Thursday, 25 August 2016

John O'Groats

Towards the end of July, I spent a week staying on the mainland of Orkney.  It's a truly magical place, that will be the subject of the next few blog posts.  But first, something from the journey there.  Over the last few years I have explored quite a bit of Scotland.  I have certainly been as far as the North Coast before.  But the journey to Orkney lasted 2 days.  Day 1 took me as far as Inverness.  Thanks to hellish traffic, by the time I arrived, all I wanted was a meal and a pint.  Photography could wait for another day.  Day 2 was easier.  The ferry left from Gills Bay, a few minutes drive along the coast from John O'Groats.  My ferry wasn't until 4pm, leaving plenty of time to bimble around.

It's easy to find John O'Groats.  Just follow the steady stream of earnest, exhausted, cyclists, weighed down by panniers and charity sponsorship, who are slowly struggling their way there.  As you drive, you will pass other cyclists, with eager faces, fresh legs and tyres, heading the other way.  And why?  Because John O'Groats has become famous by pretending to be the most northerly point on mainland Britain. In truth that is Dunnet Head, a short drive past Gills Bay (or a camel crippling straw's length, if you are cycling).  John O'Groats, more accurately, has the most northerly cafés in mainland Britain.  But not much else.  There was a sign, scene of many a selfie.  An interesting stretch of coastline, ignored by the cyclists and less masochistic visitors, busily taking selfies with the sign.  An art installation.  A small harbour and a large car-park (for the less masochistic visitors).  And the cafés, of course, which were rather good.


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