Hello Friends of the John o’ Groats Trail,
I hope you are all enjoying your summer. I recently returned from a walking trip in the Alps, and next week I’ll leave for the States to see the total eclipse on 21 August and to see my mum.
We continue to make great progress. In fact, after volunteer works and contractor works in the Spring, we have now completed the main stile-building and marker-post installation on two more stages: Helmsdale to Berriedale and Lybster to Whaligoe, representing the last major stile-building campaigns. We still have a lot of markers to install. For one thing, we have received approval of markers in Forestry Commission Scotland woodlands that we use in the southern stages to get people off-road. Additionally, we are seeking permission from the council highways department to place marker posts along minor roads. These permissions will mean we will be seeking more volunteers in the southern areas closer to Inverness, the Black Isle, and up to Tain in coming months to help install these posts. (Hint hint!) A big thank you to all our volunteers!
We had many people walking the trail route, unfinished as it is, this spring. One walker, who walked all the way from Land’s End to JoG, had this to say about the JOGT: “Unquestionably among the highlights of my entire 11 weeks walking. “It is a wonderful taste of wild walking with exceptional wildlife, varied landscapes, superb rock scenery and an almost unrivalled amount of historic interest. Walking many of the legs gave me a chance to finish my long walk in style, and I am incredibly grateful for that – and to you and the JoG Trail team for weaving together what is already a breathtaking walk.” -David from Cumbria
The trail is now in a state where it is very walkable in the spring, April-June. Some sections are difficult in the summer with the grass and bracken getting high. We hope that increased trail use will wear down this vegetation and extend the best walking season. I was with the Highland Rangers walk this past Sunday from Whaligoe to Wick, and most of that stage now has a worn path to follow, making the walking much easier even this time of year.
A big thank you to all those who have donated various amounts, all of them very generous and very much appreciated. We continue to look for ways to establish a steady donation income. This will be important in future years to be independent of grant funding. Remember the easiest way to donate is through our online giving page: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/friendsofthejohnogroatstrail
We have purchased insurance to cover our volunteers and also public liability for the stiles and bridges we build.
We are also working on a new web site, a Harvey Map, and a guidebook co-written by myself and Andy Robinson, the author who wrote the Cicerone guide to walking End-to-End. We continue to aim for a grand opening in Spring 2018.
We appreciate any and all support we get from you, whether it be monetary, volunteer work, or just saying nice things about us on facebook or word of mouth. We especially appreciate the continued support of the landowners along the route, without which the trail would not be possible. The Trail is a community project and needs as much support from the community as possible, meaning the local community as well as the wider trail user community. Thank you!