Persistent rain, heavy at times, will be accompanied by strong to gale force winds with a risk of severe gales in the most exposed areas.
What the forecast doesn’t report is the unseasonably cold temperature which accompanied the gale force wind and rain. With no refuge between Watten and JOG, I concluded that attempting to walk 20 miles in those conditions would be foolhardy. The risk of hypothermia was far too great.
I arranged for a ride from Watten to the Sea View Hotel in JOG. We drove along the same route I was to have walked. At one point, a downed tree partially blocked the road, but we were able to navigate around it. The road was heavily flooded in at least a half dozen places. Small Loch Watten had white caps and 18 inch waves.
I browsed through the shops, took a few pictures, and had a cappuccino at the coffee bar. I then walked back to the Sea View, fighting the wind and rain all the way. I was very cold when I reached the hotel again. I could not have walked from Watten today.
Being a highly-trained mountaineer, I’ve developed a sense of when to abort a climb and abandon the summit. That sense came in handy today. I don’t want to be overly dramatic and say that my good judgment saved my life, but it certainly saved me the embarrassment of having to be rescued due to a bad decision.
Just as nature heralds the end of summer in Scotland, my arrival at John O’Groats tolls the end of my 1200 mile summer. For the past year and a half, I have shared my anticipation, disappointments, challenges, joys and sorrow. We have shared new friendships, and re-bonded with old ones. I have tried not to dwell on the hardships, suffering and occasional exhaustion, because we all have enough negatives in our daily lives – but they were surely present more often than I like to admit.
The sun will rise again tomorrow here in Scotland, but my blog will not. My 1200 mile summer is finished, and it’s time to move on.
Thank you for following and supporting me along the way. Good-bye for now.
© 2011 Ken Klug