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!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010



Great nights sleep, wonderful home made breakfast of porridge in the hostel kitchen and someone to take my pack on to base camp (thank you so much Shirley and Claire (!) ...... oh, and the sun was shining as i set off bright and early at 8.15am!!

Things certainly started off well and for the first mile and a half out of Helmsdale, all was looking good......

And then the pavement ran out!! And i was left on the A9 at the complete mercy of the motorists who were coming thick and fast!

And if there had been a reasonable hard shoulder or grass verge, then i think i could have remained reasonably safe ..... however the verge disappered in places and at times i was literally ON the main road with no where to go facing blind hairpin bends with articulated lorries and coaches going in opposite directions and everyone needing maximum space on the road and therefore absoutely no place for little me!!

It took about 2 hours of experiencing this menacing dilema before i made the decision that this road walking was really unsustainable! The dangers are immense and it would only take one stray driver not concentrating for a split second for it to mean i may not make it home in one piece....

Without making it all sound overly dramatic & morbid, there really were several times today when i honestly thought i was mince meat! And on that basis i have had to review my decision on my 'little walk in the country' and work out how i can continue in a safe way but still reach my home!

The options seem to me to be the following

  1. Carry on existing route - I have decided this is too dangerous

  2. Go home now! - this would be such a shame as i have everything booked and i am sure there is a better option!
  3. Re-route - possible option but i still have all the accommodation booked and would therefore need to get to each nights stop by a different & less direct walk and so i think the additional mileage would make this option prohibitive

  4. Travel to each destination by public transport and once checked in, walk from the B & B and do a scenic circular 'walk in the country' and that way i can decide on my mileage each day and still see a good deal of the local countryside (& possibly even more!) as it wont involve just seeing the main road!

I have therefore chosen option 4 and i will endeavour to cover as much mileage as possible at each place to equate to my previous planned distances getting from place to place....

It has been a hard decision to reach today and maybe not all the roads would have been this treacherous to walk along but planning this all in the safety of my office in St Albans, it was very difficult to visualise or know these things...

I am sorry if this is a disappointment to anyone reading and following my Blog. I have made this decision for my own safety and because i do have a number of friends joining me and i need to be responsible for their safety also. I hope that my deviation of plans will allow me to continue enjoying my journey and allow me to meet as many wonderful people as i have so far come across!

Returning back to today, i did still keep up my mileage of the day and covered off nearly 18 miles as per the schedule. Halfway through the day, my blisters really came back with a vengance and it wasnt until i rocked up to my beautiful B & B and peeled off my socks that i discovered my feet covered in lots of blood blisters and fluid filled pockets under all my previously dressed plastered blisters! (Sorry for the details and graphics but i wanted to share my miserable feet!)

I relaxed in a hot bath for 1/2 hour contemplating my day & my decisions before limping up to the Pharmacy and asking for some over the counter remedies .... i now have some lovely yellow iodine spray to ensure no infections follow on and another box of plasters to save my socks from the bin!

The B & B i am in this evening is Blar Mhor and it has such welcoming Rhodedendrons at the front, that it was quite spectacular looking at the entrance from the road.

I will probably look at getting my first bus after breakfast in the morning and get to Tain and decide on a plan of action depending wholly on the state of my feet and toes! I am most disappointed that my naive invincible bravado presumed i would walk this with ease! Whist the rest of my body does so far seem to be holding up, i had never anticipated the blisters situation or the road dilemma. Still, it all happens for a reason and i would much rather be here to write about another day and change the plasters than not! 70 miles covered in 4 days isnt bad for a beginner ... lets see what day 5 brings!


  1. Try not to be to hard on yourself because whats important is whats right for you regardless how you get to your destination. Here on will still be a journey of discovery and i wish you the best of luck.

  2. Thank you Ramblerman for those supportive words! It sounds like you are speaking from experience, something which i am gaining by the bootful right now! i appreciate your feedback...