Walk Day 111 – Keiss to John O’Groats

Friday 12th October 2018

9.04 miles today. 1184.14 miles total.

In the hotel last night I met Carol and Nick, last seen in Dunbeath. They had been walking the John O’Groats Trail, and we had walked some of the same route. We spent some time catching up and sharing walking stories and tips.

They were going home so we said goodbye after breakfast and I set out into the rain and wind for my last day of LEJOG.

The rain stopped but the wind was very strong and made walking ‘difficult’. (British understatement)

I managed to avoid being blown under the wheels of approaching vehicles, and to enjoy the scenery, when I could see it.

This herd was lined up waiting for the farmer (behind me) to drop the straw bale over the gate for it.

The sea was being blown into choppy waves.

The weather for most of the morning was overcast and raining, with very strong southerly winds gusting to 70mph. I was glad to turn north and have the wind behind me.

In a break between showers, finally, on my last day, I found a long horned cow to photograph!

Eventually the worst of the rain passed and the sun shone for a short time.

The signpost said 3 miles. It was a bit further to my destination.

The wind died down to ‘strong breeze’, which was quite enjoyable, and the rain had passed over, so with clear views I stopped here to record a Facebook live video to test the technology for later.

This was the scene with about three miles to go to the end. I turned on the Google location tracker so that my family could see my progress.

The road still showed the aftermath of the rain.

This was my first sight of my destination.

The multi-coloured huts were my target. Finally I could see them.

This was the first of the John O’Groats signs. It’s about a mile from here to the famous fingerpost.

I passed the Seaview Hotel with its invitation to join the LEJOG Association. But I still hadn’t arrived at the end of my journey.

Then, looking across to the brightly coloured huts, through the car park, I thought I could see the finger post.

Despite wearing a rucksack and a waist pack I had looked forward to running to the finish, and the adrenaline kicked in.

Not only did I run, holding my walking poles in one hand and my phone in the other hand, but I even managed to record it as another live video. Go me!

I’d been a bit uncertain about how it would feel to finish such a big adventure and not have anyone there to share it with. Then just as I crossed the car park entrance a voice called my name. It was Freda, the mother of another Fetchie. She had come to meet me at the finish, and it was lovely to see her.

I found it very emotional to finally reach the finger post. It symbolised the end of an adventure, a journey, and a time of separation from ordinary life. The walk had been a dream and a plan, and I didn’t know when I started whether I could or would finish.

And here I was; slightly astonished to have succeeded, and very thankful to all the people whose kindness and generosity made the journey easier, and helped my soul to sing.

Thank you Freda for taking the photograph.

The harbour looked really calm, in contrast to the waves further out.

Freda and I went into the cafe for a hot chocolate. While we were inside another rain shower came and went.

A final picture before leaving. The wind speed had increased again and was doing its best to remove my hat.

There is more to say, but for tonight I’m resting before a long journey home.

If you would like to contribute to the work of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, the link is here.

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12 thoughts on “Walk Day 111 – Keiss to John O’Groats

  1. As a fellow completer I have been following you. Well done and congratulations. I was not as emotional as I was finishing the Pennine Way many years earlier which was my first real backpacking experience. With the LEJOG I just said to myself “that’s a job well done,”

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  2. Gongratulations Helen. Well done for keeping on going through thick and thin. Have enjoyed reading the blog and looking forward to reading your final thoughts. Cheers, Dave & Dot.

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  3. Fantastic achievement, well done. I thought we might meet earlier in the year as I made my own way up the UK but it wasn’t to be. Now you can put your feet up!
    Best wishes,
    Jools- threepointsofthecompass

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