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NC500 by NC700: Thursday 08/09

Howard had been complaining all week about having to visit John O'Groats: apparently it was a bleak wasteland, and not even the most northerly point of mainland UK, because that's nearby Dunnet Head.

So we went to Dunnet Head first.

On the way, I stopped off at Dunnet Bay Distillers. The distillery is small, clean and bright, the Rock Rose gin delicious (I tried the 57% Navy Strength, at ten in the morning), and the locally sourced botanicals read like a list of minor Watership Down characters: Juniper, Rowanberry, Sea Buckthorn.

John O'Groats was windswept and featureless, as advertised, but we were still excited about our obligatory photos with the signpost. We turned south, leaving the flat, misty plain for the main road to Wick and beyond.

Howard, at the front, had been keeping an eye out for potential lunch, and we pulled in at a little tea room where I had cullen skink, ordered with a vague sense that it was fish and potatoes and I would like it (correct), and the waitress answered every request or thanks with a cheerful 'No bother'.

An onslaught of rain prevented us getting full value from the sea views and hairpin bends of the Berriedale Braes, and set in for the afternoon as the A9 carried us back to Inverness, getting busier as it went. As Howard and I crossed the water into the city, the sky magically cleared to blue.

Since the holiday was nearly at an end, I took the opportunity to buy some sweets for the office. The Inverness Tesco wasn't quite the same experience as going to a French supermarket, but did helpfully have a Local Products aisle featureing the entire range of Tunnocks and Irn Bru.

Miles: 160.6

Dunnet Head

John O'Groats: Alice & Howard
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Juniper is, in fact, a pretty common choice for OCs in WD fanfic. =:)

I've never actually had cullen skink, not being much of a fish person... but one day I'll go for it!
Yes, I've known a Juniper or two, come to think of it! With the gin association, might well be one I'd pick myself :)
Aw, I can imagine your journey well!

Next time Orkney?
You really love Orkney, don't you!

Do you ever look at the dovegreyreader blog? She's just been to Orkney again and the pics might bring back happy memories for you.
I do! I think about it nearly all the time!

And no, I will go and find it :-)
Maybe! You've certainly made a good case for it :)
Northernmost point of Britain? Sounds like a place a geography geek like me would visit. :)
Oh, yes! You need to do Land's End and John O'Groats, the furthest points from each other.
Hopefully driving on the left won't be too much of a challenge, especially since I'm left-handed. XD
I've never found switching a problem, but it's easier on a bike as you're sitting in the middle of it, not off to the left or right! I do have to think very carefully about which way to look at junctions, though.
I figured a bike would be easier. :)

In many places in the U.K. there are signs telling people who live in countries that drive on the right which way to look when crossing the street. XD
I've never seen those, but you do get instructions in 3 languages to drive on the left near ports!
Ooh, and I see MoM have Dunnet Bay in stock for a perfectly reasonable amount. =:9

Cullen skink really needs to find its way down south. My introduction to it was back in February, where I partook of the Whiski Room's version, which was quite heavenly. Rich, brimming with smoky fishy goodness.. a delight at any time, but especially on a night when I found myself without much of an appetite, for no particular reason, but still wanted something hot. (Not just for that, of course, but I'd love to see Edinburgh again, ideally with a bit of time to roam around the environs as well; though we did do a good job of exploring in the couple days we had)

I know it's not the most original kind of photo in the world, but there are ones like that which are nigh compulsory. ^_^ (See also: the Greenwich meridian, Golden Gate Bridge)

Hmm. I see the train network could get me up to Thurso.. any idea if that's worth a visit? Seems like it could be fun to explore on the trains, stopping off frequently as sights/pubs merit.
Scottish gin is a burgeoning Thing, and I am all for it (not being much of a whisky drinker, although I fancy one occasionally).

And then there's THIS: http://bogartspirits.com

I will definitely have to have a crack at making my own cullen skink.

Thurso was a bit of a blur as we passed through it on the last leg before shower and dinner, but friends have since recommended it highly.