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JOG Trail: Whaligoe to Wick

JOG Trail: Whaligoe to Wick

Postby Alba Bhoy » Tue Mar 19, 2024 7:55 pm

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

Date walked: 17/03/2024

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 17.25 km

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After yesterday's Dunbeath-Lybster-Whaligoe exertions, today it was the simple matter of perambulating from Whaligoe to Wick.

A little bit of overnight rain but today was beautiful. Another day of blue skies, little or no wind, great visibility, ideal weather for a pleasant coastal stroll.

Main decision was how to get from Wick to Whaligoe. The x99 bus trundles south from Wick to Inverness three times a day Monday to Friday; twice on a Saturday but only once on a Sunday. And today was a Sunday and the bus wasn't due to leave Wick until 1133. Bit late in the day that. i was staying in Mackay's Hotel and they found me a taxi that would take me from Wick to Whaligoe for £17.00 That struck me as being money well spent so the taxi rolled up just before 10am and dropped me off at the car park for the Whaligoe steps just after 1015. About 1 hour 45 minutes earlier than the bus could offer.

So, at 1020 I headed off from the car park. Pass to the left of the big house, cross a small burn and head along a narrow path, fence on your left, sea to your right. Felt safe enough on a calm day like today but I was very well aware that there was a very long drop a short distance to my right. To be fair that helped me concentrate on the task in hand!

The path soon moves away from the cliff top and passes into a field. A feature of most of today was how obvious the path was. It seemed more established than the paths I followed from Dunbeath to Whaligoe yesterday. Perhaps more people walk this section as it's closer to Wick?
Today's route goes that way

Whatever, the going underfoot was good. Follow the trail round the back of Ellen's Geo and then across a more open heathery section. I'm not sure why but over the next few hundred metres there were several small sculptures of chess figures, some facing inland, some facing towards the sea.
King of all he surveys

Path cuts through some gorse and soon has you back at the coast where you drop down, cross a small footbridge, and then follow the path uphill through some gorse.

Some amazing coastal views as you head north along the coast. And on the horizon, 13 km offshore, you could clearly see the huge Beatrice windfarm. This really is a spectacular part of the world.
Beatrice wind farm

The very impressive Stack of Ulbster soon comes into view, one of many fine sea stacks I passed today.
Stack of Ulbster, one of many fine sea stacks seen today

The route opens up a bit after this, fences and walls no more but path still visible, even in the tussocky grass, and easy to follow.

Soon Loch Sarclet appears to your left. Just after that appears, cross a fence via a stile and continue along the cliff tops towards Sarclet Head and The Haven.

I gave the Haven a miss. There was a marker post with white paint on it, just to the right of the path, indicating the path that would take you the steep descent to the Haven. I had blisters on my left heel which I think were caused by wet socks from yesterday rubbing against the heel. Did make me realise how wonderful Compeed is! Left heel communicated with my brain to inform it that going down to The Haven and then back up the other side was not a good idea and, remarkably, for once my brain listened.

So strolled round the top of The Haven, pass a large new looking house and continued on the path heading for Riera Geo.
Riera Geo

The path was a bit boggy for a short section at the top of Riera Geo but that was soon negotiated. A couple of very handy plank bridges take you over some of the worst of the bog.

Before you know it, you've arrived at Needle Eye Rock.
Needle Eye Rock

Amazing piece of geology. I took some photos from the slabby portion of cliff and some more from the headland a short distance on. It's worth the wee detour down to the slabby rocks, not only great views of Needle Eye Rock but great panorama looking back south along the cliffs.

Ahead and to your left you'll see an old ruined house. Head for this. The boggiest part of today is the area immediately behind this house. At the back of this ruined house you can either cross a stile or go through a gate to continue. Doesn't matter which you choose, it's muddy, boggy and unwelcoming! However, some kind souls have built several plank bridges over some of this area which helps keep your feet dry. Not an area to wear bright new white shoes!

That boggy area is soon passed and you see some more impressive sea stacks as you approach Helman Head. Path is a bit narrow after South Stack so tread carefully.
South stack

Next up is the wonderful spectacle that is the Stack of Brough or as the signs on the fence called it, 'Scorries Island'. This is another very photogenic piece of rock.
Stack of Brough also known as Scorrie's Island

Would be nice to see these sea stacks from the water. I'd imagine having a kayak in this part of the world could be fun.
One final natural arch

You know you're rapidly approaching the end of this wonderful section as the old Castle of Wick, or what's left of it, soon comes into view. It does look a pretty pathetic sight, what ever majesty it may once have had has long since gone.
Remains of Castle of Old Wick

Once by the Castle you follow a gravel path which leads you onto a tarmac road. No more wet feet! I followed the road, passing the old tidal swimming pool and just before reaching a large house turned right off the road onto a path signed,'South Head Quarries Path'. Simple case of following this path as it leads you towards Wick Harbour, passing various information boards en route and then following the road up to Bridge Street and the centre of Wick.
Wick Harbour

A fantastic walk today. Obviously the weather helped but the coastal scenery today has to be seen to be believed. It was stunning, simply magnificent. I couldn't think of a better way to approach Wick than by following today's trail. Can't recommend this section highly enough, it was superb.

Trail was drier today than yesterday and easier to follow. And there were far fewer fences and walls to cross. Usual quota of JOG Trail signs to help keep you right. And as mentioned above, some of today felt very open compared to some of the previous stages.

1020 - Start Whaligoe car park.
1120 - Stack of Ulbster
1225 - Riera Geo
1315 - ruined house
1420 - Stack of Brough (Scorrie's Island)
1520 - Bridge Street, Wick.

Start 1020, finish 1520, time taken 5 hours, distance 10.75 miles.
Alba Bhoy
Posts: 70
Joined: May 12, 2013

2 people think this report is great.
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