Hello Friends of the John o’ Groats Trail,
My apologies for the delay in producing another newsletter. We’ve been so busy working there hasn’t been a pause to reflect. Now that I can catch my breath, I can report that in just the few short months since we had our launch in May, we’ve built over 25 miles of trail! We’ve done this with a dedicated and resourceful team of volunteers, including volunteer landowners.
The stages Brora-Helmsdale and Dunbeath-Lybster are mostly completed and can be walked! See details below in “Walkers Update.”
We had a total of 10 pre-planned volunteer days this spring/summer, including 2 days where we were joined by the Caithness Countryside Volunteers, organised by the Highland Countryside Rangers. Thanks to all our volunteers, we have made and continue to make incredible progress.
Recently our volunteers have begun to act on their own, working in small groups to complete projects such as building stiles, marking, and reconnoitring. Our Wick group, led by Charlie Bain with Derek Bremner and Donna Simpson and nicknamed the Boiler-Suit Gang, has built several stiles and marked nearly 2 miles of trail in September.
We also need volunteers who can improve our web site and Facebook page, apply for grants, help with the newsletter, and do other “indoor” tasks. We would also like to start developing leaflets for the individual stages, and people with local knowledge of historic and natural heritage sites could be very helpful.
If you would like to join in with any of our volunteer efforts, or know anyone who would, please send me an email at email@example.com or ring me at 07526 281088.
In exciting news, Andy Robinson, author of the Cicerone guidebook The End to End Trail, has contacted me and we are working on a guidebook for the John o’ Groats Trail. We’re not sure when it will be finished, and will be a work in progress as the trail itself keeps changing and improving, but this will be a big step in the life of the JOGT.
We have also been contacted by a walks blogger, and Harvey Maps is interested in adding the JOGT to their Trail Maps series. We’ve had articles run in/on BBC Scotland Radio, Inverness Courier, JOG Journal, The Times (Scotland), and the Financial Times (forthcoming).
We’ve also been granted Scottish charity status (Charity # SC046737) and have applied for a bank account. Each charity must have a board of trustees, and we are very lucky to have four dedicated and talented people on our board (plus me!). These are (with apologies in advance for misspellings and other mistakes):
If you are interested in being an active member of the board if trustees, please get in touch and let’s talk. There’s so much to do, your initiative would make a huge difference.
The following stages are nearly complete and can now be walked with minimal inconvenience: 7: Brora-Helmsdale and 10: Dunbeath-Lybster. Stage 7 you will need a map or description from our web site for the last couple miles to Helmsdale. Stage 10 you will still need to cross three barbed wire fences.
We are actively working on stages 12: Whaligoe-Wick, and 13: Wick-Reiss. When these are nearly completed, we will begin to work on other stages. Our goal is to have all of the JOGT in an “improved state” by Spring 2017 so that more people may begin to enjoy the trail. In Spring 2018 we hope to hold a grand opening of a 99% completed trail. Keep checking the web site www.jogt.org.uk for updates.
Our success so far is due in large part to the trust we have developed with landowners and tenant farmers and the very helpful responses we have got from almost all the people we have contacted. If you know landowners or tenants who hold land along the coast, please help me get in touch with them. We are particularly interested in making contacts along the following stages now: Berriedale-Dunbeath, Lybster-Whaligoe and Keiss-JOG.
If you have any suggestions or questions, please get in touch.
All the best,
Hi all Friends of the John o’ Groats Trail,
Happy New Year to all Friends of the John o’Groats Trail!
Christmas 2015 Message / Newsletter vol. 1 no. 2
Happy Christmas to all!
The year 2015 has seen great strides in developing the John o’Groats Trail (JOGT). I try to hit the biggest highlights here, but the greatest moments of the year for me have been meeting you, the people who are helping bring this together with your interest and support. You’ve walked with me, welcomed me into your homes, and given me encouragement when it was needed most.
We now have a web site at jogt.org.uk and the JOGT is listed as a Virtual Trail by the Highland Rangers. The web site now shows our growing support by walking groups as well as businesses and community groups in the region. If you know of a business that would like to be listed, please refer them.
We have walks planned for 2016 and soon there will be volunteer days planned. Volunteer events will include stile-building and brash-cutting. If you are interested in volunteering to help build the trail, or for anything else, please get in touch.
Over the winter months, I’ve begun contacting landowners and tenant crofters to get permission to improve the trail on their land. If anyone would like to help or knows any landowners along the coast, please let me know. The contact I’ve had so far has been encouraging, even gratifying.
One of our business supporters, Colourflow-Images of Helmsdale, has graciously donated several high-quality wildlife photos for the web site. If you haven’t seen these, be sure to take a look.
You can now view the entire detailed route of the trail through links from the web site. Currently these link to walk descriptions and maps on walkhighlands.com, but in future I hope to have interactive maps of the Trail on the web site itself.
After the holidays, the New Year will see a flurry of planning in January for my February trip to the Highlands (dates approximately 6 to 22). Two walks are planned for February (see web site Events) and I hope to see you while I’m “in the neighbourhood.”
I will keep this short(er) as I know everyone is busy this time of year. I hope to see you all in February!
Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2016!