Mark Walks LEJOG Day 66 – Helmsdale to Dunbeath

Hullo. How are you? I hope you are having a good day. I’m Mark and I’m walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats…

After an easy, level walk to Navidale, the trail ascended onto cliff tops, for what would be mostly a hill walking day.

I combined two stages of the John O’Groats Trail today. The first, from Helmsdale to Berriedale is considered to be one of the most challenging, with several thousand feet of ascent making it the most climb since the West Highland Way.

As rivers make their way to the sea, the ravines they have carved mean the hiker must descend and ascend repeatedly throughout the walk. Several of these climbs are amongst the steepest of the entire LEJOG walk.

At Ousdale, I explored the broch for a while and chatted to a Swiss man who is touring the Scottish Highlands by car with his wife. He couldn’t quite get his head around the fact I’ve walked from Land’s End and concluded I must be mad.

The descent from here is so steep that the people who look after the path have installed a staircase – more like a ladder in some places – which is an exciting and bonkers thing to do with a heavy backpack eager to throw one off balance.

At the bottom of the ravine, I crossed the small river using one of the many bridges installed by the Friends of JOGT – the group of enthusiasts who conceived and look after the trail.

And then it was an equally steep climb back up onto the cliff tops once more and through the abandoned village of Badbea, where a monument stands as a memorial to the Highland Clearances.

Shortly after Badbea, the trail follows a good track all the way to Berriedale, with great views behind of the cliffs already walked.

Arriving at Berriedale, I used the two towers to navigate to the village.

Beyond the second tower, a steep and precarious path leads down to the small but very pretty hamlet.

The climb out of Berriedale is very steep, but short. So I was soon back up on the cliff tops and walking towards Dunbeath.

The Friends of JOGT have placed a sign-in book along the cliff, which I took a moment to read through and then added a message of my own.

Again, the views from the cliffs were amazing, with a particularly impressive vantage point of a giant natural arch.

The cliffs are home to thousands of nesting birds, which fill the air with acrobatics and song continuously.

The path leaves the cliff edge shortly before Dunbeath to pass through the grounds of Dunbeath Castle. This was a complete change of scenery from the rest of the day, beginning with a dark pine wood.

It was then a very easy walk into Dunbeath, where I was not able to find a hotel, so have booked a ‘pod’ for the night.

The Day 66 Vlog

Fundraising for MacMillan Cancer Support

As I walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats, I am hoping to raise £10,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support, who do such a wonderful job of supporting families through the most difficult times. If you are able to spare any amount and would like to donate to MacMillan, please do so through my Just Giving Page.





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