Day 99 Most Northerly Point of the British Mainland

Monday 13 July 2015

John O’Groats to Thurso

18 miles

Thurso Campsite

It was a cold night but I was nice and warm when I stuffed my coat inside my sleeping bag. I woke to more rain but fortunately it stopped pretty quickly and the tent dried out. Michael’s family had arrived to spend a few days celebrating his completion of LEJOG. He made me a cup of tea while packed away and gave me a packet of biscuits (someone had given him one on his trip so he passed on the favour). 

I caught the 9.30 bus about 5 miles to East Mey and from there I walked on the minor roads through small hamlets and around the cliffs. First though I passed Castle of Mey, the late Queen Mother’s Caithness home from 1952 to 1996. Unfortunately it didn’t look as fine as usual wrapped in scaffolding.  

Castle Mey, not looking its best
 I stopped in the tea room to charge my phone over a coffee and then pressed on. I passed a red phone box that someone called Mark has turned into a book exchange.  

The book exchange, Harrow
 I occasionally had some good views along the coast and of Orkney but it was a grey day so the visibility was not the best. I could just about see the Old Man of Hoy through the grey-ness. 

Looking across the Pentland Firth at Hoy, Orkney
 After a couple of hours I arrived at Brough and stopped in the cafe for a spot of lunch. I got chatting to Dan the lawnmower man (he’s 74 years old and retired from truck driving so mows lawns to keep busy). These Northern Scots are a hardy bunch in their old age!

I wanted to walk to Dunnet Head, Britain’s most Northerly Point, so endured the boredom of one road there and back. There was no way I was going to try and walk around the headland keeping to the coast – way too boggy and no footpath. I was disappointed that not one car stopped and offered me a lift. Still, it was a pleasant walk as it wasn’t raining and Dunnet Head was worth the effort. The cliffs by the lighthouse had lots of birds, including puffins, and the views were 360 degrees from the viewpoint. Sadly the grey day didn’t make for good photographs.  


Dunnet Head Lighthouse facing Orkney
Dunnet Head cliffs looking along to Cape Wrath
 During WW2 Dunnet Head was an important radar station and before that it had been a lookout for submarines trying to sneak into Scapa Flow only 6 miles away. I walked back to Brough along the same road and admired the scars made by peat digging.  

Dunnet Head scarred from peat digging
 From Brough I took the road to Dunnet Village and then onto Dunnet Beach for 2 miles. The sand was a sort of grey colour and there was a ‘slick’ of seaweed that covered the shore. Other than that it was a nice beach and there was a lone surfer in the water trying to catch the 6 inch waves.  

A weird seaweed being washed onto the shore at Dunnet Bay
 I picked up the pace in order to make the last bus at Castletown. I was just approaching the bus stop when the bus went past. Gutted. Fortunately I’d bumped into a couple of guys on the beach that I’d seen earlier in the Brough cafe (always good to stop at cafes) and they were driving to Thurso. They drove past me just after the bus as stopped to give me a lift. I was very grateful. It had started raining again.  

Foam on the Dunnet Beach, and sunshine!
 I got dropped off at the campsite which overlooks Thurso Bay. The rain stopped and I put my tent up. 

Caithness Stone was quarried here in Thurso and Castletown, and exported to the British Empire. Lots of the fences around here are stone fences. I think they look quite good.  


4 thoughts on “Day 99 Most Northerly Point of the British Mainland

  1. Donna Munday July 15, 2015 / 12:12 am

    Hi Luc. Was looking at the map of NW Scotland tonight, and I think the suggestion of hiring a campervan to do some of it has a bit of merit! I’ve been to NW Scotland twice, once doing an Island driving holiday and once when we went to the Summer Isles. It’s such a stunning area, and you might enjoy it more if you spent a couple of weeks driving along the roads which would then give you time to do the more interesting walks in each town/village/hamlet/mountain etc. Donna xx


    • Lucy July 15, 2015 / 6:55 am

      Well Donna and Jo, thanks for the suggestion. I haven’t updated blog yet but travelled down to Inverness yesterday in order to hire a car to pretty much do what you’re suggesting. Thanks for your advice. A plan is forming. More to follow x


  2. Chris Frazer July 15, 2015 / 7:44 am

    Into quadruple figures in terms of distance, triple figures in terms of days……well done Juice truly excellent effort….outstanding. Perhaps you should have chosen Dunnet Head as your finish point having ‘dunnit’. Keep going buddy it’s all down hill now.


  3. Val K July 15, 2015 / 6:02 pm

    So pleased you’ve decided to go with Donna and Jo’s suggestion. Enjoy. Val x


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