We stayed in a b&b for my last rest day, but this was one of the last places putting nylon sheets on guests beds. I hadn’t seen them since around 1970.
I knew today was going to be a challenge and it was.
The JOG trail started off fine taking me on tracks from Portgower to Helmsdale, and then on a path around the bay towards enormous cliffs. I could see the sea of bracken all along their steep slopes.
A grassy path led as far as a WWll lookout. So far, so good.
I then had to go up an almost vertical slope, down and up a steep gulley and then find another old track to yet another lookout. All of this through chest high bracken. Oh, and some enormous gorse bushes and shrubby trees. And it was hot.
I surprised myself by reaching the second track, only to find myself rendered immobile by plant life. At that point, enough is enough, and I retreated very slowly up the old track to the A9. One days walk could easily have become three at that rate.
I hadn’t wanted to go on the road, but as there was a good verge,I made speedy progress.
When I reached Badbea clearance village,I decided to give things a second attempt. Part way down the path to the monument, what should appear, but a JOG trail marker directing me along the infamous wall. In the 18th century, sheep stayed in on the better grass, and the villagers were kept out on the cliffs.
Underfoot was a mix of dry moorland, and grass, so I was able to reach the village of Berriedale without further ado.
I have no idea what this monument on the hillside just before the village is about. There were two of them, and both quite different.
There are similarities to Cornwall up here, but a Cornwall of a very long time ago.
I was pleased to find a very nice café which provided resuscitation. One bowl of soup,a pot of tea with extra water and a jug of tap water, and then I felt better.
Berriedale is right down in a very steep dip and there were too many large lorries coming around steep bends for my liking. I managed to cut out a chunk by following a path from the little harbour and then stayed firmly on the A9.
From time to time,I was able to get off on to side lanes for a bit of peace and quiet.
Todays final piece of JOG trail came just before Dunbeath. I could see white signs in fields below the road, so when an open gateway appeared went down to investigate. No sooner had I started following them,than I was into a trackless tree plantation full of brambles and gorse. Why did I bother.
I will add that the rest of the way was perfectly walkable so it was worth it, and definitely good to be off the road.
Dunbeath is another place with a funny little harbour that looks like it has seen better days.
This cottage was nearly swamped with roses.