Day Eighteen: Rogart to John O’Groats

The whole journey I have wanted to ride a sleeper train. The idea of going to sleep on a train in a moving bed just seems such a romantic notion to me.  I didn’t get to ride a sleeper train but what I did get was even better. I slept in a converted railway carriage. It was bloody brilliant, I was like a school kid on a trip to Jodrell Bank- a rather geeky school kid that is. There were little carriages with bunk beds and train seats with heaters under them. There was even a kitchen, dining room and living room neatly set in their own compartments.

On the bus out of Rogart I felt really sad all of a sudden like I was being pulled towards a destination that I wasn’t yet ready to arrive at, despite the fact that it was the place that we’d been heading to the entire time. I drew signs the entire bus journey.

POPPY’S COFFEE SHOP

HASTE YE BACK- Thanks for driving carefully

Passenger notice- Please note that no take away food or hot drinks are allowed on the bus.

PASSING PLACE

The old school house

Welcome to Port Gower

John O’Groats 66

We arrived into Helmsdale with no plan and no idea how to get out. We met two wonderful characters, Valerie and Ann who pointed us in the direction of the harbour suggesting that we might hitch a life on a boat to John O’Groats. We liked this idea and pottered down to the harbour full of hopes and dreams of rainbow fish and talking octopuses.

‘It wood tek ye a whole dey te sail te John e Groots it would’

Bugger. Right, get out the cardboard, get out the marker pen and we’ll do it The Gramophones way.

NORTH (please)

We were picked up after what felt like several hours by a couple abroad on holiday (they were English but lived in France). Joking about wanting a baby highland cow as a pet but agreeing that it might exceed the luggage allowance. Finally agreeing that if they wanted a highland cow as a pet they could probably get one in France, they dropped us off in Wick where we were so close to our destination. We are not leaving Wick till we have found an utterly new and exciting form of transport! Okay? OKAY!

Several ideas were thrown around and suddenly as if by lightning ‘The John O’Groats Journal’. In we go, chat to a journalist and get a number for Deisel Dan. After several confused phone calls, lots of laughter, ‘Is this a wind up?’ it was on. Our final lift! Dan first took us to his home, he wanted us to meet his wife Dolina. He showed us his all American truck which unfortunately wasn’t the one we were going to ride on as it had just been polished. Dan had an huge love of Elvis and had not only painted him on his truck he had also painted him on his back. He hitched up his shirt to show us his Elvis tattoo. I felt like Louis Theroux on a weird weekend.

Dan took us to John O’Groats in an equally cool truck, we were riding high for our final arrival at the end. We jumped out of the truck cheering and laughing celebrating, soon met with the reality of a car park, half built visitors centre and black murky sea. But we weren’t disheartened we had finally made it and what an adventure it had been.

As it got dark we flew a kite and lit sparklers speaking our thanks to the sea.

Thanks for making this journey possible.

Woooshhhh crashhhhh wooossshhh said the sea, we interpreted this as…You’re welcome.

Hannah

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