JOHN O’GROATS TRAIL – 9. Berriedale to Dunbeath.

Misty clifftop walking – but lots to see.

The excellent weather of yesterday couldn’t last and I spent most of today in drizzle, not that it mattered much as I was looking below at the cliffs and all the birdlife.

Yesterday’s bus driver welcomed me aboard for the short trip back to Berriedale,I was the only one alighting.  I avoided the temptation of the cafe and made my way down to the harbour, I don’t think many boats tie up here.  A bouncy suspension bridge crosses over to a row of cottages above the rocky bay. Proper ornithologists have their telescopes trained on the conveniently placed cliffs, I spot kittiwakes through my pocket binoculars but fulmars are also pointed out to me. The waves are crashing into the shingle beach.

A green path heads up towards a small cemetery but there I become lost in earthworks for another straightening of the A9, as if it is not fast enough already. My frustration is tempered with good views back down to the harbour. A bit of bashing through gorse soon has me back on track but on the wrong side of a fence which can create a problem.

Once on the clifftop I kept mostly outside of fences and walls – this was proper cliff walking  – right on the edge. A good head for heights is useful in some places and I wouldn’t like to be here in a gale.

The Bluebells are late flowering up here and they give a colourful show with Pink Campions and Greater Stitchwort

In rough land there was someone’s private bird hide, I imagined the owners bragging at a cocktail party “oh we have our own private hide  – don’t you?”   It did have a fantastic view though.  A little further just entering some trees was a box containing a signing-in book for the trail, only about 25 had done so this year.

Ahead the headlands were all a bit vague in the murk but here was my first sea arch.

Through a high cliff the Allt na Buaidhe stream tumbles in a spectacular waterfall, it was a bit short of water today.

I worked my way round to the valley of the stream where there was a new footbridge to cross. Strangely a path had been strimmed to the very edge of the falls, a every dangerous spot, Samaritans help number needed, but good views back to that small sea arch. You would have to lie on your stomach to look over at the waterfall – I didn’t.

The path to nowhere…

Moving on I was getting ready for lunch and spotted a stone bench, this turned out to be the perfect viewpoint for watching the birds on the An Dun headland and it’s massive arch.

I dont think I’ve ever seen so many birds, literally thousands on every ledge available. Mainly Guillemots and Razorbills. The latter are distinctive closeup.

The Kittiwakes and Fulmars tended to stay aloof.

After all that excitement in the next bay was The Cleft sea stack, it remained in sight for some time.

The going became difficult in long rough grass with only faint sheep trods to follow. However a group of sheep startled by me proceeded ahead creating a path as they went – a good idea for helping open up the trail.

Another stack appeared as I traversed high above the sea.

Diversions inland around Dunbeath Castle weren’t too bad how does this fit with the so called Scottish right to roam?

The gates to Dunbeath Castle are not overly friendly to walkers, a lot of these estates have been bought by rich foreigners who would like to keep the likes of us off the land. I didn’t get the feeling that there was much opposition to this denial of the right  to walk wherever as allowed by Scottish law. Maybe time for a mass tresspass.

The old A9 entered the scattered community that is Dunbeath, everywhere was shut.

An old path goes down to the Dunbeath harbour from where there is have a steep climb to my B and B.

That felt like a long short day.

Accommodation – Inver Park House B & B

*****

 

4 thoughts on “JOHN O’GROATS TRAIL – 9. Berriedale to Dunbeath.

  1. chuckles4th

    Loving reliving the JOG Trail, although I have to admit that as I was almost at the end of my own LEJOG with a foot injury, I resorted to the dreaded A9 at times. Looking forward to you getting to the end of your intrepid journey! Jules Forth

    Reply
    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      There was only one that day at 10.30am so I didn’t get an early start. Won’t need to use it anymore. That was the only gap in B and Bs at Berriedale , hence two nights at Dunbeath. Although the A9 runs quite close to the coast you feel a long way from it, getting off the trail safely could be a problem in places.

      Reply

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