Monday, 28 June 2010

Land’s End to John O’Groats…

…in only 55 days. By car. (and with a few minor detours)

Since leaving Lewis last Wednesday we have had 5 days off from working (managed to watch the footie on the ferry!). We decided to explore the North coast and headed up to Sheigra from Ullapool. Having thought we would camp there, on arrival it was little more than paying for the privilege of wild camping so instead we decided to hike into the beach at Sandwood Bay just South of Cape Wrath (recommended by Ali) and wild camp for free! It was 7 pm by the time we set off on the 5 mile walk from the nearest road but given the light evenings, this was no worry.

(Cape Wrath the furthest headland in this photo)

We camped in the dunes with a beautiful view of the long sandy beach. We fitted in cooking, eating, a long walk on the beach and a cup of chai and even after all that it was not properly dark!

Onwards and upwards around the coastal roads of Northern Scotland and headed round until eventually we reached John O’Groats. A little cooler than the heatwave down south but we still had some beautiful weather and sunsets.

From here we went on a day trip to the Orkney Isles, seeing seals and puffins as we travelled. We passed the intriguingly abandoned island of Stroma and sailed across the turbulent (though not extreme enough for Matthew!) Pentland Firth.

Orkney was quite different to Lewis. Kirkwall (the capital) was a buzzy town. I really enjoyed all the history to the place – from Vikings to WW2. The Orcadians seem very proud of their Norwegian ancestry.

We visited the standing stones of Stenness:

and Brodgar:

And an amazing chapel created by Italian prisoners of war out of two army Nissen huts and painted inside to resemble the intricate stonework of their chapels back home:

We started our journey back down south staying with the Morgans (family friends) just north of Inverness on Saturday night. We joined a houseful and had a great time catching up. After walking Honey (the dog) we said our goodbyes and drove further south with little entertainment listening to the dire football match on the radio (we lost all reception at the most exciting bit where both England and Germany scored and where England had a goal disallowed!). Very kindly, Ali and Clare from Sheardrum put us up for a night and we were fortunate to be able to attend the opening night of Portmoak festival in which Ali was playing clarinet, it was a really lovely evening. This morning we have caught up with Tiny the lamb (who is growing!) and the new Highland calf.

Relaxing now (or if Ali and Clare are reading – working very hard pulling up lots of weeds) until we leave for our final WWOOFing placement in Scotland near Edinburgh this afternoon.

1 comment:

  1. Sigh. I think you write this stuff purposefully to make Swindon feel more depressing. I am green eyed. x