Another day in the office, but today the roof was leaking. Consequently I geared up for wet weather at the cottage, and left Wick at 8.10.
The path to North Head introduced me to the lower cliffs and less dramatic scenery I could expect for the day. Once round the point, roads led to the village of Staxigoe. I was intrigued to find that in the 19th century, this was home to the largest herring-curing plant in Europe. Little remains of its industrial past today.
More cliff walking led to the lighthouse at Noss Head, and an abrupt change from walking north to almost due west. This change coincided with someone adding a fan to the leaking roof; naturally the wind was from the west.
Castle Sinclair Girnigoe
Just round the headland is Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, the first of several ruined castles. This one was used by Cromwell’s army, but fell into disrepair soon after. The next village was Ackergillshore, and a brief encounter ensued with some of my bovine friends. Ackergill Tower is a magnificent house, just before the sandy beach of Sinclair’s Bay.
After a brief stop I raced the tide along the 5k of beach. I won – thus avoiding being forced off the sand onto either the boulders higher on the beach, or the sand dunes.
Half way along, I had to cross the River of Wester. The guide said this could be waded, but gave alternatives; and the map indicated that it was a dangerous river crossing. In the end it was a total non-event, barely calf-deep.
Beyond the river, there is a curious railway track which runs into the sea. The track is 7km long: sections of pipe are assembled and then towed out to sea to be joined together underwater. No activity was happening on the beach, but later driving to the cottage we saw the lengths of pipe on the railway.
I reached Keiss at 12.25, and was now only 3k from the finish for the day. This was somewhat of a problem, as I had given Alan an e.t.a. of 4.00. I emailed him explaining I would be finishing by 2.00. He got the email, but did not pick it up until 2.35.
After an extended lunch, I sauntered on. Old Keiss Castle is a fine ruin, with the New Castle only 200m away. The defensive positions, where these coastal castles were built, are very impressive – they look impregnable.
Despite my best efforts, the car park at Nybster kept getting closer, and I arrived at 1.50. After a second lunch break, I walked up to the Caithness Broch Museum for a look around, and soon after 3.15 Alan arrived to pick me up.
Tomorrow I will reach John O’Groats.