Sunday, 20 November 2011

The road to John o Groats

Hi all,
After my last post which took us on a leisurely circular tour, today we are going to make a start on a long day out. We will be driving the 78 miles up the A9 to John o Groats. Then across the north coast through Thurso to Portskerra where we will turn south again and follow one of the remotest A roads in the country (the A897)back to Helmsdale on the East coast. ) All in all it is a round trip of about 180 miles, which is a lot in one day considering we will be visiting a few places along the way. We were a few years younger when we did this trip and it is hard to believe that we could cram so much in one day when now I get tired just walking to the kitchen. Ah well, nice to have the memories.

We started the day by picking up the A9 at Loch Fleet and then turning north along a nice stretch of road that hugs the coast for much of the way to John o Groats. We soon fond ourselves going through the small village of Brora where a stone monument at the side of the road marks the spot where the last wild wolf in Sutherland was killed in 1700. The man who carried out the deed was a hunter called Polson; I bet he didn't know that his name would go down in history.

Writing about the last wolf in Scotland reminded me of something funny I overheard the previous week.
The first woman asked "Are there any wild bears in England?"
"I don't know replied," her friend, "there are probably some in Scotland."
At the time of hearing this conversation I was concerned about some people's ignorance; how could their general knowledge be so poor. Perhaps it's all down to priorities and remebering what you thing is interesting or important. I bet they could name everybody who is currently starring in 'I'm a Celebrity Get me Out of Here,' where I certainly couldn't.

Ten miles later we came to Helmsdale and stopped to stretch our legs and have a cup of tea before carrying on with our epic journey. It wasn't long after leaving Helmsdale and it's lovely harbour that we came to a visitor's centre for Caithness Glass. The building was impressive so we decided to take a look and had a unique experience. Visitors stand along a gallery looking down upon a factory of workers who are all busy making glass products. Watching them melt the glass, blowing it and shaping it into bowls and vases was brilliant and time well spent. There were lots of colourful items of glassware on sale in the shop but we didn't buy any. Glass can be pretty, but like its touch, it leaves me cold.

Onwards and upwards, we arrived in Wick where we visited a supermarket to get some provisions for the picnic we would be having later and visited the busy harbour. That's me in the picture below enjoying a peaceful moment with my pipe.
We are now about half way to John o Groats and this is perhaps a good place to leave this post for now; I will continue it in a few days time.

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