The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Day 84 - Dunnet to John O'Groats

7 July
Distance: about 20 miles

It was an early alarm and an early hour as I stuck my head between the curtains hoping for sunshine. It was raining.

By twenty to nine we were standing on Dunnet Head, taking a self-photo (there was no-one else around at that hour to take one for us). If the distances on the road signs are to be believed, we kept up an incredible speed to the Head. We didn't quite believe the road signs.

My focus by this point was purely on getting to JOG. Mick kept telling me that I was marching away, but being so close I didn't want to dally.

We didn't pause for second breakfast or elevenses, but did make the time to pop into the hotel at Mey for tea and biscuits (which cost the same as our extensive breakfast yesterday morning), then it was back onto the road (soon turning onto a minor one for traffic avoidance) for the last 7 miles.

About five miles out, the sky started to show signs of brightening. An island started appearing out of the gloom off the coast. Twenty minutes later it was bright enough to see that there were houses on that island. It looked like I could get my wish for a sunny walk-in afer all.

With my knees and Mick's feet aching from the constant fast road walking we paused for lunch with a couple of miles to go. I really hope that that's the last time in a long time that I have a lunch that involves oatcakes, cheese or sardines!

When the 'end point' at JOG comes into view it is hardly an overwhelming sight. A collection of buildings that look less than attractive. The views off-shore are undeniably good (and the weather was decidedly fine by now) but that was the case further up the coast too.

Nevertheless, JOG was where we were headed and before we knew it we were there. Across the car park we walked, having spotted the all important finish-line sign post.

Just then a car pulled up alongside. A window opened and Mick was asked if he knew where the finish was. He was about to answer when he realised that this was someone he knew.

My cousin and her husband and my aunt and Maurice had decided, way back when, to take a holiday in Scotland this week with the hope that they could come and surprise us. We were indeed surprised (very very pleasantly so) and they could not have timed their arrival better.

Photos were taken at the sign-post (timed at this end so that the arms were there and so was the man with the letters) then off we went to find celebratory drinks.

The JOG hotel is no more so we were back down the road to the Sea View just a quarter of a mile away.

We were just supping a bottle of bubbly when appeared a chap who asked if we were Gayle and Mick who had just walked from Land's End.

We soon learned that this was Steve. He originally hales from half a mile up the road from Land's End, but now lives up here. It was his sister's B&B in which we stayed the night before we set out and having heard from her about our journey has followed the Blog and came to meet us. It was one final really nice surprise meeting, so thank you Steve for coming over.

He also left us with another £20 for the Macmillan fundraising.

We should now be in the tent as we were meant to be camping tonight. That plan went awry when Mick went to the bar and accidentally ordered a double room with the pint of beer. Hey ho. I suppose I'll just have to put up with another comfy bed...

Our journey is not entirely over. Tomorrow we will get up early and make the jaunt over to Duncansby Head, just for completeness. Having carried my bag every step of the way from Land's End to John O'Groats via Lizard and Dunnet Head, my left shoulder will rejoice at an unencumbered stroll tomorrow.

Once we've completed those couple of miles I will give my overall thoughts of the journey. I will also see if I can finally bully Mick into using the Blogging Device and saying a few words too.


  1. Tell us about the beard Mick!
    And what happened to poor ol' Wendy?
    Bl**dy well done you two! Having a large glass of Lagavulin here to celebrate.

  2. Gayle, Mick,

    thanks for all the constant and entertaining stories along the walk. What a discipline pulling everything together each evening!
    You can be very proud of what you achieved physically, mentally and for MacMillan. Celebrate and enjoy! You definitely earned it!

  3. Well done folks - now what?

  4. Well Done Blacky and Gayle E Bird! Have been following your blog most evenings. Faulkes writes with almost Tolhurst-esque style nowadays!
    See you soon. GT

  5. Ginger Tart!

    Not only have I taken on Tolhurst-esque writing style, but Mick's taken on the Tolhurst Beard!

    We are becoming Mr. T. Eeek.

  6. Tolhurst-esque? Don't know about that but I love the article. Takes me back to my time in and aroung J.O.G. but thats another story... ps like the pics too!