Land's End to John O'Groats Cycletouring Trip Part 2

Day 55 - John O'Groats to Wick

About 5 miles due West from John O'Groats lies The Castle of Mey. This castle was purchased by the Queen Mother in August 1952 a few months after the death of King George VI at a time when she needed some peace and tranquility away from London. It was called Barrogil Castle at the time, and was in a bad state of repair. Having been up for sale for some months, if a buyer not been found it was likely that it would have been pulled down.

The Queen Mother had fallen in love with the place, and soon renamed it The Castle of Mey. She was made very welcome by the local people and was a familiar figure at the Mey Games every year, whatever the weather. Also, every Sunday during her stays in the county she was among the worshippers at the historic Canisbay Kirk, just a few miles along the coast from the castle.

Ownership of the castle had been transferred to The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey trust long before Her Majesty's death, aged 101, at the end of March this year. Since then the trust has been planning to fulfil her wish that the castle be made accessible to the public.

The castle was opened on the 14th August for 6 days a week, so I was quite lucky to be in the area at this time, especiallly as the timetable only appeared to run until October, and for this first few weeks there is no entry charge.

I cycled over before moving on to Wick to catch the train.

Arriving with plenty of time to spare, the entrance to the castle is blocked by two men until exactly 11am. The traffic stopping and building up on the main road at the entrance is in danger of causing an incident. A total of 24 vehicles parked on a private piece of land opposite waiting for the entrance to open.

I had a good look round the grounds and garden and also at the Queen Mother's pride herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

I returned back to John O'Groats to pick up my trailer and luggage. I also met Tom the Irishman all dressed in Green, and we went for lunch to the hotel up the road. From here I cycled South to Wick.

At Wick I call straight in at the railway station to ask about tickets and booking my bike on a train. I always knew that booking cycle spaces is necessary on these trains and preferring to keep my travel options open by not booking up in advance, I was aware that I would probably have to wait a day or so before getting a space.

No spaces tomorrow, and only spaces on the overnight sleeper on the following evening, so I take one of those and have a day off tomorrow.

Camping tonight at the Riverside Caravan Club Site. The distance travelled today was 29 miles.

Photograph of an old local house opposite the entrance to The Castle of Mey with flagstone used for walling
A local house, with flagstone used for walling

Photograph of the Castle of Mey taken from the front of the building with a canon in the foreground
The Castle of Mey, Caithness, Scotland

Photograph of the entrance to the Castle of Mey
The Castle of Mey, Caithness, Scotland

Photograph of a memorial bench to the Queen Mother at the Castle of Mey
A memorial bench to the Queen Mother at the Castle of Mey

Photograph of part of the garden with the Castle of Mey in the background
The Castle of Mey and garden

Photograph of Wick showing a statue looking towards the town centre
Wick, Caithness, Scotland

Photograph of some trees and their reflections in the river at Wick
Trees and reflections in Wick

Photograph of some trees and their reflections in the river at Wick
Trees and reflections in Wick

Photograph of Tom the British Irishman and a Wick local
Tom and a Wick local

© Copyright  Piers Pettman - This page last updated 08 July 2006
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