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JOG Trail: Lybster to Whaligoe

JOG Trail: Lybster to Whaligoe

Postby Alba Bhoy » Tue Mar 19, 2024 5:31 pm

Route description: John o'Groats Trail: Lybster to Whaligoe

Date walked: 16/03/2024

Time taken: 3.55 hours

Distance: 12 km

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If this morning's mission was to walk from Dunbeath to Lybster, this afternoon's challenge was to meander from Lybster to Whaligoe and ensure I reached Whaligoe in time to get the X99 bus at 1658 from there back to Wick. Challenge accepted! Navigation was a lot easier on this section than between Dunbeath and Lybster this morning.

Having enjoyed a nice 20 minute break in the Lybster bus shelter, batteries recharged, i set off for Whaligoe at 1220. The first part of this stage is easy; follow the road towards the sea and continue along it as it curves to the left and at the end of the road follow the clear and obvious path.

There is a steep descent down stone steps - Caithness flagstone? - which could be slippy in in rain but weather today was excellent. Afternoon was like the morning, predominantly blue skies with no prospect of liquid sunshine. What goes down must go up so once down at the shore the path climbs back up. Path obvious and easy to follow as you head along the coast passing over several stiles en route.
This afternoon's route goes that way

Soon you get a nice view down to the shore and the ruins of an old building.
Old building on the shore

Amazing how many old ruined buildings lie at the bottom of these steep cliffs. Building them and getting to and from them must have been a major challenge. Who thought; that difficult to reach area way down there seems an excellent place to build, let's get building!

The beautiful view is spoiled a bit further along the coast when you pass what seems to have been a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish.
The Keep Scotland Tidy message doesn't appear to have reached this corner of Caithness

Incredibly the inaccessible looking headland close to this has an old red car on it.
Spot the dumped red car on the headland

A view back to the dumped car. Why?

Getting the car there cannot have been easy. Why not just take it to the nearest scrap merchant?

You soon reach the Occumster burn and its attractive waterfall. The path heads up, waterfall on the right, and just above the waterfall the path crosses the burn on a small bridge. Immediately over the bridge turn right and cross - jump - the stagnant boggy looking burn/bog (call it what you will) and take the path that heads away from the bridge at an angle of approximately 45 degrees. The path is faint but does exist. The path soon crosses a stile over an old wall and returns you to the coast.

There is some fantastic coastal scenery along this next stretch, some magnificent sea stacks. Passed Clyth Harbour at 1350 which has a wonderful double waterfall and an old fishing station. I haven't seen too many double waterfalls on my travels, this was spectacular and very neat.
Double waterfall at Clyth Harbour

The landscape becomes a bit more open and the lighthouse at Mid Clyth soon appears. I reached the lighthouse at 1415 and stopped here for a few minutes to chill, take in the surrounds and eat my Mars Bar in the hope it would help me work, rest and play.
Mid Clyth lighthouse

Heading on from the lighthouse the path, well signed this afternoon with JOG Trail signs, continues to head north. The very impressive stack of Mid Clyth, with a sea tunnel running through it, soon looms into view. What incredible geology this area has, the forces of nature that shaped this coastline can only be marvelled at.

Eventually you cross a bridge over the burn before Hanni Geo. Interestingly, looking at my notes, I've commented that most of the way from just before Mid Clyth to this bridge, the trail runs on the landward side of the coast fence/wall. That said, you are still aware that you are very close to the ocean.

After Hanni Geo the trail cuts inland heading towards Bruan and its two churches, one of which is a ruin. A well constructed path runs through some thick gorse, fence close by to your right. Indeed, the path is so well constructed part of it is a boardwalk. Luxury on the JOG Trail, those who look after and maintain the trail spoil us!

The path comes out the gorse almost at the ruined church. If you want an easy walk to Whaligoe from here you could get onto the road at this point and follow it the km or so north to the car park for the Whaligoe Steps.

No easy option for me, I went through the gate at the ruined church and headed across the field, initially aiming towards the house at the top of the field. Realised that wasn't correct and as I reached the house, headed down the field to my right, towards the sea, and where two enclosures met, crossed over into the next field. A path ran through that field towards another stile then a path from there to a viewing area above the 'harbour' at Whaligoe.

Through a final stile and my goodness what a view looking down towards the 'harbour' and across to the steps. Who decided this was a good place to have a harbour and why!? Yes, let's give the locals a job, they can cut 365 steps (or whatever it is) into the solid rock and people can go up and down these steps everyday carrying fish and supplies. Bonkers, absolutely bonkers.
View across to the Whaligoe steps

Be aware, the path as it leaves this viewing area heading up to the big house is very narrow for a few metres. Whatever you do, don't fall to your right! Follow the signs by the large private house that take you to the car park and the road to Wick. I reached the bus stop across from the Whaligoe car park at 1615, in plenty time for the 1658 bus.

A fantastic day of walking. In my opinion this afternoon's stage from Lybster to Whaligoe was easier than this morning's stage from Dunbeath to Lybster. The path was drier, though still damp underfoot in places, and there were lots of JOG Trail signs to reassure you that you were on the right track. A fantastic day's walking. I'd like, once again, to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made this possible. Your efforts are much appreciated. :clap:

Thankfully the X99 bus arrived on time at 1658 and I was back in Wick just after 1715 and able to rest my weary legs.

Time splits:
1220 - Start Lybster
1305 - 'scrapyard.'
1320 - bridge above the Occumster burn waterfall.
1350 - Clyth Harbour
1415 - Clyth lighthouse
1445 - Mid Clyth sea stack
1540 - churches at Bruan
1615 - Whaligoe bus stop.
Alba Bhoy
Posts: 70
Joined: May 12, 2013

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