Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Day 18b: Duncansby Head and Dunnet Head

John o' Groats is the most north-easterly settlement on the British mainland, but there are points geographically more remote that are worth a visit. So, after half an hour or so looking around John o' Groats, I set off on a short 2-mile road to the east, leading to Duncansby Head, the most north-easterly point on the British mainland. Here stands a short lighthouse (being just 11m tall). A short walk south across the clifftops led me to some great views of the Stacks of Duncansby (pictured).

I then set off back along the A836 towards Thurso. About half-way along, I took a road going north-westerly, through the village of Brough and out onto the peninsula of Dunnet Head. The road gradually rose to a high point of just over 100m after about 5 miles, where I found another lighthouse - this one situated at the most northerly point on the British mainland. I ate a pleasant lunch here with spectacular views of rainbows framing the island of Hoy (one of the Orkneys) beyond the lighthouse.

Finally, I set off back to Thurso, with a couple of unexpected and fierce showers to remind me of the vagaries of the Scottish weather. The sun was shining again when I arrived back in Thurso, however - a wonderful end to a fantastic holiday!

Distance: 31.9 miles
Total ascent: 488m
Interactive route map and profile: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/2190

Day 18a: Thurso to John o' Groats

A great start to my final day, with a mixture of clear blue skies to the north and cloud to the south providing a lot of sunshine throughout the day. From Thurso, the A836 followed the coast quite closely and was pretty flat, with just a few undulations every now and again. The road seemed fairly busy for the first few miles, but got a lot quieter at around Castletown (where there is a B-road to Wick).

The going was pretty easy, especially with a slight south-westerly breeze to help me on my way, and I arrived into John o' Groats at around 10:15am, just under 16 days and 23 hours after leaving Land's End! That's only about 15 days and 3 hours over the current record - hmm, maybe next time ;-)

In fact, I was a little too early getting to John o' Groats as the "official" signpost wasn't yet set up. So, I had my photo taken against a "fake" sign by one of the gift shops. After a little wander around, admiring the excellent clear views across to the Isle of Stroma and the Orkneys beyond, I was done! Or was I? - read on to the next entry...

Distance: 19.8 miles
Total ascent: 231m
Cumulative distance: 1038.7 miles
Interactive route map and profile: http://ridewithgps.com/trips/2189