Wednesday 17th October 2018
111 days of walking. 1184.14 miles walked.
In an earlier blog I noted that
I inhabit an internet world where
extreme achievements are normalised
by some amazing people.
Many of those people record their activity at Fetcheveryone.com, and have been really positive supporters of this challenge. They understand what it means to push boundaries, and have been the people I turned to when I had problems that required knowledge and encouragement, and some have also provided practical help (Walk Day 63 is the most obvious example). They shared many more of the problems than originally appeared in this blog, and they also understood my caveat to any question that “Quitting is not an option.” It was therefore delightful to find that Fetch (Ian) had created a personalised congratulatory banner for the site when I finished. Thank you all 🙂
There was a warm glow as I read all the comments and congratulations, and I slept well on Friday night.
First thing on Saturday morning I went down to the Seaview Hotel to sign the visitor’s book and collect an ‘arrived in John O’Groats’ certificate. There was a similar ‘overcast and uninhabited’ end-of-season anti-climax feel to the place as I’d discovered at Land’s End last year when I started, but my reward was in knowing I’d achieved my objective. I’d finished what I came for and chose not to walk the additional distance to Duncansby Head or to find somewhere to dip my feet into the sea.
Freda and her husband Ronnie were kind enough to collect me from John O’Groats and drive me to Wick so that I could catch the bus through to Inverness. Thank you both. During the two hours sitting still on the bus my legs went to sleep so that I hobbled off the bus. It didn’t look very heroic!
I’d booked a room at the Black Isle Hostel before they opened their new rooms in a separate building above the Black Isle Bar. I occupied one of the new rooms… I had been unaware, when I booked, that the Bar was a popular nightspot, or that the window of my room would open onto the same level of decking as the rooftop bar – open until 1am. On this occasion the industrial extractor fan and noise of people enjoying themselves wasn’t a problem because I knew there was no need to get good sleep in order to be able to walk the next day. It meant I could sleepily enjoy the buzz.
Having promised myself a decent scotch once I finished the walk, I went down to the Bar to see what they had to offer. Their range of beers was so impressive that I chose a wheat beer instead, and really enjoyed it.
The rain made my exploration of the town centre a bit gloomy, and I was suddenly and unexpectedly tired, so retired to my room to watch Strictly Come Dancing on my phone. It’s the first time I’ve used it to stream a television programme and it felt quite decadent after saving all my data for essential use on the journey up to that point. What would we do without our mobiles?
On Sunday morning I attended Choral Eucharist at the cathedral.
After that I explored around the river,
noting the Great Glen Way signs relating to a walk that suddenly seemed such a long time ago. The castle is the starting/finishing point of the Great Glen Way.
All the local tourist attractions were closed for the weekend, so coffee and chocolate cake at a cafe were then followed by a trip around the shopping centre. This is the Unicorn and Falcon statue in Falcon Square.
Outside one of the shops I saw a slogan that made me giggle.
Then, another treat. I met another ‘stranger from the internet,’ (Fetchie) Laurie, who lives in the area, and we went for a coffee and a chat before she gave me a lift to the airport. Thank you Laurie.
There were some items that I knew I couldn’t take on the plane, so I donated the MSR gas bottles to the ‘Help Your-shelf’ at the hostel and handed in my spare food to the cathedral for their food parcels. By the time my rucksack had been wrapped in clingfilm at the airport it only weighed 6kg.
Luton Airport was wetter than Inverness, and we finally arrived home just after midnight on Monday morning.
There was no lie-in on Monday because I had to prepare for a talk at the Rotary Club on Monday night, and my laptop had three weeks of updates to install, with associated interruptions in operation. Eventually everything worked and I had an enjoyable evening. The Rotary Club made a donation to the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. Thank you gentlemen.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was finally an opportunity to catch up with the family, drink the champagne that had been in the refrigerator for months, and to feel that I had finally come home.
I’ll blog my reflections, and update some of the static pages with learning along the way, but for now, thank you for reading, thank you for your comments, and good luck with any adventures that are currently stirring your hearts.