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Walking the John o' Groats Trail

Coastal walking from Inverness to John o' Groats

Guidebook to the John O' Groats Trail, a 235km long-distance walk from Inverness to John O' Groats in the far north of Scotland. The trail boasts stunning coastal scenery and fantastic cliff-top walking, while attractive towns and villages offer accommodation. It can be completed in around a fortnight.


Spring is the best time for this walk, with a lot of daylight. There is more undergrowth in the summer, and more visitors means accommodation may be harder to find.


Inverness, Tain, Dornoch, Brora, Helmsdale, Wick, John o' Groats


The northern half of the Trail is challenging, mainly following rough clifftops, often close to the edge and across rough ground. There are also fences to cross. The southern half is relatively straightforward, but overall this route is not recommended for less experienced walkers.

Must See

Some of the most spectacular sea-cliff scenery in Britain, with many sea stacks, sea arches and caves; ruined medieval castles perched on the cliff edges; vast empty beaches and sand-dune systems; seals, ospreys, eider ducks and large numbers of other seabirds; varied woodland
13 Feb 2023
17.20 x 11.60 x 1.10cm

A guidebook to walking the John o' Groats Trail between Inverness and John o' Groats at the northeastern tip of mainland Britain. Covering 233km (145 miles), this Scottish coastal trail takes 2 weeks to hike and is suitable for experienced walkers.

The route is described from south to north in 14 stages, each between 10 and 25km (6–16 miles) in length. Summary notes are also included for southbound walkers. An alternative start from Drumnadrochit is detailed, allowing walkers from the Great Glen to bypass Inverness.

  • Mapping is included for each stage
  • GPX files available to download
  • Detailed information on facilities, public transport and accommodation on route
  • Advice on planning and preparation

Table of Contents

By Andy Robinson

Andy Robinson has been walking around the hills and mountains for more years than he cares to admit to, and is a mean hand with a map and compass.  He has a habit of setting off on unreasonably optimistic expeditions and usually gets away with it.  But not always.  His family is very supportive and puts up with a lot, but he’s not quite sure why. 

Andy Robinson is the author of The End to End Trail – Land’s End to John o’ Groats on Foot and has worked together with Jay Wilson to create a guide to the John o' Groats Trail.

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By Jay Wilson

Jay Wilson is the founding chair of the Friends of the John o' Groats Trail. He had the principal guiding role in the creation of the Trail. In 2014, Jay walked from Drumnadrochit to John o' Groats, looking for a walking route connecting the Great Glen Way to John o' Groats avoiding A-roads but providing access to accommodation. In 2015 Jay was back, walking from Inverness this time, and talking to local walking groups along the way about developing a marked trail. In June 2016 the Friends of the John o' Groats Trail was founded as a charity. Later that year, Andy Robinson called Jay and they decided to work together on a guidebook for the new trail.

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