Tuesday, 14 July 2015

John o Groats

One thing I didn't give much thought to is what direction my journey would take as I set off on this adventure and oddly the initial direction at least has been backwards : back into the Highland Scotland of my teenage years.

Partly it was the looming imminence of the mountains glimpsed from the train and the flat immensity of the sky, and partly the eternally outdated looking station platforms and the clusters of pebble dashed bungalows round every village and small town.

The sun was setting at ten pm as we approached Thurso and that too brought back memories of endless midge-clouded summer evenings and the last touch was the seen-it-all minicab driver who regaled us with tall tales of bonkers travellers he had ferried from Wick to John o Groats or back: cyclists on penny farthings and seatless bmxs, or his favourite group, who took two weeks to get there from Edinburgh, stopping at every distillery on the route. Aside from the strange near-Orcadian accent he could have been any of the dryly humorous Muilleachs I remember from my youth.

So I started by going backwards then, and maybe before I go forward again I should rest here a while. Not literally - we have seventy miles to cover today - but metaphysically. On the ride down to Golspie I anticipate encountering very little that will define this as the twenty-first century. So maybe for today it can be the seventies again and I can be a lanky teenager with all my life still ahead of me.

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