Planned kilometres: 35 (cummulative 1576)
Kilometres walked: 35 (cummulative 1642)
% Completed: 90.5%
Pubs visited: The Commercial Hotel
Pints: 2 (cummulative 200)
Kms per pint: 8.2
Blisters: 0 (cummulative 4)
Inverness to Alness
Today marks the start of the trek to John O’Groats and there are two options to complete it. There is a newly created John O’Groats trail which a couple of people I talked to who had recently done it said to avoid it as it is very overgrown, slow, not well signposted and maps are required. The other option which is the quickest, but not the most scenic is to follow the A9 and minor B roads. I have decided to follow the roads and use alternate paths where I can find them.
As I was heading out of Inverness today, I clicked over 1609.3 kms which equates to 1,000 miles. So now I have done the proclaimers lyrics below:
- I would walk five hundred miles
- And I would walk five hundred more
- Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
- To fall down at your door
Okay – I have not completed the last line excatly, but I have fallen down a couple of times, so close enough.
The first part of the trip is on the A9 across the Kessock bridge which gave great views back over Inverness.
This part of the A9 has a footpath and later a cycle path to follow, so the walking is very easy. When the separate cycle path finished, I transferred to a minor road that rain alongside the A9 and had very limited traffic. Once I got to Tore, it was time to start walking on the A9 proper and this is where I came across the first road sign showing John O’Groats.
The A9 had no footpaths from here on so it was a matter of walking on the grass verge on the side of the road. The only advantage of big trucks flying past was that they supplied a nice breeze.
My target was to cross the Cromarty bridge over the firth and then have lunch.
Once I crossed the bridge there weren’t any great places to stop as there was a Tern breeding ground at the bridge exit. As I didn’t need to get another good luck present from a Tern or Seagull flying overhead, I walked on until I came across a parking bay and decided to stop there as I could sit on the wall and there was a rubbish bin. Just as I had settled in and started eating lunch a fully loaded cattle truck pulled in and stopped right in front of me. As you can imagine a truck full of cows and the associated smell didn’t do much for my lunch spot, so I quickly grabbed my gear and moved on.
The Cromarty Firth is used to hold old Oil Rigs until they are sent to scrapyards and due to reduction in demand for North Sea oil, it is known as something of an oil Rig graveyard. I was a fair way off the firth and could still see quite a few in the distance.
I arrived in Alness early afternoon and the B&B I was booked into didn’t look great when I checked in. There was a sign on the door to go to the house at the back to check in and this property had junk all over the yard, so I didn’t hold high hopes. The room was okay, but as this was the cheapest room I have had all trip, it looks like I got what I paid for