John O'Groats: top of Scotland

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At John O’Groats Scotland

From the Diary – May 31 – Saturday: Inverness – Thurso – John O’Groats
I was staying overnight at the Inverness Youth Hostel. Phew! What a pong in the room. All these walkers, baked bean eaters, snorers, and no windows to let the air in. I found it difficult to sleep after 3.00 am. Got up at 6.00 am. Breakfast, closed my pack and walked down to the bus station to get the bus to Thurso.

I was off to the island’s most northerly point – John O’Groats. In the bus enjoying the changing landscape; lush light green fields become heather clad hills. On the right is the North Sea, liberally sprinkled with oil drilling platforms. Surprisingly, not much rain today.
Arrive at Thurso, and I am hungry. Just enough time to visit the amenities before boarding the connecting bus to John O’Groats.  Straight to the John O’Groats Hotel for lunch and coffee. Lovely old hotel. Faded photographs add to the ambience.
Outside is a landmark sign showing the distances and directions to other places of interest. I take a photo of Paul who runs the little business. I walk down to the shoreline and reach down to touch this northern water – there, done that. I can see the Orkney Islands across the narrow channel shrouded in mist.
Back at Paul’s photo booth, two cyclists who have just arrived from Land’s End (the most southerly point of England) after eight days are having their picture taken with a bottle of champagne.
The Last House Souvenir Shop is a fascinating place and I stock up on postcards. A popular tourist postcard that you can send to friends shows a heavy curtain of drenching rain that begins at the Scottish border, and a sodden mountain bull peering out of it towards England – shown in pleasant sunlight. The card’s caption is – “Welcome to a Scottish Summer”.
I buy some baked beans from the adjoining general store and get ready for the 4 mile (6 km) walk to the Thurso youth hostel. Lots of shaggy sheep munching on the grass in the fields. Some of the sheep are moulting.
The wind picks up and there’s an invigorating salt tang in the air – lovely. Surprisingly, I cover the distance in under an hour, occasionally glimpsing the sea and arrive at the youth hostel. The rain has held off nicely. I wait in the cold until the hostel opens at 5.00 pm and then get warm.
.When was your last trip to John O’Groats?
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