Dunbeath to Wick – 20.5 miles (1,061.8 total)
Today was one that preyed on the back of my mind from the beginning. Yes, it was the second last scheduled day, which should have been a reason for relaxation, but, it was a long walk to programme in near the end. The logistics dictated that it had to be done so I hoped that my fitness would carry me through.
Pete was staying at a different B&B from me. We met at 9am for a sensible start. For once there was a dampness in the air. It wasn’t quite rain, it was low cloud/mist. Although it wasn’t annoying enough to require me to put on my jacket, it did leave everything covered in a film of wetness. The major problem with this was that all the vegetation was correspondingly wet. My route today was main road, the A9 then the A99, so constantly having to avoid traffic meant jumping on to the grass verge then back to the road and so on, all walk long. With the verge being so wet, I was soaking virtually from the start. The bottom of my walking trousers got wet, my boots got wet and, much more importantly, my socks got wet. For the first time on my walk I was walking in wet socks for the whole day. Of course, it would happen on a long day.
Pete’s walking boots were hurting him so he decided to walk in ordinary shoes only as far as Lybster. Because of the low cloud we had no views for the first hour or so. At Latheron the A9 turns and goes to Thurso. From there until John o’Groats my route was the A99. After 6.5 miles we reached Lybster and by then the cloud had lifted. I left Pete at Quatre Bras (no mistake, that’s its name), and continued alone for the rest of the day.
The road stayed quite close to the coast as I passed through Overton, Mid Clyth, Ulbster then Thrumster. The landscape didn’t vary much as I tramped the miles, jumping from verge to road and back again. The grass dried up by around midday, as did my trousers… but, sadly, not my socks! Trees were few and far between, as I had expected, which offered no variety to the surroundings of houses and fields. As the weather cleared up I had good views out to sea, making me aware of the many oil and gas platforms located offshore.
I was walking at a comfortable pace of over 3 miles an hour so managed to reach Wick before 3.30pm. Pete was already in town and Eddie, after his long drive from home, made contact as well. We met up for something to eat and drink before them both joining me tomorrow for my final leg, Day 69 of 69. We walk from Wick to John o’Groats. I can’t believe I’ve nearly finished my walk. Where have the last 68 days gone?