Obstacles and Alternates

There are five obstacles along the JoGT worth mentioning before you tackle the trail, and 3 alternate routes that help you if you choose to go round them. These obstacles are on stages 7, 10, 11, and 13. The obstacles on stages 7 and 13 are watercourses that can be dangerous under flood conditions, while the ones on stages 10 and 11 are unmarked and unimproved sections of trail. Unfortunately, the three alternate routes require some road walking. However, we have mapped and partially marked these alternates for those walkers who would rather avoid the obstacles mentioned above.

Loth Burn Alternate

This alternate is on stage 7 and is to be used in case the Loth Burn is swollen and uncrossable. This can happen at a spring high tide or when the burn is in spate after heavy rains. This alternate adds about 1 mile/1.6 km of walking and requires 1 mile/1.6 km of road walking (with a verge).

Northbound: Upon finding the burn impassable, backtrack along the trail (through the fields) about a half mile/700 metres and find the nearest private level crossing of the railway. Cross the railway with caution and continue along a good track, after a few minutes passing through a farmyard. Continue up to the A9, passing through or over several gates along the way. Turn right on the A9 and continue about 1 mile/1.5 km before taking a right on the minor road marked for Crakaig Campsite. Walk down the road, passing under the railway, continue to follow the main track as it curves round and eventually heads for the coast, where it rejoins the main JoGT.

Southbound: Upon finding the burn impassable, backtrack to the campsite and take the nearest track inland and follow it to a tunnel under the railway. Continue up to the A9 on a tarmac road and take a left, following the A9 for about 1 mile/1.5 km, crossing a bridge over the burn. Continue to where a road sign indicates “Glen Loth” to the right, and a small parallel side road forms on the left, and take that side road ahead through a gate and down through a farmyard. Continue on the track, taking a right turning, then the track curves left and down towards a railway level crossing. Cross carefully, and then once through, resume the main JoGT.

Laidhay Alternate

This alternate is on stage 10 and can be used to avoid three large fields where the trail is unmarked and cattle are often present. This alternate only adds 100-200 metres walking but does require around 700 metres of road walking (with a verge).

Northbound: Approximately 1.5 miles/2 km north of Dunbeath you will find yourself walking next to a deer fence on your right. Continue uphill along the deer fence, and as the trail starts to level out and you start to see a view ahead of you, you’ll see an alternate route marker pointing you to the left on a diagonal up across the hillside. Follow that direction, past a pile of stones, and head for a large stile over a double fence. Continue over another double fence stile and then take a diagonal towards the left across that field. Cross one more stile, go up to the A9, turn right and walk along it for about a half mile or 700 metres. While still walking the A9, a stony embankment will rise on your right. After the embankment, at a marker post, turn right off the A9 and head towards the sea and turn right (backtracking slightly) along a sunken deer fence. Follow the deer fence around a corner and downhill between the fence and a stone wall, finally rejoining the main JoGT at a stile.

Southbound: After Latheronwheel Harbour and the old stone bridge, you’ll find yourself walking outside a deer fence for some distance. At the end of the deer fence, turn uphill over a stile and ascend steeply between the deer fence and a stone wall. Turn right at the top corner of the deer fence and continue between fence and stone wall embankment until there is a way up at a marker. Head for the road and turn left and walk about a half mile or 700 metres until you see markers on the left. Follow these over a series of stiles back to the main JoGT.

[Laidhay Map]

[Laidhay Alternate gpx]

Mid-Clyth Unmarked fields

There are two places where stiles and markers give out toward the north end of stage 11, at Mid-Clyth and just further north at Bruan. This will require the crossing of some low barbed wire fences. Unfortunately no suitable alternate route exists for these, so the best thing is to be prepared. There is a single GPX file for both Mid-Clyth and Bruan because they are so close to one another.

Northbound: Approximately 1 mile/1.5 km north of the Clythness Lighthouse, after crossing the neck of Halberry Head, there are two small bridges in quick succession. Use these bridges to continue outside the fence. After a minute, cross a stile and continue along the inside of the fence. Ignore the next stile and continue inside. You will then need to cross three low fences to continue inside the fields over the next 600 metres or so. Eventually you encounter a stile and markers again. Continue inside fields for 2/3 mile/1000 metres or more, following markers and crossing stiles, and eventually pass through a thick section of gorse for a minute or two. Then see Bruan Unmarked Field below.

Southbound: After the gorse, follow markers through fields and use stiles to cross two burns for approximately 2/3 mile/1000 metres. Staying inside fields, eventually you’ll find a fence with no stile. Cross the barbed wire here carefully, then cross two more low barbed wire fences, staying inside the fenced fields away from the high cliffs. Eventually after about 600 metres, you find a stile. Don’t use it, but continue to the next one, and go outside the fence there to continue south on marked trail.

[Mid-Clyth Map]

[Mid-clyth gpx]

Bruan Unmarked Field

Northbound: After the gorse, you will come close to the A9, with a roofless church nearby. Still in the field, at a marker post, the next fence crossing has no stile. There is a rusty old small gate and just to the left of the gate is a section of fence that has been crushed down. You should be able to cross at the gate or at the crushed fence. Then continue downhill on a diagonal looking for the far lower corner of this field. Coming close to the corner, aim just to the left and cross the fence at a low spot with a helping stepping stone. After that, continue ahead on the level, past a pile of stones, and turn right down a track that runs on a diagonal towards another field corner, where you will again see stiles and markers.

Southbound: Approximately 10 minutes after leaving Whaligoe Steps, markers and stiles will give out at a low barbed wire fence. There is a good place to cross where stones have been arranged to help walkers, and the fence post has a white spot. Cross here and continue up across the field on a diagonal, getting close to but not onto the A9. At the upper corner of the field, cross at a small rusty gate with a marker post just beyond it, or at the very corner where the fence has been crushed down. Once over into the next field, head left and follow the fence line and markers through gorse. After the gorse, see Mid-Clyth Unmarked Fields above.

[Bruan Map]

[Mid-clyth gpx]

River of Wester Alternate

This river is on stage 13 and can be fast flowing and over waist deep depending on tides and recent rains. This alternate is also covered in the Cicerone guidebook, and adds 1.5 miles/2 km of walking, and requires about 1 mile/1.6 km of road walking (with a verge).

Northbound: After passing the length of the golf course and the parallel dunes, the river is just at the end of the dunes. If the river is impassable, take a left around or over the end of the dunes and continue on a line towards the farm in the distance (Quoys of Reiss farm on maps). After a minute you will come to a footbridge, then continue following “alternate” markers towards the farm, crossing two fairways, then another bridge, and then a stile over a fence to leave the golf course. Continue on a straight line up through a field and then along a track up to the A9. Turn right and walk approximately 1 mile along the A9, finally crossing the river on a bridge. Continue another 200 metres to the entrance of the Subsea 7 site, turn right and walk along the tarmac road towards the site. Before reaching the gatehouse, turn left through a gate into a field and use the map and GPX file below and any markers in the field to find your way back to the main trail. There is a gap in the dunes that allows access to the beach. Continue north either on the beach or in the dunes.

Southbound: South of Keiss you can walk the dunes or stay on the beach. Eventually you’ll need to descend to the beach to cross the River of Wester, but you may find the river uncrossable. If so, backtrack along the beach approximately 2/3 mile/1 km to a gap in the dunes, and follow markers or the GPX file through the dunes to a field and then to a tarmac access road. Turn right on the access road up to the A9, and go left on the A9 for about 1 mile/1.5 km. Before you reach the farm on the left, go left over a gate, following “alternate” markers down a track, continuing across a field and over a fence to the golf course. Continue crossing a bridge, two fairways, and another bridge to get back to the coast, and resume walking south either on the ridge of the dunes or on the beach.

[Wester Map here.]

[Wester gpx]