Thursday, 4 May 2017


John o' Groats → Brough

mirror-selfie.jpg Distance: 12.71 miles
Ascent: 196 metres
Duration: 3 hours 52 minutes

West from the Dutchman's house
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With LE-JoG done, it's time for us to pick up on JoG-LE again. We're heading west.

The walk started out well with a good footpath leaving John o' Groats, but that quickly petered out. We soon tired of trying to find a coastal route across fields so dropped back to minor roads.

jan-de-groot.jpgA tombstone in the church at Canisbay marks the grave of a Dutchman, Jan de Groot, who was granted a license to run a ferry to Orkney. It's curious seeing evidence that Jan was anything other than a fable, dreamt up as a quaint story to tell tourist day-trippers about how a place got its name.

chickens.jpgIn an attempt to encourage more tourists to the far north of Scotland, a touring route — the North Coast 500 — has been created. Its popularity has rocketed of late and we were expecting the roads we walked on today to be busy with NC500 cars and bikes, but traffic was reasonably light.

mey.jpgWe eventually hit the beach again just before the Castle of May, a collection of tall, square stone towers looking out over the Firth, chiefly famous for being a favourite haunt of the Queen Mother. On any other day, we would have stopped to explore the stone-walled gardens and enjoy a pot of tea in the castle grounds. Instead we dashed past the gates and paced on along the roadside to Brough to catch the bus back to Jan de Groot's old house.

Notes for future walkers:

  • From the John o' Groats signpost there's an excellent path leading west, but it stops just after a track heading inland at ND 377 734. We took the track to the A836 to Huna.
  • In Huna (ND 358 733) we tried to follow the coast again, but it was too rocky so headed inland again from the Haven of Seater (ND 354 732).
  • For a little relief from the A836, turn off on a winding local road just after the road to Gills Pier (ND 326 726, ND 325 727, ND 326 727, ND 324 727, ND 321 728).
  • We turned off the A-road again at ND 311 738, continuing onto a track to the shore at ND 293 745 past the Castle of Mey to Harrow (ND 290 741, ND 282 741, ND 281 973) before following local roads (ND 273 745, ND 265 744, ND 244 727, ND 237 737) all the way to Brough.

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