I'll start this this one at the end. I'm sitting downstairs in the campervan while Jane is having little luck at persuading the little ones to go to sleep. I had been outside enjoying the beautiful sunset looking across the sea to Orkney.
The lack of wind has encouraged a few midgies to come out. They don't hurt (yet) but they do irritate, although don't come close to putting a dampener on a wonderful day.
We awoke to find the wind and rain that was the tail end of storm Francis had moved on. The air was still and the sun was starting to poke through the thin clouds and brighten the sky. Having remembered to actually pick up some milk yesterday, breakfast was not a Clif bar but a proper bowl of granola. Campervanning really is the best bits of of camping and caravanning mixed together (I assume anyway, I haven't done much of either 😂). No cold wet tents to deal with, electrics and a fridge and you can move on whenever you like and don't take up loads of room. Winning all round.
We knew we had some time to spare before Dunrobin Castle opened (the kids were up at 6 so no worries there 🤦🏻♂️), a quick Google suggested that the "Big Burn Walk" was a hidden gem in Golspie and what better way to start the day then a nice walk to see a waterfall. Turns out that it really is a hidden gem and anyone who happens to be visiting should take half an hour out of their day to do it. It's a lovely walk through a shallow, jagged, rock valley criss-crossed with bridges leading to a very pretty waterfall. It reminded us both of a similar walk we did on Koh Samui in Thailand, only with better signage and colder weather.
We timed it pretty much perfectly and arrived at Dunrobin Castle just after 10. It's a very grand stately home that for a time was a boarding school (1965-72). To be honest I was more interested in that period than of the different earls and dukes who lived there. The gardens were impressive and they had a live falconry display which was great.
Lunch in the van then time to venture northward again, heading for John O'Groats via Wick. The scenery up the North East coast of Scotland is grand. The rugged coastline, the sweeping fields of heather across the hills, invigorating.
On the drive up to Wick Jane had found an advert in a booklet we'd picked up for an artisan chocolatier, I don't need any excuses to go chocolate sampling so that sounded like a great idea. After arriving at the address given and finding it was a normal house in a normal street it turns out that they are an online only business. Why you would advertise and give your address in a tourist booklet I can't imagine 🤷🏻♂️
Not ones to be discouraged we knew that Wick also had the ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe and set off to explore. This castle must have been quite a sight in its day. Built almost entirely on an outcrop of rock the ruins still cut an impressive figure.
I don't imagine it would have been a particularly fun place to live though; salty spray, howling winds, crashing waves, and that's just the summer 😂
Realising we wouldn't have time to complete everything on today's schedule before we had to check in to our campsite we went on John O'Groats stopping in at Puffin Croft Farm where they had a little petting zoo, although in these times more of a looking and feeding zoo. The children still had a great time though, Liliya thought it was hilarious when the goats and tiny Shetland pony ate the carrot off her hands.
Around the corner and we came to the sign.
John O'Groats being one end of the longest distance between two inhabited places on the British mainland. As is our tradition we acquired a new bauble for our Christmas tree to commemorate our visit (we're probably not far off needing another tree to hold all the different decorations we've collected on our travels).
A few miles west and we arrived at Windhaven, our campsite for the night, taking full advantage of the facilities to have a nice warm shower before the children went to bed. Back at the end now and ultimately I had to go upstairs and lie with Liliya until she went to sleep. Hugs with my baby girl, not a bad way to finish the day.