The day didn’t get off to a great start. I ended up missing the 8:40 bus to John O’Groats because the stagecoach bus service no longer stops at Wick station, regardless of what it states on the timetable actually posted at the station nor online. (Sigh, British Transport…) As I had to get an early start I couldn’t wait for the next arrival so I elected to take a £26 taxi up to the northern coast, as compared to the £3 it would have cost me on the bus.
It would appear that the John O’Groats photographer has indeed retired but the famous signpost still remains. The place was fairly quiet with a only few Scandinavian tourists mulling about so I quickly took the opportunity to snap a selfie and get on the road to Duncansby Head further northeast, but not before buying a small sew-on patch for my fleece with the name and flag of my starting point.
The day couldn’t have been more beautiful. It was the type of day you would want your walk to end if you were starting at Land’s End and finishing in Scotland. I’m very glad I made the effort to visit Duncansby Head before heading south, for it was truly breathtaking and a much more dramatic scene to start my journey than all the tourists shops and cafes at John O’Groats.
The first stretch of my walk was 22 miles and relatively easy going back to Wick, especially without my backpack. The A99 has a slight soft shoulder but definitely nothing wide enough to walk along. Thankfully they are used to End-to-Enders around here so the traffic moves sufficiently out of the way when passing, with the exception of the dreaded HGVs. The sun was blazing and the winds were quite cool over much of the farmland covering the distance back to my B&B. Thankfully I slathered on the 30 sun protection before I set off but I did forget my hat and sunglasses (idiot).
When I returned to Wick last night I quite literally ate a quick store-bought dinner and a thimble full of whiskey (or more), showered and passed out. I’m writing this all now before I repack my backpack and head out the door for Day 2.