About this blog

The journey from John o'Groats to Land's End took place in 14 sections, starting in 1996 (a week or so each year). The idea came to me in 1995 and I completed the British JoGLE Watershed in June 2009.

I was joined by a number of relations and friends from time to time. Most notable among my walking companions were my son Tim (7 sections) and nephews Peter and Jonny.

After walking the first section in 1996 I discovered that Dave Hewitt had already pioneered the Scottish Watershed (to Cape Wrath) in 1987, and had published his excellent account Walking the Watershed in 1994. We have been in touch since then, and he has been a great encouragement.

A simple definition of the watershed is that any rain falling to the left of the path finishes in the North Sea or English Channel, and anything to the right flows into the Atlantic Ocean, the Irish Sea or the Bristol Channel.

I believe that this was the first walk along the full length of the British JoGLE Watershed. I became aware just after I completed the journey that the late Mike Allen walked a slightly different version (from Land's End to Cape Wrath) between 1988 and 1994, so he will have covered the same ground apart from the most north-easterly 220km.

There have subsequently been several walks and publications about parts of the JoGLE watershed, including Peter Wright's 2010 Ribbon of Wildness account of his Scottish section walked in 2005, which has brought the subject of watershed walking in the UK to a wider audience.

I hope you enjoy this blog. I'm planning to publish a full account in 2013/4. A summary of the walk appeared in The Angry Corrie volume 76 in 2009.

Malcolm Wylie.

Tuesday, 9 July 1996

Day 1 - Duncansby - on your marks, get set, go!

The adventure begins (on Landranger map 12 at 405733).

After the short walk up the hill to Duncansby Head - the most north-easterly point on the mainland of Great Britain - we set out along the cliff-top (seeing noisy crowds of nesting birds on Duncansby Stacks) and then inland, to be dive-bombed by a Great Skua. There were lots of orchids on the moorland.

This was a day of firsts (many of which were to become common features on the watershed): trig point (on Warth Hill), radio mast (at 323703), electrocuted inner thighs when crossing fences, begging (water!), and a close encounter with a bull.

More rarely, we found a watershed anomaly at ND277677, where a thin blue line went all the way from the north to the east coast across our route - a drainage ditch which was dry. We camped at 207619 at the edge of a pine plantation, and the right side of the fence to be safe from the bull.

We were between two streams - bound for different oceans, a fact already known by the local farmer who asked what we were up to. But he was interested to hear that we intended to follow the Watershed right to Land's End.

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