I’ve been up here several times before…
First in 2008 with Eddy when we did our big Scotland tour on the motorbikes. We happened across a motorbike rally called the “Wildcats” being held in the local school hall. We stayed an extra day and won “Furthest Travelled” to the event.
Then again in 2009 with Mum, Dad and David on our motorbikes. Mum was in the car and went directly between campsites and set up, while we took the interesting routes along the coast. I had only just got the Versys and was having a great time blasting around on my new toy.
Then there was the infamous “Break Down” trip of 2014. I was biking with Stephen and had gotten a bit under the weather for some reason. Running with the heated grips on to stave off the cold I was feeling, it put too much strain on the stator of the bike and it melted. It stopped charging the battery and when that ran out, the Versys was going nowhere. A new one would be 5 days and an extortionate amount of money, so it was on the back of a truck for me and my bike. I was from LITERALLY at the top of Scotland, and got shuttled all the way back to Banbury. I didn’t make it to JoG that year, but Stephen did, so as a team, I’m claiming we made it.
The last time I was here was in the campervan with Angus. We spent a memorable week tooling around in the van, stopping in laybys and seeing the scenery. The main purpose of the trip was to do Ben Nevis, see the NC500, get to JoG and see Lou who had recently started as a firefighter in Inverness. Ah, Inverness, that was a good and unexpected night out!
I was in the campervan again, but this time with Aimi and the goals were much the same, but we had brought mountain bikes and a little dog too. John’O’Groats was the main target for today and by lunch time we had arrived. I was in awe of how much had changed since I first came here. The tumbledown hotel was now renovated and had several large colourful extensions. The carpark now cost £2 no matter how long you stayed. The little shack with a guy who put the distance of your home town on the JoG signpost and took your picture was gone, replaced with a static sign. There was a big, bendy sculpture. Several shops were here now instead of just 2 and a burger van. And, most vexingly, the toilets charged 40p to use. Sure for a sit-down-wee I’d pay to have it flushed away because I am sure to get my 40p worth, but as a bloke, it’s just not worth it for a stand-up-wee.
We had some sandwiches and then got both an ice-cream and a hot coffee. It was one of those days where the wind was cold but the sun was hot. After cooling down/warming up we went for a stroll along the stony beach. In all the times I had been here, this was not something I had ever done, because honestly, every other time I had been here I think it was either too cold, or I didn’t fancy a romantic walk with my relatives or a bloke. We walked along with Kayto and enjoyed the pastel colours of the rocks. It was a really beautiful pallet and the cheapskate part of me wanted to scoop a load up for free and take them home, while the practical and lazy part of me decided that was a lot of effort and I didn’t want to fill my mobile-home with a load of aggregate.
Once we had stopped by the gif shops and microbrewery and picked up a few trinkets, Aimi started the drive south. All the single track roads where gone so I trusted her to pilot Bertie without issue. We made it to our next AirBnb just as the sun was setting. A nice little barn conversion into an open plan ½ (half) bedroom house. I say half because the double bed was in the roof eves and you could only crawl up there. But it was cute and very rustic with all the modern comforts you would need. We set a fire, cooked some dinner and enjoyed relaxing on a really comfortable couch.