JOG Trail@Nybster to JOG

Route: John o'Groats Trail: Keiss to John o'Groats

Date walked: 30/04/2024

Time taken: 4.15 hours

Distance: 18km

Tuesday, 30th April 2024. Last stage of the JOG Trail beckons. Same bus as yesterday, the 0805 Stagecoach 99 bus from Thurso to Wick. When that bus reaches Wick it changes number and becomes the Stagecoach 80 bus going north to JOG. That bus dropped me off at the Caithness Broch Centre at 0900. Doing an extra couple of miles yesterday means two miles fewer to walk today.

Another pleasant day; dry, mainly blue skies and a gentle breeze. Nice conditions to walk the last leg of the JOG trail. Few minutes walk and I was back down at Nybster Harbour. Several camper vans parked in the carpark enjoying a pleasant morning view over the North Sea.

Trail is easy to follow from Nybster, as always the JOG Trail marker signs help.Pleasant meander along the coast, soon crossing over the stone bridge close to the house at Milltown. Few minutes later I passed Samuel's Geo. Glad I wasn't one of the workers who had to build the stone steps leading down to this Geo. Not Whaligoe scale but must have been hard, hard work. Takes about another 20 minutes from here to reach the ruins of Bucholly Castle.

Despite the overnight rain on Sunday 28th April, yesterday's walk was on dry surfaces. Today, there were several short boggy sections between Nybster and Bucholly Castle. Easy to navigate round them and hopefully if we get a run of decent weather many of these 'damp' sections will soon dry out.

I think I took a bit of a wrong turning soon after passing Bucholly Castle. This would be stage 4 in the Walkhighlands notes. The notes mention a stone wall and a stile. I came to a stone wall, which seemed in a state of disrepair, and ducked under a single strand of barbed wire. Once through there seemed to be a clear path running ahead across the hill. I followed that path through the grass. That, with hindsight, was an error. That path crossed a field but took me away from the sea towards another stone wall. Crossed that at a gate and entered a field of close cropped grass, nice and easy to walk on, and crossed that heading towards a peculiar looking stone construction which I think may be the broch shown on the OS map, just to the west of Ness Head.Crossed one final wall, about 50 metres the Freswick House side of the broch, and that was me back on what I assumed to be the coastal path. Basically I went almost due north from Bucholly Castle, coming out just west of the broch, which meant I accidentally cut out the stretch of coast running round by Selly Geo and Ness Head. What I lost in coastal scenery, I made up for in time.

I didn't wade across the river at Freswick Castle.
River at Freswick Castle

There is an easy alternative route, walk by the Castle and head up to the left, through a gate, turn right and over the bridge, then down to your right and you are back on the beach on the north side of the burn. Taking your socks and boots off, wading across, drying your feet and putting your socks and shoes back on would probably take as long as walking!

Walking along Freswick Beach, while nowhere near as impressive as Sinclair Bay, was still a pleasant stroll. At the far end of the beach, where the old tank traps are, head a short distance up a path, then turn right along a road. After about a km, take another right and follow the road down to the pier. JOG Trail signs will keep you right.

From here head along the path, on the coastal side of the fences, towards Skirza Head. Pass Skirza Head and you soon reach the remains of an old Caithness flagstone quarry. JOG Trail signs guide you across this quarry. The next section from here to Wife Geo was boggy; not quite as bad as the section from the Ord of Caithness to Ousdale broch, but still a section where wet feet are almost guaranteed. Although you are at the coast this section felt more like crossing moorland than walking the coast. There is a path, faint in places, but even that was pretty damp underfoot.
View back from Wife Geo

I got my first glimpse of Duncansby Head lighthouse from just south of Wife Geo. After the damp walk from the quarry that was enough to boost my spirits. If I could see the lighthouse, the end of the trail was close!

Shortly after passing Wife Geo you pass through a gap in some fence posts and the path improves, it becomes drier and far easier to follow. And adding to the good cheer, the Stacks of Duncansby soon appear. They are a magnificent sight.
Stacks of Duncansby

Visibility was excellent today, no mist to obscure the view. I hope everyone who wanders this way gets to enjoy the same view of the stacks as I did. With the stacks in view and Duncansby Head Lighthouse becoming ever more prominent, i knew that the end of the trail would soon be reached.

The path becomes better the closer you get to the lighthouse. I reached Duncansby Head Lighthouse at 1240.
Duncansby Head Lighthouse

John O'Groats almost within touching distance to the west. As per the Walkhighland notes I followed the road away from the lighthouse for about 200 metres before cutting downhill at about 45 degrees to my right.
One last stile to cross at the Bay of Sannick

One last stile to cross, drop down and cross the burn, and then a pleasant walk on the grass above the Bay of Sannick towards the promised Land that is John O'Groats.

Reached the JOG Trail sign at 1315.
JOG Trail Arch

Some photos there and again at the JOG sign.
JOG Sign

Time to get a nice ice cream and enjoy the moment. Timing was on my side, the next bus to Thurso was leaving at 1340 (one after that was due to leave at 1650) so finish the ice cream, jump aboard the bus and start thinking what walk to do next!

The JOG Trail was a blast. I really enjoyed it. Easy going most of the way from Inverness to Helmsdale. Cliff top sections from Helmsdale to JOG can be challenging in places but any downsides are more than outweighed by the magnificent coastal scenery. I'm more than happy to recommend the JOG Trail, a fantastic walk to do.

Finally, I would also like to thank all those who made the Trail possible.Those who dreamed it up and all those who give up their free time to maintain it, build bridges and stiles, put up the JOG Trail direction signs, cut back vegetation etc. Please keep up the good work, your efforts were greatly appreciated.

0900 - Start Caithness Broch Centre, Nybster
0930 - Samuel's Geo
1020 - Freswick Castle
1115 - Old flagstone quarry
1135 - Wife Geo
1240 - Duncansby Head Lighthouse
1315 - JOG Trail Arch

Time taken 4 hours 15 minutes, estimated distance 11 miles.

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Alba Bhoy

Activity: Mountaineer
Place: Edinburgh
Gear: Meindl walking boots
Ideal day out: Any that involves enjoying the outdoors under dry, blue skies

Munros: 207
Islands: 31
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way    Great Glen Way    Cape Wrath Trail    John o' Groats Trail   

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Joined: May 12, 2013
Last visited: May 03, 2024
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