DAY 1: John O’Groats (JoG) to Castletown – 15 miles
So YAY I finally have day one under my belt… and what a day it was! The first night in my wee bivi tent was cosy and I slept well, despite it never really getting dark and waking at 5am to find the whole bottom half of my sleeping bag soggy and wet. Not sure if that’s from rain leakage or condensation but there is no way to stop the ceiling flopping onto the sleeping bag underneath… so guess I’ll just have to get used to it 😳
Thankfully the rain had stopped by then so I managed to get everything to the shower block for a stress free shake down and re-pack. One more round of signpost photos, I headed to the Seaview Hotel for fuel (porridge and fry-up with three rounds of toast!) and picked up my first offical JOGLE stamp. So it was just after 9am that I finally ventured out of my comfort zone, taking my first steps along this epic end-to-end route. Grey skies eventually turned to sun, although the wind never really let up so if felt chilly most the day. I stayed on the one long road all day which followed the coastline (no getting lost!) through beautiful rugged plains covered in little yellow flowers, past the occasional house, next to a fair amount of cattle (thankfully behind fences now I have suddenly developed a fear of cows!) and one long sweeping sandy beach.
Arriving at Castletown completely knackered – exactly 15 miles west of JoG – I finally managed to find somewhere that sold food, and scoffed down a homemade meat pie and white choc cheesecake whilst waiting for my pick up… Kat showed up right on time in her mean machine sporty car (sorry she did tell me what make it is, but I’ve completely forgotten! All I can say is it was blue and very shiny) and drove me the 5 miles onto the house in Thurso that she shares with her partner Fiona. With the last rays falling in their back garden I managed to dry off all my camping stuff, whilst chatting to Kat about this and that. The topic of conversation however soon turned to the local area, which way should I head next. When Fiona came home she joined in the discussions and it soon became clear that it was not obvious and would need considerable more research. Not having the head for it right there and then, all thoughts of tomorrow got parked as we enjoyed some fresh local salmon, new pots and asparagus. With a lovely room in the attic to enjoy a good nights sleep… I attemped an early night, in readiness for my second big day tomorrow.