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Scotland

John O’Groats Trail – 14 Nights

April, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct £1799 pp

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SUMMARY

John O’Groats Trail – 14 Nights

No. of People: 1

PAYMENT

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TOTAL £999

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This is a brand new 233km (145 mile) walking trail for 2023, from the city of Inverness to John O’Groats at the ‘end of the road’ and it is still evolving.

 

Quick Facts

  • 14 nights’ accommodation
  • 14 days’ walking
  • Guidebook and map provided
  • Daily door to door luggage transfers
  • 24hr on call assistance during your walk if necessary
  • 233km (145 miles) and 3490m (11,451) of ascent
  • Road, 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

  • 14 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 £75 per person per night (subject to availability)
  • Solo traveller supplement £75 per person per night
  • Odd number group supplement £75 per group per night may apply if a single room is required
  • Extra night prior to the start (single room) £145 per person
  • Extra night prior to the start (twin room, needs 2 people) £90 per person
  • Extra night at the end of the event (single room) £145 per person
  • Extra night at the end of the event (twin room, needs 2 people) £90 per person

Please select from Optional Extras at checkout.

Getting there and back

Getting there:

By road: Inverness is situated approx. 158 miles north of Edinburgh, just off the A9.

By public transport: There are regular trains to Inverness from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Check traveline.info for the latest public transport information.

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

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 Inverness

    Arrive at your overnight accommodation in Inverness.

  • Day 2 – Inverness to Culbokie

    Make you way to Inverness Castle and look for the end of the Great Glen Way stone monument. Welcome to the start of the John o’ Groats Trail! You leave Inverness, following the banks of the River Ness towards the Kessock Bridge. After crossing the Kessock Bridge, you head up through the forest, not quite summiting Ord Hill (191m), continuing on through the forest to the village of Munlochy. From here, there is an opportunity to visit the Munlochy Clootie Well before mainly road walking along quiet lanes to Culbokie for your overnight stay.

    25km (15.5 miles), 450m (1476ft) of ascent

  • Day 3 – Culbokie to Alness

    From Culbokie, you will cross the A9 causeway over the Cromarty Firth, with care. Most of the walking will be along quiet roads and cycle paths, through farms, villages and woods. Just past the small village of Evanton, keep looking to your left towards Cnoc Fyrish (453m) for the monument representing the Gate of Negapatam, Madras, India. You continue onward to the town of Alness, where you will stay for the night.

    15km (9 miles), 70m (230ft) of ascent

  • Day 4 – Alness to Tain

    Your walk today will be on a mix of quiet roads and forest trails. Make sure you make the most of the views through the clearings, they are definitely worth it. Keep looking for a barn with a waterwheel when you’ve passed Scotsburn Farm. As you come into the town of Tain, named after the river, that runs through it, enjoy the interesting and unusual buildings and take some time to explore the hidden-away corners.

    21km (13.5 miles), 240m (787ft) of ascent

  • Day 5 – Tain to Dornoch

    Today, your walk will be from Tain, north towards Dornoch. Before you cross the Dornoch Firth Bridge, take the opportunity to visit the Glenmorangie Distillery. Once on the bridge, make the most of the views over the Firth. The day will be spent walking quiet lanes and forestry trails. You will stay in the town of Dornoch for the night, giving an opportunity to enjoy a stroll along the golden sand beaches, a visit to its Cathedral and to learn about the history of the Witch’s Stone.

    14km (9 miles), 70m (230ft) of ascent

  • Day 6 - Dornoch to Golspie

    A cliff top walk or a sandy beach, is the first choice for your walk today before joining the dismantled railway line, bypassing Embo. As you continue following the railway line, keep your eyes open, northwards, for the Duke of Sutherland Monument on Ben Bhraggie (397m). When you get to the road, you will see the remains of Skelbo Castle. The next section takes you along the road, with amazing views across Loch Fleet before picking up the railway line again for a short stretch. Crossing over The Mound, head for Balblair Wood, before arriving at a track signed as ‘Coastal Route to Littleferry’. From here, you head towards Golspie, either through the dunes along the beach or a more inland path. You will spend tonight in Golspie.

    22km (14 miles), 70m (230ft) of ascent

  • Day 7 – Golspie to Brora

    Coastal walking is the order of the day, passing Dunrobin Castle, the ancestral home of Earls and Dukes of Sutherland. This 189 roomed mansion is still inhabited and sections of it date back to 1275. Soon after the castle, you will see the ruin of Dun Liath broch, a well-preserved iron-age structure dating back 2000 years, and with a short detour, can be visited. There are two path options now, but it is easier to keep to the pebbly shore. When you see a grassy path appearing above the shoreline, take that, and you will soon arrive in Brora for your overnight stay.

    10km (6 miles), 60m (197ft) of ascent

  • Day 8 - Brora to Helmsdale

    Another choice awaits you today of path or beach walking, depending on the tide. There will be burns to cross, sometimes by steppingstones, sometimes by bridge and at least one, Loth Burn by wading! The walking underfoot will be rocky and uneven in places and is mostly waymarked into Helmsdale. Tonight, you will stay here.

    20km (12 miles), 190m (623ft) of ascent

  • Day 9 - 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 (ft) of ascent

  • Day 10 - 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 11 - 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 12 - 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 13 - 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 14 - 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 15 - 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

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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