Woke up to beautiful blue skies and sun shining into the van, good morning to do some clothes washing by the river! Not much later the weather soon changes and gets a bit colder. Packed up the van and drove back into Helmsdale. Parked up next to a lovely classic white VW and met the couple who were renting it. They were doing the same route as us, the Route 500. Got some essentials from the local shop. People are just so friendly and welcoming up here. Feels just like NZ. Quirky gardens, art and animals sculptured into plants. Set off again heading up the East coast driving past so many old stone houses abandoned in the fields. Weather soon changed again bringing the blue sky and sunshine back out. Stopped in Wick to have a look around, do some op shopping (standard) and found some more CDs for the van. Driving on up we stop again at another beautiful beach with pebbles and white/grey sand. Passed loads of beautiful beaches with clear blue seas and old stone ruins.
Drove all the way up to Duncansby Head lookout to see the Duncansby Stacks housing one of the UKs best seabird colonies. Beautiful lookout over the Orkney Islands where a 5000 year old ancient stone age village was discovered, the Brodgar Temples. The first farmers in Britain arrived here 6000 years ago and was the lead in farm and arts development in the whole of the UK. Before London, it was the ‘Hub’ of the UK. Had an epic lunch here at the lookout before heading onward to John O’ Groats, the Northernmost point in Britain. The ocean at this point moves at some of the fastest speeds to be found anywhere in the world, moving massive boulders along the ocean floor with ease.
We carried on past Dunnet Bay, Castletown and Thurso, stopping along the way. Beautiful rugged beaches and roads lined with yellow gauze. Stopped at Bettyhill lookout, stunning small mountainous hills with small lakes hidden amongst. Drove past Bettyhill and found a lovely spot to park up right next to a small lake, brown hills surrounding us. Caught the last of the sun whilst making dinner. No one around except 2 deer watching us in the distance from the hilltops.
by Julie Faulkner