LEJOG65: Lybster to Watten

Only two days left, including today. I knew it was an important point in the journey because my mum had come up to join me and now I was going to be walking with the two people who had supported and helped me all along the way. Luckily the weather was predicted to be glorious which I felt they deserved in the circumstance. It’s been hard enough for them already, it would be even worse if try had to walk alongside me in the pissing rain and howling wind.

We packed up Base Camp early so once my mum got to our campsite we could set off. However, once there We had an early disaster. The campsite we hoped to stay at that night, and had got my mum to book at B&B close by to especially, was fully booked for the next couple days. All the other campsites were either too close to John O Groats, making the last couple of days seem pointless, or too far away from the B&B, making things logistically tricky. Mum had a brain wave and called her B&B to find that they had a field we could use, which wasn’t ideal as we wouldn’t have a full range of facilities but better than staying in Brora.

 When we got back to Lybster the weather was so lovely we decided to stop for a coffee. We found a lovely little heritage centre down by the old harbour run by a fiesty Yorkshire woman who’d moved up three years ago with her Scottish husband. Her and Jenna discussed the merits of the different markets in the Skipton area while she prepared our drinks. I tried hard not to roll my eyes and smirk.

We set off at 11 and were soon on the minor country road heading inland that was to be our path for the day. It was about 12 miles of practically straight Tarmac with rough fields an scrubby moorland on either side, punctuated by houses every 500 meters or so. In the sun and heat it almost felt like we were crossing Australia, such was the sense of almost desert-like conditions with agriculture hanging on by its finger tips to the inhospitable landscape.

Around lunch time it started to get a little more fertile-looking with plantations appearing on either side. We stopped by a renovated set of iron age burial mounds that you could actually crawl into (claustrophobia not withstanding) to get to a central chamber inside. The information sign by the road said that when these people had been here the climate was more hospitable and the land more fertile than today. It seemed odd to think of the north of Scotland being like the south of England, and that climate an lansdcape can change naturaly so (relatively) rapidly.

We resumed our course after the day’s third application of sunscreen. I could already feel the tell tale burning sensation on some of my exposed flesh and didn’t want my final day tomorrow being ruined by a sore neck. We were also constantly applying insect repellent as we were being bother by flies brought out of hiding in the plantations by the tastinest of our flesh.

As we continued into the afternoon the team were wilting in the heat. I felt fine if not a little greasy from all the creams and sprays I’d been covering myself in all day. The landscape got a bit greener at Watten, and we settled down in the pub to watch the final set of the Wimbledon mens final. As you may already know, this mean that we were there for over an hour and a half as Roddick and Federer eeked every last drop of energy out of their tired bodies before eventually Federer broke through to become ‘the greatest tennis player ever’.

Although I think we’d all been rooting for Federer, the sight of Roddick’s emotionally exhausted face made everyone feel quite sympathetic for him. However, we did a bit of our own record breaking, making our way through four packs of scampy fries and three packs of pork scratching. After a day sweating and walking our bodies were obviously craving salt and fat and wouldn’t stop eating until they’d been topped right back up again.

By the time we left, picked up the cars and got to the B&B it was quite late, however one lat surprise was in store for us. The B&B was situated west of John o Groats just by Dunnet Head which is the most northerly part of the UK (john o groats is the most north-easterly point). The field we had been worrying about at the beginning of the day was practically on a cliff edge overlooking the sea with an amazing view which included Dunnet Head, huge grass topped stacks, seals lounging on the beach and the Orkneys in the back ground. The sun was setting, the sky was blue and the sea was silver. It was amazing, and we watched it change and the sky become a burnt pink while we made and ate our cheese and chorizo omlettes. However, as the sun retreated so to did the insects advance, and soon we had to make our way inside of our different modes of accomodation feeling like we really had made it to the end of the world. Sent from my iPhone

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