|Day 71 – June 22||Dunbeath to Watten|
|Weather: Fog then sun||B&B: Loch Watten B&B (£30)|
|Departed: 8:45 Arrived: 15:30||Walked: 6h 02m Rested: 0 hr 35m|
|Distance Today: 20.6 mi / 33.15 km||Total Distance: 1154.2 mi / 1857.50 km|
|% Complete: ~ 98.57%||Pint of the Day: John Smith’s Best Bitter|
|GPS Track for: Day 71|
Yesterday was the summer solstice and in northern Scotland that means there are just a few hours of darkness. It’s light when I go to bed and it’s light long before I get up. I’ve been told it never truly gets dark up here at this time of year as dusk turns to dawn, and then the cycle begins again.
Speaking of cycles, I shared the breakfast table this morning with Ken. He’s cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats and should have arrived at the long-awaited signpost sometime early this afternoon.
I was away from Tormore Farm by 8:45 and in dry shoes too. The fog was thick but the sun was trying hard to burn through and so I was hopeful I wouldn’t have a repeat of yesterday. I continued north on the A9 and along the way I met Ian who has been following my blog. Thanks Ian for taking the time to say hello. After our chat I walked on to Latheron where I left the A9 for the A99. The traffic was a bit lighter on the A99 but there were still a surprising number of commercial vehicles on it.
Several miles up the road lay Lybster and although the fog persisted there were occasional gaps beginning to appear. A mile or so beyond Lybster I left the busy roads for good and began my march, almost directly north, on a minor road that would take me all the way to Watten.
The first several miles were dead straight and as I moved inland the fog began to clear and the visibility went from one extreme to the other. The farms and pastures soon gave way to forests and moorland and in the middle of the latter lay the Grey Cairns of Camster, considered to be the best preserved Neolithic chambered cairns in all of Britain. I had a quick visit and took some photos but didn’t venture inside.
The sun was now shining brightly and for a brief time I felt as if I was walking through the prairies with it’s big skies and long straight roads stretching to the horizon. There were a few bends, and after rounding one of them I caught my first glimpse of Loch Watten five miles away. For a long time the Loch never seemed to get any closer, but eventually I reached the A882 and made the short walk over the bridge and into the village.
I’m now within striking distance of John O’Groats. I expect the terrain to be similar tomorrow but this time I’ll likely be walking into the fog rather than out of it. The fog bank on the coast was clearly visible from Watten late this afternoon and by early evening it had reached the edge of the village. But fog or no fog there are only 18 miles to go!