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Scotland

John O’Groats Trail – Stage 2 – Helmsdale to John O’Groats – 7 Nights

April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct£959 pp

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SUMMARY

John O’Groats Trail – Stage 2 – Helmsdale to John O’Groats – 7 Nights

No. of People: 1

PAYMENT

PAY TODAY £

TOTAL £999

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This is a 233km (145 mile) walking trail from the city of Inverness to John O’Groats at the ‘end of the road’.  The second section takes you from Helmsdale to John O’Groats, the trail becomes more rural and remote as you follow the coastline North – passing castle ruins over rugged terrain to your celebrated destination of John O’Groats.

 

Quick Facts

  • 7 nights’ accommodation
  • 7 days’ walking
  • Guidebook and map provided
  • Daily door to door luggage transfers
  • 24hr on call assistance during your walk if necessary
  • Approx. 106km (66miles) and 2340m (7640ft) of ascent
  • Road, beach/shoreline, cliff-top, fields, woods and moorland walking

About & Details

John O’Groats is a small coastal village situated at the top of mainland Scotland. Although it isn’t the most northerly point of mainland Scotland – you’ll need to travel 14 miles west to Dunnet Head to reach the most northly point – it is the most northerly inhabited point and known as the ‘end of the road’. John O’Groats from an adventurer’s point of view, is maybe best known for its John O’Groats to Lands’ End walking and cycling challenges, the first walk being recorded in 1871. This trail has been developed as part of the first/final section of that challenge, allowing for a more scenic route and less busy road walking.

Some of the walking is challenging, in that it is along cliff tops, which at times can be very narrow, and hazardous if there is a strong wind, with steep drops, so not recommended if you don’t have a good head for heights. There have been bridges, stiles and gates built to make the trail more accessible, but in places, there are fences and stiles, sometimes with barbed wire on top, to cross, so care needs to be taken. The trail has now been marked out with octagonal arrows, but the paths are not always clear. There will be burns to be crossed where bridges have not been erected, but unless there has been a lot of rain, shouldn’t be too difficult to cross. The good news is, the Coastal Road is never far away, giving you options on which sections to walk.

The views, wildlife and heritage will be with you all the way. Learn about the history of the area, remember you are walking a natural route that has connected coastal settlements for centuries. Look out for the seals and dolphins and the plethora of sea birds. The guidebook suggests taking your time on this trail!

Although this trip is based on 2 people sharing, if you are a solo traveller, please contact us for further details and we will be happy to help. You will need full walking kit including waterproof jacket and trousers, a comfortable day sack and comfortable walking boots. You will receive a more detailed kit list upon booking. We take the stress out of your trip with expert local knowledge, hand-picked accommodation, luggage transfers and detailed support to help you find your way.

Inclusions

  • 7 nights’ accommodation in good quality B&Bs or hotels with ensuite or private bathroom and breakfast
  • Luggage transfers each walking day (1 x bag per person, max. weight limit 20kg)
  • Map and guide book plus detailed directions to your accommodation from the trail
  • Expert local knowledge and 24 hour emergency assistance during your trip
  • Professional event organisation
Exclusions
  • Travel to the start and finish points of the trip
  • Lunches and evening meals
  • Personal insurance (for cancellation, accident, health, emergency evacuation and loss, theft of or damage to baggage and personal effects)
  • Guiding (please contact us if you would like this trip to be guided)

Optional extras

  • Single room supplement £90 per person per night (subject to availability)
  • Solo traveller supplement £90 per person per night
  • Odd number group supplement £90 per group per night may apply if a single room is required
  • Extra night prior to the start (single room) £180 per person
  • Extra night prior to the start (twin room, needs 2 people) £95 per person
  • Extra night at the end of the event (single room) £180 per person
  • Extra night at the end of the event (twin room, needs 2 people) £95 per person

Please select from Optional Extras at checkout.

Getting there and back

Getting there: 

By road: Helmsdale is easily accessed from the A9, which links you up to Inverness and Perth down the east side of Scotland.

By public transport: There is a direct train to Helmsdale from Inverness, from where there are good transport links for travel. Alternatively, a bus service runs in the area and links Helmsdale to Inverness – Bus times for X99. Check traveline.info for the latest public transport information.

By air: There are flights from Inverness Airport with a shuttle bus from the city centre to Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

 

Getting back:

By road: The John O’Groats car park is situated at the end of the A99, 17 miles north of Wick, 20 miles east of Thurso.

By public transport: There are limited buses from the John O’Groats car park to Wick and Thurso. Check traveline.info for the latest public transport information. Bus times for X99.

By air: There are flights from Inverness Airport with a shuttle bus from the city centre to Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports.

Evening meals and lunches

You can purchase evening meals either at the accommodation or nearby. When our event planners send you the schedule with your itinerary you could prearrange directly with the accommodation or during the walk.

For lunches we would suggest bringing some of your own favourite snack bars and then asking the accommodation for a packed lunch for the following day and also supplementing that at stops en-route.

Accommodation

Accommodation is generally at B&B, guest houses and small hotels. Once booked in, your event planner will send you a list of your booked accommodation. It is possible to adjust according to preference at this stage so please mention it if you wish to change.

Dog-friendly

If you would like to bring your four legged friend, then we will do our best to source dog friendly accommodation. It is usually possible but if it were not, then we would suggest a change of date to enable it or offer a refund. There may be a small surcharge for the overnight stays. Therefore, once booked in, please alert your event planner that you would like to bring your dog and we can proceed from there.

Need a guide?

If you would prefer to have a guide for your walk, even just for one day, then we are happy to help. We can provide a qualified leader (also first aid qualified) to lead your trek or on just one of the sections. Just ask us.
A guide can not only take the stress out of navigation, but you will also find them a great asset in terms of providing an insight into all things environment and nature.

Dates and prices

For available dates please see the ‘book now’ option on the left hand side on desktops or at the bottom on mobiles. You can reserve your space via this route.

After you book

After placing your booking with us, you will in the first instance receive an automated email from our system confirming receipt of your reservation. If you don’t receive it, it is worth checking your spam/clutter folder.

In the process of placing your booking, you will generally set up an access password to our online gateway where you can review the details of the booking.

Your personal event planner will then be in touch with you to start to confirm the details. This contact will usually be taken up in the working day after receipt of your booking, but may, in busy times, take a little longer. The event planner will then liaise with you regarding the details of the course. If you have any specific requirements, please do mention it at this stage.

At the end of your trip

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end at some point and when you arrive at the end of the trail, you have one of several options. If you have not booked an additional night’s stay then we can transfer your luggage to a location of your choice. From there you may have onward travel arranged as per the ‘Getting There and Back’ tab above.

Some people like to treat themselves to a night’s stay at the end. And why not? You’ve earned it.  You can arrange this as an optional add on with your event planner.

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Itinerary

  • Day 1 - Arrive in Helmsdale

    Arrive at your overnight accommodation in Helmsdale.

  • Day 2 - Helmsdale to Berriedale

    Today, you will be climbing to the highest part of the trip, with amazing views out to sea. Care must be taken as the path isn’t always clear over the moorland areas. You will pass the Ord of Caithness, a granite mass of 198m, on the boundary of the counties of Sutherland and Caithness. There will be the opportunity to visit Badbea, one of Scotland’s clearance villages and see the monument that commemorates them. As you arrive in Berriedale, look out for two monuments on the harbour that are used by sailors, to navigate by to journey into the harbour. You have now reached the halfway mark. You will be transferred back to Helmsdale for your overnight stay.

    14km (9 miles), 510m (1673ft) of ascent

  • Day 3 - Berriedale to Dunbeath

    You will be transferred back to Berriedale to continue your walk. As you set out on the cliff top path today, keep a lookout for amazing waterfalls, cascading into the sea, a small arch at the base of the cliffs and an array of wildflowers, especially in the spring. As the An Dun Headland comes into view, you will see that it has almost broken away from the mainland. Just beyond here, look out for the sea stack known as The Clett. Dunbeath Castle, a 17th Century E-plan tower, stands majestically overlooking the sea. Passing the war memorial and the Dunbeath Heritage Museum, the village of Dunbeath comes into view with it’s quiet harbour. This is where you will stay for the night.

    10km (6 miles), 310m (1673ft) of ascent

  • Day 4 - Dunbeath to Lybster

    It will be an adventure walking the Trail today. It will be dramatic, challenging and with some of the paths overgrown, careful navigation is needed! As the trail meanders its way across the cliff tops, look out for the numerous sea stacks. Passing the scenic Latheronwheel Harbour, take a moment to take in its beauty. When you arrive at Port na Muic, have a look around and see if you can spot Scaraben (626m) and Morven (706m), Caithness’ highest hill. As you continue on, the ruins of Forse Castle dating back to 1200, come into view. The next viewpoint will be at Swiney Hill, giving you the first sightings on Lybster Harbour before heading into the village for your overnight stay.

    14km (9 miles), 330m (1083ft) of ascent

  • Day 5 - Lybster to Whaligoe

    Your walk today will include sea stacks, a natural arch, the ruins of Clyth harbour, once a bustling harbour for the herring fishing industry and the red and white lighthouse of Clyth, along with many geo’s – long, narrow, steep-sided cleft formed by erosion in coastal cliffs. Soon after the lighthouse, you can see the Stack of Mid-Clyth which has a sea tunnel through it. Following the path, as it hugs the coast, circumnavigating fields with the possibility of resident bulls, you will soon see a large white stone house at Whaligoe. Take a moment to look down the 330 stone steps, down to what was another bustling fishing port, known as the Whaligoe Steps. Continue on to the port of Whaligoe from where you will be transferred back to Lybster for your overnight stay.

    12km (7.5 miles), 410m (1345ft) of ascent

  • Day 6 - Whaligoe to Wick

    Your day will start by being transferred back to Whaligoe to continue your walk. It will be a slightly easier walk today through fields with livestock, some uneven ground, and some fantastic coastal views. You will see the remarkable Stack of Ulbster before crossing Mill Burn via a plank bridge! As you descend into Sarclet Harbour, keep an eye open for seals and the remains of a fishing station. Just past Tod’s Gote, there is one of Scotland’s finest arches, Needle Eye Rock, standing approximately 45m in height. Having passed a number of Stacks and Geo’s, the remains of the Castle of Old Wick can be seen. As you get closer to Wick, look for the old tidal seawater swimming pool and old lifeboat station. Having crossed Wick Harbour Bridge, you arrive in the town of Wick for your overnight stay.

    17km (10.5 miles), 300m (984ft) of ascent

  • Day 7 - Wick to Keiss

    On today’s walk, you will pass the lighthouse at Noss Head, the remains of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe and Ackergill Tower, once a 5* Hotel but now a private residence. At low tide, you will get a choice of walking along the sands of Sinclair’s Bay rather than the path. The challenge of the day will be crossing the River Wester, which at low tide will be crossable with care but at high tide and in spate will not. Be warned, it can reach at least chest deep! There is an opportunity to cross it via a bridge on the A99 if needed. You can then beach walk all the way to Keiss to find your accommodation for the night.

    18km (11 miles), 190m (623ft) of ascent

  • Day 8 - Keiss to John O’Groats

    Your final days walk will take you past the ruins of Keiss Castle, before reaching the settlement of Nybster broch and Mervyn’s Tower, a memorial to Sir Francis Tress Barry’s nephew, which is worthy of a visit. More Geo’s and sea stacks, some with arches will continue to be your companions through the day as will another castle ruin, that of Freswick Castle, before reaching the sandy beach of Freswick Bay. From Skirza Head over uneven and boggy ground, you will come to Wife Geo, where there is a large stack with two long natural arches. The very impressive Duncansby Stacks come into view before seeing the lighthouse on Duncansby Head. From the Bay of Sannick, the walking becomes easier with an infrequent boggy patch. You are nearly at the end of your walk, so take the time to savour the last few miles, as you pass Ness of Duncansby and arrive at John O’Groats. Don’t forget to have your photo taken at the famous distance sign before heading to the café for a well-deserved celebratory drink. You’ve made it!

    21km (13 miles), 290m (951ft) of ascent

Notes

Please note: This itinerary is a guide only. Timings and mileages are approximate.

We will always endeavour to accommodate you in the locations detailed in the above itinerary. Due to very high demand, some accommodation providers may occasionally have limited availability and so we may need to accommodate you in an alternative location, nearby. In this case, we will arrange a taxi transfer for you to take you from the trail to your accommodation and back again the following morning. An additional charge may be payable. We will notify you of this when confirming your booking

The Route
Reviews

Find some of the reviews our wonderful customers have left for us below, or read them all here!

We realy appreciated the tour we did on Hadrians Wall path in May.Beautiful scenery, decent weather, god arrangements including lodging, transport, bagagehandling etc. We came well prepared . In this preparation Maximum adventures gave us great support, as we are coming from abroad with no knowledge of conditions on the path. We had great BnBs and could concentrate on de daily walks that gave us great pleasure.Thank you England and Hadrians Wall path for your friendly reception and well mantained walking path.Thank you Maximum Adventures for your good service.We would love to come back in the future.

Jerry Kashinski
5 days ago

Maximum Adventure did a great job for us. With less than a month's notice, it set up an itinerary, lodging and luggage porterage for a walk from Carlisle to Newcastle, England along Hadrian's Wall. The lodging was fantastic, as was the itinerary and support during the walk. We'd definitely use Maximum Adventure again and would recommend them without reservation!

Fiona Reilly
a week ago

I was part of a climb on 23/09, didn't think I would make ut, but I did. The descent was a different story.. I got jelly legs and lost my confidence. If it wasn't for James, my Sherpa would never have made it. Can't thank him enough, Will, met you briefly.Both of them were very knowledgeable, we had the most amazing views at the summit...the pain is still worth it and

Tom Graham
3 weeks ago

I walked the West Highland Way with my dad and brother. The organisation was excellent by Samantha. Itinerary and instructions were clear and all the bookings and luggage transfers went smoothly. As a result we were able to ensure the fantastic walk and not worry about anything. I would happily recommend Maximum Adventure to others.

Sarah Bracken
4 weeks ago

Absolutely brilliant guide - knowledgeable, interesting and humorous in addition to looking after our safety so well - making sure we ate and suggesting when to layer up! Would highly recommend!

Diana Straub
a month ago

We just got home from our 8-days Hadrian's Wall hike and we just loved it!Everything was perfectly organized!We had great B&Bs and hotels with very friendly, welcoming and helpful staff. Our favorite was the Dacre House with Clare. But then again, all were great!The luggage was always at the day's destination, no matter how early we got to the accommodation.The description of how to get to the accommodations were clear and precise.The road map and the guide book were waiting for us as we got to the first B&B and were very helpful and interestingThanks, Maximum Adventure!

Kristin Hentschel
a month ago

Praise for the West Highland Hike and the Maximum Adventure planners, esp. our planner Samantha. Great experience in every regard.

Simon Bradish
a month ago

Booked for the 3 UK Peaks adventure, it was organised perfectly and everything when to plan. Accommodation was good, transport excellent, our guide (Patrick) brilliant, so cannot fault the trip and adventure. I personally expected too much from myself and was unable to fully summit as this adventure is not for beginners, I climbed Kilimanjaro in 2003 when I was 42 and twenty years later, although relatively fit, my endurance didn't last. So I did a half summit for Ben Nevis & Scafell, thanks to Patrick for letting go back down on my own, it was brilliant. With Snowdon, a half summit is tricky as you can't descend the way you go up, so I decided to do some hiking in the area while the rest of the group did the climb. I took a chance and went to the ticket office and managed to get a single return ticket up to the summit of Snowdon at 9am which returned down by 11.30am. I was hoping to see my group on top and spring a surprise but the weather was terrible. I highly recommend the trip but make sure you are fit enough otherwise as there is an emphasis on time, so a slow walk up is going to slow everyone down and really delay the trip. Have Fun, Simon Bradish

Denise Parkinson
a month ago

Just an amazing experience. Maximum Adventure booked us into a great hotel in Fort William, and after a great night' rest - we met our guide Innes. Innes was brilliant. He gave us the confidence we needed and looked after the entire group. He also waited until the last person was down off the mountain safely. We also learned a lot about the history and geography of the region as well. It was fantastic. Thank you Maximum Adventure.

mark amos
2 months ago

Great service from MA. Good, prompt communications, the accommodations they booked were all either on the trail or within a mile of it. Good maps, info, and updates.

Why book with us

We know you have a choice of companies providing trips for your next adventures. Here are some of the reasons you should choose to travel with Maximum Adventure:

  • We are an established adventure travel business
  • We have been trading since 2002
  • We are financially protected in accordance with the 1992 travel regulation
  • Knowledgeable and available office staff
  • Qualified leaders and guides with ascents ranging from Ben Nevis to Mount Everest
  • All activities are risk assessed
  • We will provide you with the best service available
  • We are aware this is your holiday/your challenge and will do our best to make it an enjoyable and rewarding experience
  • We have many repeat clients stretching back over a number of years
20+ years adventure organisation experience
Full liability & financial protection
Leading provider of high quality adventure challenges
Great team of staff to support you

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