camp where I awoke in the night convinced there were wild pigs sniffing around outside our tent (I blame the cafe we stopped off at on the last day of the Great Glen Way where two pet pigs roamed freely and tried snuffling around in our rucksacks before Sepha bravely chased them off) we set off on cycle route 1. Today we followed the cycle route all day…for 22.5 miles. How I wish we had bikes – it would have been far quicker! Instead I have battered and bruised feet, and for the first time in quite a while feel a little stiff (Naomi, Sepha and Holly you can give a little cheer at this!) 

To be fair though, the walking wasn’t that bad. Small lanes and cycle paths, fairly decent views and only some light showers. However I was bored and not in the mood. I missed Naomi’s constant chatter about nothing and everything and had to resort to an audiobook to pass the time. David had to entertain himself and his walking stick became a golf club and then a gun. 

One day closer to the end! 

 

Days 60something to 60 something more…(Fort Augustus to Dingwall)

David here…

So it’s been a while since we last blogged. So sorry to all the fans out there for making you wait! There has basically been a mix of very social days and nights and very little battery. Blogging therefore has unfortunately not been easy. However, it has all been worth it as it has been a great few days. 

As Cesca explained previously, Naomi and Sepha were joining us for a few days. We met them in Fort Augustus and they walked with us for the rest of the Great Glen way. Three days of, on the whole, lovely walking and beautiful weather. Two ended in a pub and one ended with five of us, as another friend, Holly, joined the fun in Dummodrochit, crammed into our tent in a ’15 year old David’s dream scenario’: one guy, four girls and a tiny tent. Whilst lovely, certain elements were not what he would have chosen! 

Personally the highlight was a couple of simply ridiculous lunch stops, with just unbelievable views across the highlands and down on to Loch Ness as where possible we chose the ‘high route’ option on the Great Glen Way. Despite a few steep climbs, given the views we had, it was definitely worth it. Naomi and Sepha both did pretty bloody well up until day three. However by the end of day three (18 miles) along with Holly, they were something akin to Zombies. An appreciation of how arthritis sufferers must feel was something which was mentioned more then once! Sadly this meant that dancing the night away at the local Ceilidh was off the cards. It was however, a really lovely few days, some of our favourites from the whole trip, friends, views, weather and beer…perfect. Well it would have been if it wasn’t for another simply stupidly expensive campsite in Inverness at the end of the Great Glen Way…£10 per backpacker so £50 for the lot of us…only if you came in a car it’s £18 for up to 4 people! But we still stayed there. The thought of having to hobble off and find somewhere else was too much. They are obviously on to a winner and could basically charge whatever the hell they liked. 

Sepha and Naomi left us yesterday (the 22nd) to fly back to London Holly meanwhile, being Holly was unsure of what she was doing and so formed part of the welcoming party for our next guests, Judith and Simon. Hurrah they are back and with Judith’s incredible lamb curry for dinner, lovely lovely lovely! Not fancying road walking Hols left us to go see other friends in Newcastle and so it was left to me, Cesca and Judith to start the hundred odd mile home straight to John O Groats. It’s blowing our mind that the next time we don’t walk on a day, it won’t be a rest day, it will be because we’re coming home! 

The day, as expected, was in general a bit rubbish as we followed a cycle path all day from Inverness through to Dingwall, complete with a rain shower at the end. It’s so frustrating knowing that we are close to some amazing scenery but being restricted to roads. (Due to a lack of confidence when planning this stage of the route we went for the tried and tested option of roads straight up from Inverness. However having met people along the way who have suggested many alternatives we definitely know how we would do it next time…Cape Wrath trail all the way!!) Unfortunately though we are now restricted for time so we can’t change our route so the next week of walking is all going to be rather crap and the blog posts will probably be rather dull. However what does it matter eh, two and half months of stunning walking, a week of road walking to see us home is irrelevant!