Today lived up to its billing as the toughest section of the John O’Groats Trail not helped by fog and light rain.
I left the hostel at 7.50, and walked down to the harbour and then along a beach path before the real work of the day began.
I started to climb up onto the ridge in gorse, heather and bracken following bearings as the path was very intermittent. This set the the scene for the rest of the day. It started to rain when I arrived at an old lookout station, and I took advantage of being able to don wet weather gear in the dry.
I crossed the Ord Burn and the Ord of Caithness, and disturbed a herd of deer.
After flogging across some heather moor, following the Allt a Bhurg Burn, I passed another broch and arrived above the Ousdale Burn.
Nothing in the guidebook suggested a descent to the Burn being the equivalent of going down the North Face of the Eiger. The top set of wooden steps I descended facing inwards, as they were so steep.
I stopped at Badbea, a crofting community for victims of the clearances. I am sure it made sense to someone to move farmers, who were being encouraged to go herring fishing, to a village on a steep slope above cliffs 130m above the sea. Unsurprisingly the village was quickly abandoned.
From Badbea there was more lush vegetation before I came down to Berriedale where I arrived at 1.00 with another 6.5 miles to go. I had been getting very low on energy, so stopped for lunch and warned Alan that I would be late at our rendezvous.
In all honesty I was probably too tired to appreciate the magnificent scenery on this section of the trail. The walk out of Berriedale seemed endless with difficult vegetation and no clear path. The waterfall at Allt Na Buaidhe was non-existent and the path further on difficult to find.
The weather was not helping bringing fog and poor visibility, thus explaining the lack of photos. The sea arch at An Dun was spectacular as was the sea stack called The Clett.
A few miles before Dunbeath I followed the trail away from the sea, through a herd of cows, to the old A9 and Dunbeath. I met Alan at the Post Office at 4.15.
All in all a hard day in the office. With hindsight I think I mainly brought it on myself. I only had a small pot of porridge for breakfast, and had not got enough food with me. Tomorrow I have farther to walk, but will only have a light daysack, and that’s going to be loaded with lots of food!