We had planned to make the trek from Inverness to the very top of Scotland. I wanted to see Thurso. I am not sure why, it just rang a bell with me. It was not planned with any of the family history tour in mind but with being as far north as you can go in the mainland and that seemed good enough for me.
Also, It’s not that far. Not for Australians who really know long distance driving. It looks like about 175 km so that must mean under 2 hours right.
Ahhh slow down.
Rome2Rio, my favourite travel planning site suggests it is 2 hours and 21 minutes and they are generous. There and back is a full day of driving.
It was a brilliant day. Part way into the trip we saw oil rigs just off shore. I thought they were being built just off shore but perhaps they are in production. They look amazing in the bay like massive spiders sucking the blood from some long dead prey below.
Thurso was interesting enough but it was not the surprise and delight I was looking for. The most amazing was John O’Groats.
A delight of this trip has been how old, long stored memories get triggered and flow back to mind. This was the case with John O’Groats. Suddenly I remembered my dad training for the long distance walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End.
In the 1960s Billy Butlin, who ran holiday camps all across the UK, wanted to organise a charity walk the length of the country. The walk did take place a number of times I believe and raised money for charity. Dad was to be a part of it. He began the training I remember but was taken ill with leg problems before he could start.
When I look at it now I wonder what was going to happen to us for the 3 months it would take for the walk. Not all the memories come flooding back but this much did as we drove into the calm quiet peaceful settlement on a bright sunny day.
Today there is a John O’Groats to Land’s End society who will issue a certificate to anyone who can prove completion of the trip.
Today it is considered a right of passage for any long distance cyclist. It has been attempted on public transport and by car.
One group did complete it as close as possible to a straight line which meant hundreds of miles canoeing across the Irish Sea.
From looking about I am pretty sure that sunny, calm days like today are few. There is a massive sea retaining wall with notices to stay clear in storms since waves will break over the wall. It is 6 meters high. The ship docked there for the trip to the Orkneys looks like a tough old prize fighter. No wuss to be messed with here. This boat will take a massive beating, and I think it does.
Today was just perfect. Like the main aim of this trip it brought back a delightful old memory. John O’Groats was a beautiful, perfect place to visit but I am sure it is not always like that.