People have been walking the coast for as long as anyone can remember, and over the years many walkers and walking groups have had the idea to build a trail in one form or another. The John o’ Groats Trail started as just one man on a walk in 2014. It has grown from there to be a collective effort of walking groups and individuals, and volunteers of all types. Our most important volunteers are our landowners and tenant farmers along the trail. We have been very fortunate to have great cooperation from landowners and we always do our best to inform them as soon and as much as possible.
Because the trail started as a walk, information about it has been listed online as a walk for several years. However, now that we are taking the next steps and marking it, we are seeking the permission and cooperation of every landowner and tenant farmer along the trail. It’s not an easy job, as there is no public list of landowners. We have to use word of mouth to find everyone, and we talk to everyone personally, by phone or face-to-face. Online information isn’t updated instantly, and if inaccurate information exists about part of the trail, please let us know.
We feel that the trail is beneficial to to everyone along the trail, including landowners, because it has benefit for the local communities and for the Highlands. The economic benefits of developing access to the beauty of the Far North will not only go to the owners and employees of B&Bs, hotels, restaurants, attractions and shops, but also all their neighbours and friends. It will benefit the whole economy. Not to mention that more locals walk the trail than outsiders, so it has a direct recreational benefit to anyone interested in walking and seeing the beauty of the coast.
Many farmers have asked about insurance matters. Our understanding is, insurers have said that access to the public is a fact of life in Scotland due to the Land Reform Act 2003 (Scotland) and the right of access that goes with it. Furthermore, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code calls for landowners to work with local councils and charities to provide for responsible access. Therefore, our understanding is that insurers assume that the public will take access, and that the landowner will work to responsibly provide access. Therefore you are covered under your current policy, and you will continue to be covered as you cooperate with the trail. The only thing insurers will not cover is any effort to obstruct access, which is of course illegal and therefore cannot be insured. Also, we carry insurance that covers the stiles, bridges, and anything else we build, and we retain responsibility for those.
If you have any concerns at any time, before, during, or after any work is done, please get in touch with us. You can use the form on our contact page, or just ring Jay Wilson on 07526 281088. Good landowner relations is vital to us, so please give us the earliest chance to address any concerns.
We would like to make contact with as many local small business owners and commercial enterprises along the trail and in the wider trail communities as possible. One of our goals is to boost the Highland economy by bringing increased walking tourism to the Far North. Please help us by getting in touch. We will in future start listing accommodation and other services on our web site, so if you are interested in such a listing please get in touch now through this web site or on 07526 281088.
We would like to make contact with as many local community groups as possible, including community councils, community development groups, etc., in order to work with you. If we haven’t contacted you yet, please contact us through this web site or on 07526 281088.
We are always looking for new volunteers. We need all kinds of help: physically building the trail (building stiles, bashing whin, building small bridges), walking the trail (to check for problems, to verify maps, and to place markers), and promoting the trail (using Facebook and other social media, designing flyers, updating the web site, writing the newsletter).
To volunteer and be placed on the volunteer email list, please use the contact form or ring Jay on 07526 281088.