Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Orkney Field Trip

After Graham arrived at John O'Groats from 1150 mile walk he sat down and had a lovely rest...NOT!
So as not to get too complacent we got into Dickie and headed over to Orkney via the Gills Bay ferry to St Margaret's Hope.
The crossing was about £80 for two people and a 6M motorhome. Hugo the dog was free. 
It's a great place for anyone with an interest in archaeology. Our first stop was on the southern tip of the Eastern mainland at The Tomb of the Eagles. There we found both Neolithic and Bronze Age burial sites. 
We found a lovely place to stop for the night on the side of the road not far from there and had lovely views across to the mainland.
The next day was spent touring the Italian Chapel, the Ring of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, and Skara Brae.
We booked into see Maeshowe burial chamber on Monday as you can only see it with a tour guide and we headed off for a drive around the western island to see where we'd end up. We found the Brochure of Gurness and stayed the night there by the beach.
We loved Stenness so much we went back the next day and saw the Barnhouse just 200 m away from it which we'd missed the day before.
Maeshowe was interesting but no photos were allowed. It has some fabulous Viking rune graffiti on its interior walls. It looks a bit like Silbury Hill from the outside.
We caught the evening ferry back and unfortunately a truck reversed into our driver side wing mirror as it was getting onto the ferry. The ferry company was very good and accepted responsibility and will pay for the damage...we hope.
If you are interested in archaeology do go to Orkney - it's very easy to get around and there are lovely places to free camp or other campsites close to towns and beaches.

Friday, 10 June 2016

A Gift at the End of the Road

I drove into John o'Groats feeling very proud of myself for having driven such a long way from Cornwall. The road was pretty straight and pretty quiet which made life easier.
Walking around feeling very pleased with myself, I noticed a group of people arriving in a couple of painted up 4 X 4s. I asked them what they were doing and they had just driven all the way from Bangalore in India. They have been trying to raise awareness of organ donation and their trip is being filmed.
Their trip took them from southern India, across China, Kyrgystan, Russia, parts of Scandinavia, then through Europe to John o'Groats. It certainly makes my trip from Cornwall seem rather a paltry affair. 
I spoke to one of the girls who said they had had no trouble on the trip apart from the odd official looking at their papers rather closely. The people they have met along the way have made it a very special trip, she said.
You can check out their Facebook page 'Gift of Life Adventure' if you want to know more. 
I put Radio 4 on when I arrived at our campsite and there was a programme on about a boy called Martin whose parents had donated his heart after he died. These parents had then met the recipient of his heart. A very touching story and quite timely considering the group I had just met.

Graham will be here tomorrow to end his walk from Land's End.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Carrying on to the Cairns of Camster

One more day before Graham arrives at John O'Groats. I've mastered the art of driving up incredibly thin Scottish roads with passing places to allow oncoming traffic to go past. At first I was terrified as, of course, a giant truck appeared behind me going much to fast for the conditions and gave me 8 miles of high blood pressure until I arrived at my destination.
The place we chose to wild camp for the night was the parking area at the Cairns of Camster, two 5,000 year old burial chambers. It's about 30 miles from John O'Groats and extremely interesting. Bodies were found sitting upright in the entrance way and cremated bodies within the central chamber.  
The cairns have been very well preserved and the sheep were loving it. We even found a couple of lamb's tails that had been disconnected from their bodies. 
You have to crawl in to get into the internal chambers so it's not for the large of buttock. I only managed to get into one with a wider entrance. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Getting Closer to John O'Groats

It was great to finally meet up with Graham at Inverness. We met at Torvean campsite which was directly on the Caledonian Canal so he didn't have to take a detour.

I am finally enjoying the driving. The curliness of the roads has calmed down a bit and I'm feeling more confident.

We've mainly been staying at campsites which is unusual for us but it gives Graham a specific target for the day and I feel more comfortable with other people around. Having said that I am currently parked at the car park for Badbea, an historic clearance village, near Berridale in Caithness. We'll wild camp here tonight. People were moved to this cliff side village in the late 18th/early 19th centuries to make way for sheep in the glens. Although it is stunningly beautiful it must have been a terribly hard life on these windswept cliffs.

The beaches are stunning along this coastline and it's getting a bit more hilly as we get closer to John O'Groats. It is a nesting area for Arctic Terns and I even found a dead puffin on the beach in Brora. Golf clubs are everywhere up here and they are extremely busy. Everyone is making the most of the fabulous weather we're having. 

It's only 45 miles to John O'Groats now so Graham hopes to finish in about a week. He's done so well and looks extremely fit. He only has the odd callous on his feet and a pair of aching shoulders. Since I've arrived he can carry less in his pack and, at the moment, he is able to stay overnight in Dickie every day instead of camping out. I think he's secretly missing his early nights in the middle of nowhere but he's also loving the luxury of a warm shower and a duvet.

We've decided that once he's finished the walk I will drive around a few distilleries so he can do a few tasters.