Walking Scotlands Coast

DAY 42 – DUNCANSBY HEAD TO GILL’S BAY

DAY 42

FRIDAY 1ST OCTOBER, 2010

DUNCANSBY HEAD TO GILLS BAY – 6.0 MILES 3 HOURS

MORRIS, GEORGE, BILL, ALEX, COLIN, DEREK, JAMES AND JOHN

TOTAL DISTANCE WALKED SO FAR 644 MILES

On this four day trip we started our walk along the north coast from Duncansby Head. We had use of a minibus and George, Bill and I were again joined by Alex, Derek and Colin. James and John also joined us for their first taste of coast walking. The long drive north took six and a half hours and we were underway from Duncansby Head at 1245. The forecast was not good and we set off walking in very blustery conditions making our way from the lighthouse down to the Bay of Sannick where our arrival disturbed a very large pod of seals. They quickly scrambled into the sea and then inquisitively shadowed us on our walk along the beach. Walking west on the rocks round the point we came upon a small shell beach where we found some ‘Groatie Buckies’. We continued on the beach round the Ness of Duncansby passed the caravan site to the harbour at John O’Groats. At the harbour we viewed the sad sight of the abandoned and dilapidated John O’Groats House hotel (built circa 1875) which must have been a grand building at the end of the 19th century. From the hotel our route alternated between difficult stoney beaches and grass bankings. Approximately half a mile west of John O’Groats a deep and fast running lade runs from an abandoned mill to the sea. Some of our group chose to walk inland and cross at the mill while some took on the challenge of scrambling across rocks nearer the sea. Unfortunately the weather had deteriorated and we were having to contend with heavy rain and high winds. We walked on to the Ness of Huna passed the ruin of the Huna hotel (apparently built in 1878) and the old harbour and life boat station where the slipway is still evident. Apparently a ferry used to sail between Huna and Stroma. The wind and rain had become relentless and progress was becoming increasingly difficult and unpleasant as we passed Ness of Quoys and we decided to abandon the rest of the days walk at Gills Bay. A very wet and wind battered team arrived at the Castletown Hotel our base for this trip where we none the less we enjoyed a refreshing pint.

Summary; Our limited walking time was curtailed even more by the horrendous weather. Underfoot conditions were varied but not unduly difficult.

Highs; The seals and finding some ‘groaties’.

Lows; Not completing our days walk due to the weather . The sad state of the abandoned hotel at John O’Groats.

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DAY 42 ROUTE MAP

DAY 42 ROUTE MAP