Monday, 27 June 2011

Day 11- Lewiston to Invermoriston

Worst shower so far...was so disappointing!! This morning we met the first walker coming the other way, heading for John O Groats, we later found out he was called Ian. Was nice chatting to him and sharing stories. He told us that he'd met a few couples walking the same way as him including a couple in there 60's so we said we'd keep an eye out for them. Today was much the same as yesterday, a path through the forest. It seemed to be a very stop start day for one reason or another and we soon decided to stop in Invermoriston and have an early night rather than go on to Fort Augustus which was the original plan.Today we sawe a deer, slow worm and a frog, good day for wildlife!

We found a bench that was on a patch of grass looking over loch ness, it was like a stage! We had the ipod out and had a little performance...rude not to!We nearly got caught singing and dancing to loch ness as a group of cyclists came around the corner. We quickly stopped what we were doing....i think they thought we were a bit weird with our leki poles (microphones) in our hands and looking guilty.

When we got into the village we got some food for dinner and asked the lady about campsites. She told us there was one a mile down the road. This was a bit out the way but we thought oh well we'll have to walk the extra. Whilst we were looking round the shop the lady then came over an said, "i could see you were looking tired and my aunty owns the campsite so i rang her and she's coming to pick you up," this was lovely of her and we thought as long as we walk back here to the shop in the morning that will be fine because we wont have missed out any distance. The campsite was small but really nice, the toilet/shower was really decieving....from the outside it looked really run down buit inside it was amazing!! Best shower yet!

Attacked again by midgies so we stayed in the tent with fly sheets done up! The campsite owners husband (Steve) walked up to our tent and asked if we were heading to Laggan Locks tomorrow. He went on to say that if we were he worked there and was leaving at 8 in the morning but if we wanted he could drop some of our stuff off there to save us carrying it. This was an amazing offer so we did not refuse, we just had to make sure we were up early the next day!

Day 10- Inverness to Lewiston

Well we were going to have an early start this morning but we have a phantom alarm turner offer so we didn't end up leaving until about 11. Had to put on bags which were still slightly wet which wasnt nice but we left our boots in the laundry room stuffed with newspaper over night and they were pretty dry so that was alright. It seemed to take us ages to get out of invernes...we kept getting lost!! After asking directions from a group of walkers we eventually found our way onto the great glen way and we were off. The day started with a steep uphill and by the time we got to the top we were sweating already! The weather was really weird, the sky was really blue in places and then there were massive black clouds and we had lots of heavy showers throughout the day. Most of today was walking through the forest but it made a nice change to walking along the road. Lots of midgies though...we hate midgies!! Today we got our first view of Loch Ness through the trees and we saw "the line!!" (The line where one side is raining and one side is dry) was very exciting! The path today was really random, it would zig zag down for ages only to zig zag straight back up the other side, we didn't really understand!

We saw a crazy lady who was running up the really steep hill! We couldnt believe it! We were struggling not to slip over walking and she was running on it! There was a really steep down hill section which looked like you'd need a rope to climb it. Mum this extreme runner reminded me of you! (Mandy, not Emma). We were going to wild camp tonight but there wasn't really anywhere to stop so we ended up at a cute little campsite. Had a nice evening listening to ipods and writing diaries. Richard Cooper if your reading this (if your not we're disappointed) you would have been so impressed, we made a pulley system in the tent to get a picture of us on self timer, it was brilliant!

Rest Day Inverness

Had a lovely day although i don't know if it could be called a rest day! Had lots of chores to do! Went to boots and restocked and also had our first weigh in. We have already lost a combined tiotal of 7lb! we thought this was pretty impressive! Went to library to use the internet and then to an internet cafe as well as we ran out of free internet time in the library. After we'd caught up on writing some blog and put up some pictures we went to a weatherspoons for a drink and relax which was nice.

Day 8- Dingwall to Inverness

Today was hideous! The A9 was a dual carriageway! Very busy, noisy and quite scary!! The weather was horrible, really wet, and the day was also longer than expected. Was a relief to finally see the bridge over into Inverness! First stop in Inverness was a launderette because we hadn't been able to dry any clothes for days. It was nice to get out of the rain and the lady in the launderette made us a cup of tea, we also got to use the computers in there which was handy. After using and abusing all the facilities we finally left about 2 hours later and after gettingsome food from tescos we head off for the campsite. We looked like tramps. We had full waterproofs on, flip flopps and had tesco carrier bags in our hands....we got some starnge looks. Aoppartently its odd to walk around town with leki poles?! After the best dinner yet iof pastam, chicken, pepper and tomatoes it was time for bed!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Day 7 Invergordon - Dingwall

1 day until Inverness! Day started off as a beauty! We were actually up and nearly packed away before 10am, which was a rareity when a lady (wife of man who's garden we were camping in) asked if we would like a cup of tea! We were like ooohhh that would be lovely, so she told us to pop up to the house when we were ready. We definatly did not need telling twoce! We were straight up there, we got to the house and she had made and buttered lots of toast for us! We were already full as we had breakfast in the tent but she had gone through the effort of maing it for us so we felt we should eat it. Note 2nd stomach when needed.
We were downstaires munching our way through a mountain of tea and toast when she asked if we would like to use the bathroom to go to the toilet and wash, then she went upstairs to check there were fresh towels out! (Best case scenario come true!!!) She was disgusted when her husband told her we were camping in the garden and told us there was a water tap at the top of it she said 'Men, He should have let you in the house'!
We were there fopr waround half an hour - 45 minutes when she l;et us get on our way, as the original plan was to get to alness, we were in minus miles before the day had begun!

The road walking today was much the same as it has been. Finally arrived in Dingwall and went to Tescos for some food before finding the campsite and setting up the tent. At the campsite we bumped into Karen a lady who we'd met a few nights previous in the Brora campsite. After dinner we went and called for Karen and all went to the pub for a drink and to charge phones. The first pub we went it seemed to be having an extreme dominos night so we gave that one a miss.

Day 6 Dornoch to Saltburn (Invergordon)

The morning of the party campsite! Woke up and our neighbours either side had vanished! Must have been our raving in Dornoch on a saturday night (lemonades and plug point abuse at the local pub) Looking at the map it was going to be a long day, started off mith me (jade) sad and Becks happy walking along the big bridge. Our first stop off poin would be at a town called Tain, we thought it was about 6 miles away, and when you have 6 miles in your head, even a step further is too far. I was annoyed as i needed a wee, and walking on the main road (A9) there was no where to go, frankly, i was narked off! Becks really needed a wee aswell and all we could think about was getting to Tain.
Tain, Tain, Tain, i was starting to hate the place! We finally saw the signpost WELCOME TO TAIN, then we saw a co op we never walked so fast to it knowing there would be a toilet! They put it at the back of the shop which was annoying so we HAD to buy a slice of chocolate fudge cake and a cup of tea, rude not too! Becks was pleased with the purchase when i got to the table, a wee and a slice of cake cheered us up, what more do you need on a sunday?
Then it started to rain. Urgh. Back to the A9 or some serious miles, it was 3pm and we still had 12 miles to cover due to laziness at the party campsite and co op cake selection, however, in Ten Tors 55 mile pace we sped through it stopping off at Kens garage having a dry brown pitta with a slice of ham. no moisture. 
Fially we got off the A9 and followed a B road around the coast, tonight we were meant to wild camp, however, as usual we couldn't find anywhere so we were imagining best and worst case scenarios which could happen, with best case being an elderly couple to take us in, feed us, water us and let us take full advantage of showering facilities!........................we can dream
We saw a sign for camping with interent which was ideal and just what we needed,  however when we asked we were told the camping area was waterlogged and she offered us a bed in the hostel, but at a price! Sadly we had to decline and hope for best case scenario to come true!
After knocking on a couple of doors hoping to ask people where we could camp we saw a man walking down his driveway towards us, so we asked him if he knew anywhere we could camp and he replied 'yes, in my back garden'. He was so cute! His back gaden was accross the road and backed on to the beach which was pretty cool so we were about 3m away from the sea, we saw a massive cruiseliner leave invergordon and told about 60 come to the town every summer. So we were all camped up by the beach :) Lovely.

Day 5- Brora to Dornoch

Today was a really nice day! We walked along the beach again this morning to a town called Golspie. There were lots of seals again and we even saw one on the beach which we tried to get really close to but when i started walking towards it to get a photo it wriggled back into the sea. Walking along the beach this morning we met a man called Mark who was from Cornwall and who was cycling around the whole coast of Britain, this was the fourth summer he'd been doing it!!!We also went past a massive catsle which was looked like disneyland!! we later found out that this used to be a school!

In Golspie we had lunch outside the public toilets in the middle of a carpark and then went in a cafe for a much needed cup of tea! After this lovely lunch break we caied on along the road again. We weren't walking for long when a man on the othe side of the road called us over. It turns out him and his friend were cycling to Lands End and we stopped and chatted to them for a little while. 

Today we were happy even though we still had to do a fair bit of road walking. We managed to get off the A9 and walk along a smaller yellow road which was alot nicer and no where near as busy. Walking along here we passed an older couple out on a stroll, the man asked us if we were off to lands end, when we replied "yes" he was shocked and said  "well thats enough to make me put a hand in my pocket and gave us 10 poung for the childrens hospice. 

When we finally arrived in Dornoch the first thing we did was get our bags off and rest on the bench in the square. Whilst we were resting hee a couple with a dog approached us and we recognised them as a couple who were also at the same campsite as us last night! We ahd a nice chat with them and when heaing what we were doing at the route we were going to take the lady gave us her address and said that she lived along part of the pennine way and if we gave her a ring when we got there she would happily put us up for the night! How nice!

When we got to the campsite which we called a "party campsite!" because it was massive, we got the tent up had dinner and showered and then went off in search of a pub to charge phones. After a drink and a some games of cards we walked back to the tent wrote diaries and went to bed.

Day 4- Helmsdale to Brora

Woke up to beautiful sunshine!! The first task of the morning was to wash last nigyhts dishes so i went off and found the tap along the harbour which the lady had said we could use. The harbour looked beautiful in the sunshine and so far Helmsdale is both our favourite place to stay! After the dishes we had bacon butties for breakfast which wrere amazing and then went off in search of some toilets.

When everything was packed away we got onto the road and started walking across the bridge when jade realised she had forgotten her ipod speaker so had to run back again quickly and get it. Finally we got walking. We had decided that today we would walk to Brora alog the beach as the locals at the pub the night before had said it was a lovely walk and alot safer and nicer than walking the whole way along the A9. However, i think after crossing the bridge we were unsure how to getonto the beach so started walking the first bit on the road. We passed through a place called Port gower and took a picture for Jack.We soon found a little gate that crossed accross the train track so we could get to the beach on the other side. We weren't really sure if we were allowed through as it went through someones garden but we did anyway as we thought it was worth the risk!

The beach was gorgeous!! We started walking along in our boots but then reached a river so we took our boots off and walked along bare foot for a while which felt amazing. We spotted lots of seals in the sea and a couple of them were stalking us, swimming alongside but underwater then looking around to see where we were and then bobbing under again. There were lots of jelly fish as well which Jade found amazing! She was trying to save them by flicking them back in the water with her leki pole which i found rather funny!

We eventually reached a caravan site which was right next to the beach and we followed a path through here to reach the road as we didnt want to follow the beach right into Brora as our campsite was about a mile outside. After such a lovely morning walking along the beach and watching the seals the road walking was fvery boring and painful on the legs. Today was alos the day i realised Jade has massive mood swings!! Genuinally scared! Didnt talk to her until the campsite as it seemedlike the safest option. 

When we got to the campsite we were a bit disappointed. We realised actually how nice the Dunbeath campsite was and i think that we were spoilt with somewhere so nice so early, our expectations are going to be too high now! Anyway, by this point it was spitting so we wanted to get the tent up fast. Jade wanted to pitch the tent as close to the toilets as we could so we ended up pretty much camped in the entrance/ owners garden not really on the campsite. However, they didn't move us which i thought they might do so that was good. The toilet block in this place was really odd! None of the doors shut and you had to pay for the showers. I knew it was odd he second i walked in and saw the squares of carpet on the floor and the funny shower curtains hanging everywhere. However, the lady that owned the campsite did seem really nice and offered to hang up the clothes we had washed in the sinks on her washig line :)

For dinner we walked into town and treated oursleves to sausage and chips and a massive bar of dairymilk for afters! :) Jade soon cheered up.

Day 3 - Dubeath to Helmsdale

Yet again leaving the campsite at around 10- 11am, we realised were not early risers, never have been, never will be and even though we left late we have never to date arrived at a campsite or a place to sleep past 6.30, as when we walk, WE WALK! Looking at distances and times, most of the time were walking at around 4mph, which with our bags is not bad, even though the terrain is pretty flat. Another day along the A99 for us but I think it might have changed to the A9 today....... not too sure. Today marked the day of our first county crossing! From Cathiness to Sunderland!
Walk was fairly pleasent, both our feet were starting to hurt today, toes fetting crushed, the beginning of blisters and just general aches and pains, the road had lost its novelty too, it was starting to get a bit busier, which meant staying more alreat and dodging lorries, there are sooo many lorries up here! We can't understand where all of the lorries are going!
Every corner we turned we were dreading this 'massive hill' which we had been warned about, however, every corner we turned....nothing. Just a little incline/decline in the road, we finally got to the outskirts of Berridale and we saw a hill worhty of being called a hill, however, walking down in to the Beridale dip was more hard work than walking up the other side! We kept the same pace throughout and barely broke a sweat! We were wondering if that was the 'massive hill' and it must have been as it was flat as a pancake all the way to Helmsdale, so just to let the lady know, she was not aware of what we were capable of! and my bag didn't feel heavy the whole way :)
In the morning we had been told that we may be able to pitch our tent outside of the youth hostel as we couldn't afford to stay in the youth hostel and there were no wild camping areas or campsites nearby, so we rocked up at the youth hostel at around 5pm and asked the lady if we could set up our tent, she was unsure as she was new to the hostel so rang the owner, unfortunatly the answer was no as they could not support campers due to their facilities but she told us there was a tourist information centre down the road which would give us a better idea where to go. 
The tourist information centre was so cute! It was a little nik nak shop with tourist information attatched, we asked the lady if she knew anywhere we coulde could set up our tent for the night and was shocked when she replied 'yes follow me back here' so we went around the back of the tourist information centre which looked like a large garden and she went through all of the places we could set up the tent, she was really lovely and didn't want any money or anything, when we asked what to do about toilets she said we could find the harbour master who may lend us the key to the toilets for the night, we were getting tired for a wild goose chase and wanted to shelter from the rain so we thought we would go to a local pub for a drink where we could charge our phones and use the toilets.
Had a lovely night in the pub called the Belgrave arms hotel chatting to the locals and a German couple on holiday, they warned us the further west we go (Fort William) we will be plauged with midgies and rain! Somehting to look forward to then i suppose. 
After using and abusing their toilet facilities and phones fully charged time for diary writing and bed!

Day 2 - Wick to Dunbeath

Today was a killer.Currently on day 9 and looking back over the past week this was our saddest day. We left Wick at around 10.30am (not befiore using and abusing Tesco's toilet facilities) and started the long 23 mile walk to Dunbeath, as yesturday the wlak strated on and finished on the A99, half way through the day we felt like we had covered what felt like miles and miles (to be faire it probably was) and when I looked at the map to see how long we had left I had to break the bad news that we had 18km left! We just felt pretty tired and a little bit bored and we knew that 18km is a long way! However we manned up and sorted ourselves out as we knew that we were walking towards a campsite whihc meant showers, and we love showers :) 
Arriving in to Dunbeath we saw a sign for the Inver caravan park that said 1 mile! That was such a dead mile, we thought it was cruel having a sign so far away! When arriveing at the campsite we went to book it and the owner was tryign to tempt us to stay in the B&B, i must admit she did make it sound very tempting and kept talking about cosy beds and home cooked food! Well We would have of she offered it to us at the same price as camping, but we all knew that that wasn't going to happen! She told us her bathroom facilities were 'The best in Scotlad', i think she prided herslfe over them and was pretty home proud. She looked at our packs and said that they looked too heavy and that we would never be able to make it to Lands End if we didn't send stuff home. She kept saying it and all i kept thinking was theres nothing in  my bag i can take out, i need it all! When packing 3 days ago i was very strict and made sure i took out any unesassary items, and now someone who has never done the walk before or knows our limits is telling us that we can't do it!
She also kept telling us that we hadn't been up any 'proper hills' yet and tomorrow will be a killer, especially with our bags as heavy as they are, I mentioned that we lived in Devon therefpre we know a good hill when we see one, but she was adamant that the hill around the berridale area would pretty much kill us! But she didn't know our limits so I was hoping the next day we would be able to prove her wrong.  
I took an instant dislike, Becks was being the voice of reason and thoughout about her advice, so we set up camp and to be faire to her the bathrooms were probably the best in Scotland! 
We had our own little room woth shower, toilet, sink ect and it was all brand new and very cosy, they had a drying room, washing maching, IRON! so far this was the best campsite facility wise.So at the end of a sad day walking we were cheeered up with a nice hot shower and lots of food!
Also, we met two guys today that were cycling from Land End to John O Groats so didn't have far left to go. We stopped and chatted to them and they were lovely! After heaing what we were doing they said they respected anyone who could carry their kit with them and they gave us 10 pound which we thought was really nice of them.

Day 1 John O Groats To Wick

Sorry the blog has taken so long to update, limited internet acess! Currently in Inverness library and we forgot to bring our diaries so this is a week memory!

So this morning we left the John o Groats Youth Hostel (as much as we didn't want to) and jumped on the bus to our official start place. It was a beautiful day in the North the sjy was blue and the sun was shining however we did have to queue for a picture with the sign post! 
We had our infamous picture with the John o Groats signpost and had a picture to send home, which i don't think has arrived yet 9 days later.... 
So the walk was underway! We left John o groats at around 11am, and as we were about to find out this would be our avergae leaving time for any morning whether we were in a campsite or not. The wlak started with the 'dreaded' A99, as we were walking along in the sunshine we were wondering what the big fuss was abouot, the road was fine! It was easy terrain to cover easy miles and cars were sparse along the road, if only we could have kept this midset. The walk was an easy flat 17 miles along the A99 with some nice coastal views, we stopped for lunch in a n old petrol station looking at the sea for about an hour and we thought 'we could get used to this! the first day we were aiming to camp at/around Wick, we were looking for somewhere to wildcamp as our budget for the trip is only allowing us to be in a campsite roughly every other night, looking at the map there didn't seem many places to camp so when we arivd in Wick, 17 miles later i asked the trolley man in the tesco superstore if he knew anywhere we could camp, he pointed opposite Tesco to a disused factory and its grounds he said we would be fine if we camped there as no one goes around there, it looked a bit strange but it looked like home! Before we went off he did  mention that if his garden was big enough then he would ghave let us camp there which was nice!
So we started making camp and were very in view of Tesco which we thought could get a bit sketch if people knew we were there so we re located to the other side of the factory, after a good dinner of pasta and sauce with french stick and nibbles we were truly ready to go to bed! The factory grounds were used as a shortcut from the road for people to walk to tesco and about half an hour after we got in to bed we could hear a group of kids walking past the tent, didn't think anything of it until we started hearing them pelting the tent with stones! We thought it was best not to shout anything as this might only make them come back and throw something bigger than a stone!