Hello Friends of the John o’ Groats Trail,
My apologies for the newsletter silence over the Winter months. It doesn’t mean the group has been inactive! In fact, we’ve had a very successful Winter and have begun the Spring building season already.
There are several topics below. But first let me say, the most important thing is to get out and walk the trail. Spring is here, and I would love to see you out there, or hear from you about your experiences, good or bad. We are getting to the point where most of the trail is walkable. (For exceptions see Walker’s Update below.) The Highland Rangers are leading a series of walks along the Caithness stages of the trail over the Spring and Summer; for details contact the Rangers.
Over the winter we’ve been busy applying for grants and the big news is that we have received grants from several funds. The grants will pay for contractors to help us build stiles and bridges, and an improved web site and a map to promote the trail. We have also received grants from the Caithness and North Sutherland Fund, the Tannach and District Wind Farm Charitable Trust Fund, and from the Your Cash Your Caithness fund. With these funds we can develop and promote the trail in a better way, and we are calling this new approach Phase 2 of the project. Our fencing contractor Far North Fencing was out building stiles for the first time today!
We have also begun fundraising activities to accept donations from individuals. Why is it important to ask for donations when we have grant money? The main reason is that grants are one-time sources that may pay for initial setup and construction, but they generally don’t pay for maintenance. We will need to develop a steady stream of donations, and a reliable group of donors, over the years to keep the trail going. But also, future grant applications will want to see evidence of support from the community in the form of donations. We are now accepting small donation through our new online giving account, a secure and painless way to give:
(myDonate is similar to JustGiving, but takes a much smaller percentage of your donation for itself, only about 15p per donation.) Of course, donations are just one way to be involved, and we understand they are not for everyone. We appreciate your support in whatever way you can give it: volunteer, walker, donor, or just a kind word!
We have already had three volunteer events in March 2017: one near Whaligoe, one near Berriedale, and another on the Black Isle. Our volunteers did many tasks, as usual: whin cutting, stile building, and marker post placement. This allowed us to relocate part of the trail off-road on the Black Isle and to establish marked and walkable routes in the other locations. Even as we contract for some works, volunteers will remain essential to the trail. Volunteers know the trail better, care for the trail more, and form a lasting trail community. They will never go out of “stile”!
We also need volunteers to help organise our lists of landowners and members, to organise events such as landowner and volunteer appreciation events and fundraisers. If you have any free time to give, please get in touch.
For those of you who may like to come out and help build the trail, we have a separate volunteer mailing list. If you would like to be on this, please reply to this email and let me know.
Walkers update: Next stages in works are 8 (Helmsdale-Badbea), 11 (Lybster-Bruan) and 14 (Keiss-Skirza). These are also the roughest areas to walk at the moment. Check stage status pages on our web site. www.jogt.org.uk
Walkers please remember, we are the guests of the landowners. This trail is all due to the goodwill of landowners. Please keep your dog on a short lead or at home. (This is calving season, a very dangerous time to bring your dog with you into a field with cows and calves. Please don’t.) And if you see dead or poorly animals or other issues on a farm, please ring me Jay Wilson on 07526 281088, and I will contact the landowner. Please do not ring the police, unless there is an emergency.
If you know someone who would like to be added to this mailing list, please let me know. If you are a landowner or farmer with questions or concerns, please email or ring me on 07526 281088. As always, thank you for your support!