I am planning to run /walk /crawl again, this time from John O'Groats down 'South' to St Albans .......... not sure how far i will get but its one heck of a journey!

Friday, 21 May 2010



First night yesterday at the Inverness Youth Hostel and it was quite a novel experience! Shared a room with 4 other female buddies in our 'dorm' and as i arrived last i got a top bunk! Ugghhhhhh! Not a choice to be repeated as it was a right pain to keep shinnying up that ladder, especially at 3am in the morning! We also rather (in)conveniently had a coach load of 100 french students staying next door and i had forgotten how noisy that volume and nationality can be!

Still, .... noise, top bunk, snoring roomies and a new bed aside, it wasnt a bad first night. One of my lovely room companions, Carol, donated a Scottish £5 there and then to Grove House for my walk so i felt very heartened to have such generosity shown before i had even started, especially from a complete stranger.

I shared my Sultanan Bran breakfast with Rosemary from New Zealand (on route home via Dubai...taking 10 years ....) who looked a little woeful on her travels but i couldnt stay long enough to hear all the details as i wanted my day to cheer up somewhat so hurried out towards Wick Station and off for my last train journey.....

Stopping briefly via Morrisons, where i collected todays lunch and tea, i caught the 10.38 train of 2 carriages and rather fewer people than on yesterdays Kings Cross to Inverness. I didnt have to share my 4.5 hour journey with anyone else on my table so spread out all over it with my magazines and maps to do my last final bit of planning!

Once at Wick, there was a 1/2 hr wait to get the (school!) bus to John O'Groats, about 16 miles away. I waited with 2 fit tattooed rugby lads and their bikes, as they are also starting tomorrow on their own charity cycle to Lands End - only difference being they will be at their destination by next weekend and i will only be nearing Inverness! They plan to cover 120 miles each day / me only 20'ish! So hence the time delay on my travels! (shame i couldnt fit in a pannier but no chance at this late stage!)

I got dropped off outside my Youth Hostel at 4.20pm with the school children, only to find a large 'CLOSED' sign on the front door!!! CLOSED??? Closed for what? The winter? The Spring? The Summer? Or Closed just to me for this one day?

Well, it was closed.... until 5pm so i had a 40 minute wait in the drizzle whilst i phoned home to speak to the children and hear they are having a brilliant day of sunshine! Typical! After checking in at 5pm with Charlie & Nancy (who actually are just standing in for Jules!) i realised that i was still 3 miles from JO'G and that tomorrow morning i would need to do a 6 mile round trip to get there for a photo before i even got my day going ... hmmm....

So i decided to get this walk started EARLY and begin today by marching (without my pack, well it was just a warm up!) to John O'Groats to officially wave the flag! I took around 40 mins to reach the hallowed spot but was absolutely AGHAST to find that only a post was in the ground and no official JOG signpost was to be seen except one against a cafe wall! I later discovered that there is a man who OWNS the sign and he takes it home each night and doesnt get there til 9'ish for the tourists when the Ferries come in!!! Sacrilage! I really thought that famous sign was a National Treasure! Alas! It is not! (I feel a Facebook campaign coming on .... perhaps there is already one out there for me to sign?)

Anyway, i had to seconde the bus driver to take some happy snaps as proof of my presence at JOG and then he was kind enough to give me a lift back to the Hostel for free! I had a big bowl of soup for tea and was pleasantly suprised to learn i was sleeping solo in my dorm for 4 so I have settled in for an early night with my electrical appliances all on charge, after rearranging the contents of my pack 3 times!

Looking forwards to tomorrow with anticipation and energy and hope i feel the same in 24 hours! WATCH THIS SPACE....

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