Day 5 meant the splitting of our group. Some of our group mates were only doing a 5 day tour, so they were heading back to Edinburgh today, while we continued on our 10 day tour with a new group and our new tour guide – Andy. It’s funny how much you get to know someone when you’re travelling and adventuring with them and spending time together pretty much 24/7. This was especially true for our friend V, because we had done our 7 day Shamrocker tour with her as well, prior to this tour of Scotland. Lots of photographs, inside jokes and memories with this one! Since NZ is on our bucket list, we’ll have to drop in on V and ask her to be our personal tour guide for our visit! And of course – we can’t wait to play tour guide to V when she comes to visit us in Vancouver – we’ll be sure to include lots of opportunities for adventures, exploring and gazing! 😋
After saying our goodbyes, we loaded our bags onto a new bus – gasp! We are such creatures of habit. 😅 We had only spent 4 days on our first bus and we had already gotten so used to our seats, our view and everything. It was a bit strange getting onto a new bus and finding new seats!
After we were all settled, we headed out of Inverness.
Heading out early does have its perks! We caught a beautiful sunrise – one that made Andy pull over to the side of the road so we could all pile out of the bus and admire it.
It just made me breathe and want to stay in that moment forever.
After a peaceful moment of admiring the sunrise, we were back on the road watching the scenery fly past us. Who knew there were picturesque fields like these in Scotland!?
Eventually we reached the northernmost area of the Scottish and British mainland – the area around John O’Groats.
John O’Groats is considered to be the most north-easterly inhabited point on the British mainland. It is also famous for being part of the Land’s End to John O’Groats journey. Many people will make these “End to End” Journeys – traversing the UK mainland, from the most south-westerly point of Land’s End in Cornwall to this most north-easterly point of John O’Groats.
Instead of stopping at John O’Groats, we continued a couple more kilometers north to our first scheduled stop of the day – Duncansby Head.
Hopping out of the bus, it was nice to stretch our legs with a wee walk. This was one of the many walks that we would go on with Andy. Although this was a short walk, we had plenty of time to explore and take photographs.
Duncansby Head is marked by its lighthouse, which was built in 1924.
Walking past the lighthouse, we headed towards the Duncansby Stacks.
The journey to our destination was almost as beautiful as the Stacks themselves – tranquil yet wild.
You might be wondering… stacks of what?! The Stacks of Duncansby are actually sea stacks – coastal geological landforms that are shaped by the processes of erosion.
Check out the gorgeous scenery – it almost doesn’t look real! Plus, it seemed like this beautiful area is still a little bit off the beaten path and there weren’t throngs of tourists crowding around. We had this beautiful view pretty much all to ourselves!
Geology and landscapes fascinate me! It’s amazing to think about the forces of nature, the power and the time that it took to shape this coastline. I’m no geologist, but a quick google search tells me that crashing waves power their way through the headlands – first creating small cracks, then bigger caves, then all the way through the rock and creating arches. With further erosion by water and by wind, the arch can collapse into the sea, leaving behind these spectacular columns or stacks. Take a look at the next photograph – can you spot the little arch that is beginning to form? (It’s towards the middle of the photograph.) It will be interesting to see if this turns into the another Stack of Duncansby in the years to come!
Duncansby Head also has one other claim to fame. Remember the Land’s End to John O’Groats journey we were talking about earlier? Well, some people actually consider Duncansby Head to be “the end of the road” since it is a couple kilometers down the road past John O’Groats. Thus, technically making it the furthest location by road from Land’s End in Cornwall. So how do you decide where to stop at, on the end of your “End to End” journey?
To make it more simple, we recommend stopping at Duncansby Head for a wee walk to see the sea stacks and also stopping at the village of John O’Groats to take a photograph with this iconic sign post.
After our photographs with the iconic sign post, we wandered down to the harbour. We caught sight of the restored Inn at John O’Groats.
I love the splashes of colour on those buildings!
And just in case you forget where you are, there is a little reminder down by the harbour.
After exploring the harbour, we popped into some of the shops and had a poke around. I picked up one of my favourite souvenirs of this trip here! It’s a little book called “The Wit and Wisdom of Highland Cows“. And let me tell you – they are very wise indeed! Highly recommended for a bit of thinking and a chuckle 😋
Eventually, it was time to head to the ferry terminal. We, and our yellow bus, boarded the ferry and set sail for the Orkney Islands! Stay tuned for our Orcadian adventures in our next few blog posts! There’ll be more wee walks, epic scenery, history, archaeology and, of course, exploring and adventures!
From Vancouver with Love,
Ioana and Natalie
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