8/24 – Day 84 – Slickly to John O’Groats

Today’s Statistics
Distance of 9.2 miles for a final total of 1,363.3 miles. Vertical of 357′ for a total of 141,549′
Distance of 14.8 km for a final total of 2,194.0 km. Vertical of 109 m for total of 43,144 m

Before starting out on my last 9 miles I must deal with 14 ticks that I have picked up 2 days ago during the bush-whacking of two days ago between Helmsdale and Dunbeath. The tick tweezers that Ingrid gave me get some good use today as do the antiseptic wipes another hiker gave me a way back in the Cotswolds.

I eat my breakfast of the very best oatcakes I have ever had (I think I told you oatcakes are a minor addiction of mine). Made by Breadshare Community Bakery (www.breadshare.co.uk) they have Seaveg seaweed in them and a delightfully coarse with a real crunch to them. As I am eating I get a good wishes text message from Iona, my younger daughter. I tell her that it will be an easy day with only about 10km to do since I did 50km yesterday. She responds “HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE??? That’s how far I drive my car before I feel I should stop for coffee”. I am in tears of laughter.

It is a gloriously sunny day and Sue, Alan and I walk the final miles, shoot photos and then with Mum & Dad sit and relax over coffee before they treat us to a lovely dinner together.

The walk is over but life is and should be full of adventures. I will take some time with Sue & Alan before going off on my own to start synthesizing some of my thoughts from the walk before Ingrid arrives and we head of to Orkney. I look forward to continuing writing and blogging. A few days ago my uncle, Graham sent me a poem which he thought was very apropos and it really resonates with me.

A Psalm Of Life
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no future, howe’er pleasant!
Let the dead past bury its dead!
Act—act in the living present!
Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.

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10 Responses to “8/24 – Day 84 – Slickly to John O’Groats


    So thrilled for you that you’ve successfully completed your journey, Andrew! Onward to the next challenge!


  • Simon Venn
    1 year ago

    Andrew, your “jog” has been amazing to follow while waiting for my leg to mend. I love the photo of “the feet that did all the work” to say nothing of the boots that went with them every step of the way . . . not so sure about the ticks though, they just came along for the ride!
    The sheer tenacity of your achievement is truly impressive to a casual stroller like me, I am seriously in awe of your achievement.
    Thank you again for being my rescuer so long ago at the beginning of all this, and for writing up your adventure with such an easy, personal style and especially for the magnificent photographs. It’s been great to follow your journey, I feel I know my country better already!
    God bless you my friend, put up those feet for a while and muse happily on all you have gained and shared with us over the past three months.
    I suspect there will be more jogging in the future, but just lie back on your laurels for a moment and know how much amazement and pleasure you have given to the rest of us! . . . and the I’m sure “jog on”!

  • Jacquie Clayton
    1 year ago

    HI Andrew: Such a brilliant accomplishment !! Congratulations !! We had no doubt that you would make it.

    We have greatly enjoyed all the wonderful writings of your day by day accomplishments: the food, the anecdotes, the history, the PICTURES !! (We are a bit behind due to a 2 week kayak trip, but will enjoy getting caught up) Your website was super, and are in awe of your tenacity, and humor through it all.

    TIme for reflexion, and celebration…..you have earned it. Thanks….and best wishes for future plans.

    Jacquie & Tony Clayton

  • John Ferguson
    1 year ago

    A job well done Andrew, to the future.
    Enjoy your quiet time before Ingrid arrives!!!
    Have a great trip to Orkney.
    I have enjoyed your blog immensely.

  • Harley
    1 year ago

    Andrew, congratulations on reaching your goal. I’ve enjoyed reading your updates and because of your pictures have moved Scotland further up the list of places to see. All the best.

  • Congratulations Andrew! What a journey and interesting dialog. Now you will have to write the book!! Well done and much envy ! Hope to see you downunder next?

  • Peter Webb
    1 year ago

    Brilliant work Andrew
    Ditto all of the above
    We were missing the last week of your diary since the Black Isle and wondered if/hoped it was a comms issue.
    I’ll mention the ticks to Aus Quarantine before your next visit Down Under.
    But your trip and especially your Diary was an inspiration.
    Well done again
    Peter & Gill

  • stuart McManus
    1 year ago

    Absolutely fantastic Andrew, and it such good time and well done. The leaking boots seemed to make it along with your feet!

    Hope to meet up with you on your next adventure.

    best regards
    Stuart (Mac) McManus

  • Andrew
    Andy from Day 44 (way, way back on the Pennine Way).

    Congratulations! To be honest I still thought you had a couple of days to go so you must have fairly whizzed through the last few miles (ticks and all).

    A real coincidence seeing PALM OF LIFE up on your website. It is indeed a beautiful poem, and there is a wonderful version of it put to music (with several verses left out, I hasten to add) by Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson (folk artists, daughter and mother respectively), on an album called GIFT. Two of our favourite singers, one of our favourite albums, and one of my favourite eer songs – so much so that I have mentioned to my wife that I might like it played at my funeral (or hers!) but she says I am far too morbid and should not be thinking about such things. But I do have a little list of songs squirreled away for just such an occasion! If I was clever with a computer I would put a link to it and you could listen to it, but I am sure you are capable of finding it yourself.

    In October (when we get back from Canada/USA) I have booked three nights with Angela in The Ramblers Inn at Edale, start of the Pennine Way. I want to walk up KInder Scout with her (but this time a circular route back to Edale). That first day (for Adrian and myself) was the first time we bumped into you.

    Again well done.

  • Hello Andrew

    I feel very privileged to have been able to follow this blog, and in many cases to visualise the places you have written about. Your determination to succeed was evident from the start, an utterly brilliant achievement- well done. Somehow I feel the final picture should be of you, not us. You completed this walk with some company, but mostly alone; however one way or another many of us have felt that we have been with you. Graham’s words are meaningful, and I can understand why they resonate with you, and your philosophy on life.
    Much love- Sue x x

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