Achastle Fishery Ruin

The Friends of the John o’ Groats Trail has charity status and is a coalition of walking groups and other community organisations, listed below.  We are also a membership group; to become a member please use the contact form or see here for more details.

Our goal is to develop the Trail through volunteer efforts and community support, in order to improve walking access for the community as well as develop the local tourism economy by opening the trail to long-distance walkers.

We do business as Friends of the John o’ Groats Trail, but legally speaking we are the Association of Northern Trails Scotland, a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO), and we have been given charity number SC049061 by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. The executive committee of the association currently consists of:

Chair | Jay Wilson

Based in Berriedale. Jay enjoys long-distance walking and is inspired by the Appalachian Trail that goes through his native Virginia. He has walked the John o’ Groats Trail twice and some of it multiple times.
Secretary | John Whitfield

Recently retired from the B&B business, John lives just south of Helmsdale and is active in the community there. Email John at: secretary@jogt.org.uk
Treasurer | Brian Dickson

Brian, from Fortrose, retired from NatureScot in 2022, and spends much of his time walking – and especially enjoys long-distance walking Trails, and so was the perfect fit for a trustee. It’s really great to have someone from ‘further south’ on the Trail, as we want our board to reflect the Trail, and to better understand the issues and challenges we face. He’s also a warden for Culbokie to Inverness, and has helped to place markers, clear vegetation, landscape paths and erect a stile on the route.
Trustee | Catherine MacLeod

Based in Thrumster. She runs Thrumster House B&B and cottages with her mother Islay MacLeod and she is on the board of Venture North, a tourism initiative.
Trustee | Charlie Bain

Based in Wick. Charlie is an avid walker, having trekked several times in the Alps and the Himalayas. He is involved with Wick Paths Group and Wick Riverside Volunteers. He has completed 2 TGO Coast to Coast challenges. He has built more stiles on the JOGT than anyone else.
Trustee | Matthew Reiss

Based in Thurso. A keen walker and also general interest in environmental matters. Formerly a North Highland Police Officer and now represents the Thurso and NW Caithness Ward area as a Councillor.
Trustee | Patricia Pearl

Patricia Pearl lives in England and walked the Trail in 2020 to complete her Lands End to John O’ Groats walk. Patricia is keen to promote contact with those Friends who live at home and abroad who have walked the Trail and want to keep in touch. Email Patricia at: keepintouch@jogt.org.uk
Trustee | David Worthington

David Worthington is the Head of the UHI Centre for History, which has been based in Dornoch since its founding in 2005. He is an historian of Scottish (and wider British and Irish) connections with central Europe (c.1500-c.1700). He teaches, researches and publishes also on the history of northern Scotland from within a coastal history context and, outwith the university, is committed to collaborating with communities engaged with the past across the Highlands and Islands and beyond. David started work at the Centre in 2008 and has been its head since 2011. He was awarded a professorship in 2020
Trustee | Liza Gordon

Liza is the Development Officer for Dunbeath Heritage Museum, Liza is responsible for recruiting and support volunteers as well as develop an implement a sustainable strategy for the DPT. She’s a proud Caithnessian, too, and so having her insight into the east coast of Caithness will be invaluable.
Trustee | Sally Crowe

I’m Sally, a crofter from Keiss. I love being out in nature and enjoying all that the Caithness coast had to offer. I joined ANTS as I feel its important that local land owners get behind the trail, to help others enjoy what we are privileged to see daily. I’m delighted to be involved in a small way in a trail that equals the best in the world.
Trustee | Simon Cottam

Along with Andrew Mowat, Simon is a partner in the John o’ Groats Brewery and on the board of the John o’ Groats Development Trust. He also works at Dounreay.
Trustee | Ian Ellis

The originator of the North Coast Trail, Ian lives in Thurso.

Sea Stack near Lybster

In addition to our trustees, we also have some key volunteer posts:

  • JOGT Photographer: Derek Bremner. Based in Wick. Derek is an avid photographer and keen walker. He is a regular contributor of photos to several local websites and keeps us supplied with fresh images of the trail.
  • JOGT Mapmaker: Andy Robinson. Based in Cheshire. Andy is the author of the Cicerone book The End to End Trail and is currently working on a guide to the John o’ Groats Trail with Jay Wilson.

You can find a list of our supporters on the links page.

Patron | Maree Todd

Maree Todd is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician who has been the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross since May 2021. She was previously an MSP for the Highlands and Islands from the election in May 2016. She has served as the Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport since May 2021, having previously been the Minister for Children and Young People from 2017 to 2021.
Patron | John Thurso

John Archibald Sinclair, 3rd Viscount Thurso PC (born 10 September 1953), known also as John Thurso, is a Scottish businessman, Liberal Democrat politician and hereditary peer who is notable for having served in the House of Lords both before and after a period in the House of Commons.

Born to the Sinclair family, Lord Thurso was educated at Eton College before entering management roles in the tourism and hospitality industry. He first joined Parliament in the House of Lords as a hereditary peer in 1995 and served until 1999, when he was among the majority of hereditary peers who were removed from Parliament following the House of Lords Act 1999.

Thurso was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross at the 2001 general election, becoming the fifth generation of the Sinclair family to represent the Caithness area in the House of Commons. He held the seat until he was defeated at the 2015 general election by the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate, Paul Monaghan. During his time serving in the Commons, Lord Thurso was chair of the Finance and Services Committee from 2010 to 2015. In 2016, Thurso returned to the House of Lords after winning a by-election to fill a vacancy among the remaining Liberal Democrat hereditary peers. He became chair of VisitScotland in 2016 and later became Lord Lieutenant of Caithness in 2017.

Patron | Jamie Stone

James Hume Walter Miéville Stone (born 16 June 1954) is a Scottish Liberal Democrat politician, representing the constituency of Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, the northernmost mainland British constituency and one of the largest by area, since 2017.

He was a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the constituency of Caithness, Sutherland, and Easter Ross. He held the seat from the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, until he stood down in 2011. He served as the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Defence from 2019 to 2022 and has served as Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport since September 2020.