Seals and Landmarks

The big news today is we made it! We’ve been to the north east most tip of mainland UK! Yep, against all odds, Willow the van and the four of us made it all the way to John O Groats. We can’t really get any further from our starting point, so if we just have to take the handbrake off and roll all the way back home we got this far!

Having parked up for the night in an unknown location as it was pitch dark we were very pleasantly surprised to pull back the curtains this morning and find ourselves overlooking the stunning scenery of Gills Bay, overlooking Stroma island with some of the most impressive waves and white horses I’ve ever seen.

We walked down to the beach and explored the rock pools, looked at the shells and Dragon chipped away at a piece of slate to present me with a heart shaped coaster.

for me, from Dragon. He’s so lovely.

it was so windy Ady had to put the camera inside Willow and then dash back outside to get this shot!

We retreated back to Willow for tea /coffee/hot chocolate and were treated to the seals below us playing in the surf, riding the waves, coming out to flop about on the rocks and sand and generally entertain us.

Then we headed back east to John O Groats. The visitor centre was an interesting selection of very overpriced gift shops, several empty units, an excellent museum which was free, a very brightly painted castle type building in a state of disrepair and some toilets with a 20p admission charge. I was desperate for a wee so ducked under the turnstyle as Ady was taking too long to find change in the van and when I came out the attendant told me off! I paid of course and infact later went back in with another 20p and my shampoo, a beaker and a towel and washed my hair in the sink there deciding if I had to invest money I would get more than a quick wee for my cash!!!

right to the top!

quite tempted to carry on to the north pole!

amazing paintwork, if rather random

checking out the information

It was very windy and rainy so after taking the obligatory tourist-y pictures we bought some postcards and hopped back into Willow for lunch and hot drinks. The weather then cheered up enough for us to head slightly further along the coast and walk almost to Duncansby Head (although in reading about it we didn’t quite make it to the tip as we missed seeing the stacks). This took in the amazing sea of the Pentland Firth which is wild, undulating, unforgiving and very, very dramatic and beautiful. It rather reminded me of Star…. there was no pattern to the sea at all, it appeared to be heading in all directions at once with waves breaking everywhere and a surface like a very wobbly jelly. The beach was made of shell-sand, larger and smaller broken fragments of all colours of gorgeous shells. We had the company of a group of three seals who really seemed to interact with us, edging closer and even following us curiously along our path. It’s times like these when we so wish we had a better camera as we simply don’t do what we’ve seen with our eyes justice.

the seal

check out those waves

wild, untamed, dangerous….

throwing himself into life

On the walk back Star was telling me all the different places she wants to visit one day, the animals she wants to see, the experiences she wants to have. I told her that if I can teach her anything it should be never to be trapped by life; to fret about paying a mortgage, having new clothes or wishing for things she’ll never be, but to spend her life living it, having adventures, chasing experiences, following her heart and dreams. She slipped her hand in mine and promised she would learn that lesson from me. I hope she does.

We drove back to Thurso for petrol (we now have a full tank) and milk and then onwards in search of an overnight stop. We are parked up at Melvich now, overlooking the sea again but with a large strip of heather and wild looking land infront of us. I can see the lights of Thurso twinkling to the right and a lighthouse sending it’s searching light out to the left but infront is nothing but black.

We spent nothing but our petrol today as we’d already got dinner from yesterday – pork chops and veg from the reduced to clear sections of supermarkets and some leftover spuds donated by a friend last week. Delicious.

Once it got dark and we’d all eaten we turned all the lights off in the van and got Star’s night vision monocular out which was her Christmas present last year and has been hugely under used so far. We all had a look and although we didn’t see anything out there – I think it is far too wet, windy and wild really – we have pledged to have a 15 minute darkness time after dinner every night and use them wherever we are, so fingers crossed we see some interesting nighttime sights too.

We finished our day with hot chocolate (some of us laced with Baileys) and a couple of chapters of story all snuggled up together on the bed.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring.

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