Jogle Blogle – Day 13

You may have noticed that there was no Jogle Blogle – Day 12 published yesterday. That isn’t to say that there wasn’t one, there was – and rather good it was too, even if I do say so myself. Unfortunately I ran into all sorts of copyright issues with the pictures I wanted to attach to it. So I’ll bung 10 quid forfeit into Steve’s just giving page at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support (you can donate too) and plough straight on with the ominously named Jogle Blogle – Day 13.

It turns out that the only ominous thing about it was the weather, which was foul. Cold, cold rain. Not the most favourable conditions for climbing a mountain then, but it was there, and as part of Steve’s charity walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End, it had to be done. 

Ben Nevis is the highest peak on mainland Britain and stands some 4,413 feet high. But the Jogler and his wife, Sue, aka the Jogleress were to have some company on this first of the 3 peak challenge my brother so foolishly decided to include on this little adventure. Daughter and son, Rachael and Michael (henceforth to be known as the Jogleressette and the Mini-Jogler joined them at Fort William as did the Jogleressette’sfella, Andy (I think they bought him along to take the photos. Besides, no one talks to him because he supports The Baggies – West Bromwich Albion, for our readers abroad).

IMG_2116IMG_2117The day started reasonably enough, damp but mild. Perhaps unwisely they trusted the Jogleressette with the map (Oh look, there’s the Jogleressette’sfella).

 

 

 

 

IMG_2069Fortunately they didn’t have to rely on her cartography skills as they found a handily placed sign, and let’s face it a bloody great mountain is quite hard to miss.

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On the way up however the weather began to close in.

102a5cf5-d75f-4e84-8abc-6d28b9fa568eNow at this juncture I should like to thank the BBC for their well timed report on the evening news only a day previously. Ben Nevis, they declared, was a very dangerous place to go, before informing Joe Public (myself included) how many people had died on its slopes recently. Thanks a lot Beeb!

This Blogler was very relieved when I received news that the party had returned to base camp.

IMG_2107There was one important stop to make before that could happen though. The summit! Here they are proudly (and justifiably) displaying the Joglers tee shirt.IMG_2104fullsizeoutput_7c1

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the Jogler, I would like to point out that he may have been preparing for this moment for most of his life. Here is a picture of him at the age of around 5 or 6 with much the same pose and expression.

IMG_2120There was not much of a view however though the mist and murk. Freezing temperatures also meant that our gang returned the way they came to head for the warmth of a suitable bar to celebrate, which the Mini-Jogler and the Jogleressette’sfella did long into the night.8529fc8c-e3c4-4e9f-99a4-52b78687c5d8

Let’s hope conditions are more favourable when they attempt Scafell Pike and Snowdon later in the trek.

The days stats were as follows:

Mileage 10.1, no I know it’s not a lot but it was uphill for heaven’s sake! It took 6 hours 40 minutes and 34 seconds in 30,979 steps for the Jogler anyway.

Totals to date, 221.33 miles. 452,014 steps.

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Jogle Blogle – Day 11

IMG_1963Well I hope you’re all prepared for this. Today’s going to be a grueller! The Jogler and Jogleress are about to embark on their longest leg of the journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End so far. Day 11 of The Jogle could be make or break day on Steve’s charity walk for Macmillan Cancer Support – see his link here http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

 

You may recall that they strolled into Invergarry on the afternoon of Day 10, conserving their energy. Day 11 was going to be tough – and they knew it! Steve had planned to walk 26 miles on their journey to Fort William and so they set out earlier than normal at 08:20 via pathways alongside the River Oich, Loch Oich and the Caledonian Canal. Due to not staying where they planned the night previously however this meant the trek was nearly 30 miles instead. The panorama stretched ahead of them, reminding our walkers with each step just how much further there was to go. Grasses, heathers, the mighty Scots pine (no, let’s not go there, eh?) tranquil waters and pale skies with clouds which would do the opening credits of ‘The Simpsons’ proud.

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Our intrepid pair though are still prepared to fire off some photos as they breathlessly traverse the countryside, each step after endless step getting them agonisingly slowly toward their long, interminable day’s goal of collapsing exhausted into bed and not caring if that bed were a bed of nails!

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Today’s wildlife of choice – a cow. (Honestly I was expecting so much more – otters perhaps, or maybe a wild sporran!)

 

 

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Gairlochy and the surrounding area was where Commandos trained during World War II, hence the memorial at Spean Bridge just up the road. Believe it or not, whilst training for beach landings these brave men were shot at with live ammunition by their instructors who were trained to miss – but not by much.

How are you holding up? Yes, me too – I’ll be glad when we can take a rest, my calf muscles are cramping up just writing this. My breathing’s getting a little ragged and I think my pulse is racing, but don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.

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We’re now passing Exhaustion Point and heading out along the Glen of Despair, passing by Loch Knackered for mile upon mile, yard upon yard, inch upon torturous inch and in the distance, Ben Nevis, taunting them, so near and yet so far as they strain sinew and muscle toward their base camp for the assault on its summit in two days time. Will they recover in time? Thankfully the troublesome, Bertie Blister is totally overwhelmed by the magnitude of the days mammoth task and Steve is now aching in places he never knew that he had, rendering that sore point an unpleasant memory at best.

 

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Neptune’s staircase at Banavie is home to two swing bridges across the Caledonian Canal. The rail bridge opened in 1901 and carries locomotives from the West Highland Line and is operated by hand from the south side. The road bridge allows traffic from the A830 to cross the waterway, unless vessels are passing through as they were today. Hang on, do you think we could thumb a lift?

How you doing? Could I just have a sip from your water bottle please? Thanks! Hang on while I just roll my socks down to my ankles. Gosh if it weren’t for writing about the idyllic scenery I think I’d have gone mad, mad I tell you!

IMG_2040Finally they reach the end of The Great Glenn Way and although it’s not the final destination it is a chance to rest up under the sign. If you recall the start point of that pathway was at the photogenic Inverness Castle. This end is marked by McDonalds, Morrison’s and an badly parked mini digger, a sure sign we’re getting toward civilisation. Nice hanging baskets though. My word, that hard wooden bench looks comfortable!

IMG_2028More wildlife as Sue befriends a mutt. How can she bend her back like that? Mine’s in bits and I’m only writing about this. Is it far now? No, leave me here, I’m only slowing you all down. Leave me a gun and I’ll hold all the Apaches off – don’t worry, I’ll save the last bullet for myself. Sorry, I think I’m delirious. Just carry on without me – I’ll catch up tomorrow.

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In the meantime here’s a snap of an old wreck, the walkers first view of Fort William and the days stats. Well done guys, well done indeed. No, just prop me over there against Ronald McDonald’s drive through menu board. I’ll be fine, don’t worry!

Mileage for Day 11 an astonishing 29.9 in 59,162 steps. The walk was 10 hours 20 minutes and 37 seconds in duration. The totals for the Jogle so far are: 211.23 miles, 421,035 steps.

Jogle Blogle – Day 10

I bet you thought I’d missed one, didn’t you? Not at all. I just didn’t have time to post it that’s all. So you’ll be getting two today – you lucky, lucky people!

IMG_1856IMG_1873Day 10 of The Jogle. Into double figures. Uphill, down glen. A fairly leisurely start for our dynamic duo as they conserve energy for their big climb on Day 13 and indeed for their marathon walk into Fort William tomorrow (unless you’re reading this today of course). They did catch their first glimpse of Ben Nevis in the distance, worryingly capped with snow – more of that on Jogle Blogle – Day 11, because you would have to squint at these photos a bit!

IMG_1882IMG_1900But today was the day that they bade farewell to Loch Ness as they continued down to Invergarry on Steve’s charity walk from John O’Groats to its furthest counterpart in Cornwall. Pausing only to take a few more shots of the scenery, a selfie (thank heavens he’s had a shave – he looked a right scruffy Herbert yesterday [had to get a Dad saying in somewhere bro!]) and mugging a fellow walker to take a shot of the pair of them they dropped down from the high trail they’d been following into Fort Augustus. Isn’t the Jogleress little? Or is the Jogler tall?

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Out then onto the wide flat towpaths of the Caledonian Canal, for lunch at The Bothy by the locks leading to the Loch which may or may not be the home of a certain monster.IMG_1918

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IMG_1951Back on the trail, passing Cullochy Loch where apparently the royal family disembarked in 1958, such a momentous event that they put up a plaque. Perhaps this was the origin of the term ‘the royal wee,’ as they all obviously stopped for a trip behind the bushes. (Well there’s not much else there!)

IMG_1955Finally they passed the suspension bridge at Oich, built over the river of the same name in 1849 and designed by the appropriately named James Dredge, on their way to their overnight stop.

The stats of the day were mileage 17.4 giving a total of 181.33. They walked for a leisurely 6 hours 23 minutes and 37 seconds in 38,191 steps and the running total is now 361,873.

Find out all about Steve’s walk at his just giving page here http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

Jogle Blogle – Day 9

IMG_1751IMG_1753Day 9 of The Jogle Blogle. Will it never end? Bro and his missus set out just after 09:30 to continue their walk from Drumndrochit to the nights stop at Invermoriston.

 

 

 

IMG_1754If you recall (and how could you ever forget), Steve is walking for charity from John O’Groats to Land’s End with the 3 peaks thrown in for good measure. Wife Sue joined a couple of days ago and the two of them are now getting perilously close to their assault on the summit of Ben Nevis. With the weather distinctly ‘ish’ they donned wet weather clothing for the days trip around Loch Ness.

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Sue posed for a pic with today’s wildlife choice – a horse.

 

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Given a choice of ‘you tek the high road and I’ll tek the low road,’ they opted for the more difficult option of the route which was opened in 2014 at a cost of 1 million pounds to offer spectacular views above the tree line of the famous Loch and surrounding countryside. Given that the Jogler had spent a sleepless night worrying that his back was about to give up the ghost, this doesn’t sound like the most sound of tactics to me. But who am I to judge, lying here, typing on my iPad, recumbent on the chaise lounge, sipping Carling Black Label from a cut glass flute.

Well, I’m taking it easy aren’t I, after the traumatic day we all had yesterday for heavens sake! What? You haven’t read Jogle Blogle – Day 8 yet? Well I wouldn’t if I were you, it was hell on Earth I tell you, hell on Earth. I don’t know how I’ll cope with a bloody mountain! And they’ll be having a rest day when they get to base camp, but I’ll be expected to keep on Blogling won’t I? Oh yes indeedy! 

IMG_1770Anyway they called in at the Loch Ness pottery and cafe right on top of the escarpment there. where they settled for banana cake and tea. I guess they may have bought some pottery too, if they hadn’t had to lug it all the way down to Cornwall,  visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lochnessclayworkspottery/ it’s worth it just for the picture of the Lynx.

IMG_1811Back on the trail they paused only to get the obligatory selfie – notice my brother hogging all the limelight (needing a shave mate, or are you going for the Grizzly Adams look?) and Sue playing silly buggers in the middle of the ‘viewcatcher’ which frames the Munros some 25 miles north of Loch Cluanie and Pooh sticks on a bridge inspired by the drawings of local schoolchildren.

 

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And aside from the moody scenic shots that’s about all I can tell you. Apart from the days stats that is, which are, mileage 13.9 – not much by previous standards, but we’re still going up to a maximum elevation of 1426 feet for this part of the Jogle. They walked for 5 hours 30 minutes and 38 seconds in 29,905 steps, to get to their days destination at Invermoriston. Now I’ve had the abacus restrung the totals are 163.93 miles in 323,682 steps.

IMG_1853Oh Kate, could you top up the Carling please. Not right to the top, no. I don’t want the bubbles going up my nose.

We’ll call in and sample the tension tomorrow as they reach the foothills of the great Ben itself, as they’ll no doubt gaze up to see it soar into the clouds and regret they ever said that they would even attempt to scale its sheer granite walls.

Oh and by the way, Bertie Blister is, ‘o.k. with no more bits lost,’ so that’s all right then.

So I’ll leave it there, feel free to take a look at Steve’s ‘just giving’ page can be found at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

 

Jogle Blogle – Day 8

WARNING: This Blogle is not for the faint of heart.

IMG_1667IMG_1671Yes my friends, this is where the Jogle starts to get tough, so fasten your seatbelts and make sure that you’re well strapped in for this immersive account of Day 8 of my brothers walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

As you may recall, Steve up until this point has mainly been puttering about down by the coast. Now however he and wife Sue, who joined him yesterday and will accompany him to Glasgow in case Bertie Blister invites any of his friends along (more of which later), are about to tack west along The Great Glen Way. And that means – going uphill.

IMG_1693A lot!

IMG_1706Yes, they’re now on the trail to the first of the three peaks in this charity event for Macmillan Cancer Support (visit the just giving page http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi ) – Ben Nevis which, all being well, they’ll be climbing – ominously – on Day 13.

 

IMG_1682IMG_1695So as you sit there reading this rather marvellous account, even if I do modestly say so myself, imagine if you can getting into a lift (elevator for our American readers) and going up for nearly 1/4 mile. Yes on this leg of the journey they’ll be ascending to 1243 feet which is more or less the height of the roof of the Empire State Building- and yes, I do know the antenna on the top makes it a couple of hundred feet higher, but you try doing it after a stale granola bar and a cup of weak tea for brekkie! 

The Great Glen Way begins at Inverness Castle, so of course the intrepid pair had to pause for the obligatory photos.

IMG_1701The trail is now mainly off road, so from this point there will mainly be interesting scenic shots and something that we haven’t had before – now that he has a companion there are some pictures of the Jogler actually Jogling, so you can tell that this is not some figment of my imagination.

IMG_1705You probably can’t tell from these mobile phone images but it rained constantly almost from the time they set out.

The blue marker poles incidentally are finger posts pointing the way along the trail. Miss one and you could be lost for years, foraging to survive and living off mountain spring water and wild haggis.

IMG_1727Raging torrents had to be forded and all the time the path was up and up and up… Blimey, I think my ears just popped.

IMG_1718Today’s obligatory wildlife shot is of a Bullfinch, but who cares – I’m now so hot and sweaty just writing this and this incessant driving rain! Will it never end!?

 

 

 

IMG_1711IMG_1713Finally, signs of life! At the highest inhabited Croft in Scotland they found the Abriachan eco-campsite and cafe. Blimey, that’s a rare old slice of cake, isn’t it? And I don’t know who that is – but it looks like she’s about to swallow it whole! You might find out at :-www.facebook.com/abriachanecocafecampsiteonthegreatglenwayscotland

 

IMG_1742Our intrepid explorers are now just north of Loch Ness, so careful folks just in case you bump into… Too late!

At Nessieland – @nessielandinfo in Drumnadrochit, their final destination Sue bumped into the fabled monster. At least we now know why William Wallace painted his face blue before he cried, ‘Freedom!’ Or was that Mel Gibson, I’ve never been sure?

 

 

IMG_1745Time for a pint of the now familiar, Black Isle Blonde (cheers Jogler) before turning in for a well deserved rest.

Stats of the day are:- Mileage 20.1 so now a total of 150.03. They walked for 7 hours 23 minutes and 12 seconds to, as previously mentioned, an elevation of 1243 feet in 41,321 steps, a total of 293,777 steps so far. (The totals have now been corrected as the Blogger can’t do sums – thanks Andy Barr for pointing that out). Day 9 will see them heading out to Invermoriston, so make sure to rest well and tune into the next instalment Jogle Blogle.

 

Yes, yes, I know you’ve been dying to find out. Apparently parts of Bertie Blister have ‘sloughed’ off, whatever that means. I should imagine that the skin has ruptured and gallons of suppurating, festering pus have been deposited in the Joglers sock. You were what, sorry? Eating your tea? Well you shouldn’t have asked then, should you!

Jogle Blogle – Day 7

IMG_1572Wow! Not only is the Jogler breaking through all sorts of barriers, 1 week in, over 100 miles and 100,000 steps walked, but now the Blogle is getting in on the act too. We started Day 1 with a meagre 16 views. Yesterday on Day 6 we attracted over 100 views on the blog site, that’s not counting all the interactions on Facebook and Twitter. Keep up the good work sharing, retweeting and generally spreading the word you wonderful people, my brother Steve is doing this for a great charity after all – check out his reasons for walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End along with the 3 peaks thrown in for good measure on his just giving page at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

All proceeds are going to Macmillan Cancer Support and a big thank you from the Jogler for your support so far. I’ll let you know how far he’s got toward his £10,000 target at the end of this Blogle chronicling his Day 7 stage from Evanton to Inverness.

Now this should be interesting, the only thing I know about Inverness is that four and twenty previously chaste young ladies once returned from there with their reputations tarnished. Well something along those lines anyway, if the song is to be believed.

IMG_1605So, setting out from Evanton our Jogler continued along the lesser known trails he’d discovered the day before. Ominously there were warnings of ice once more, but none encountered – lucky that as our brave walker had left his crampons at home.

IMG_1608Eventually though the inevitable happened and as Steve traversed an unmanned level crossing he found himself once more on the dreaded A9. 

IMG_1617Eventually the road crossed the Cromarty Firth, via the aptly named Cromarty Bridge. What a strange coincidence they should both be in the same location. Mindful of the ice warning, Steve was keeping a keen eye out for penguins, but only managed to spot this solitary heron. That’s the wildlife done for today then.

 

fullsizeoutput_790IMG_1628The Jogler now found himself on the ominously named Black Isle, but contrary to expectations found a warm welcome at the local Spar in Culbokie where we give a shout out to the kindly serving ladies who allowed our elite athlete to sit and devour his mars bar and orange lucozade (disclaimer – other confectionery and energy drinks are available) in the chair in the corner reserved for collapsing old folk. What!? No, I never said a word, but I know what you’re thinking. You lot can be so cruel sometimes!

IMG_1636And so on to the highlight of the days adventure. As mentioned yesterday, as part of a covert operation, Steve’s wife Sue, a trained medical professional was dropped in to meet up with our Jogler in a secret rendezvous earlier in the day. Pausing only to bury her parachute beside a convenient haggis nest, our ‘Jogleress’ made her way to the meeting point and duly stuffed her face with a cheese and onion cob. Nothing untoward there you may think, but she was in fact attempting to use the onion smell to mask her unenviable task in examining Bertie Blister. She needs a citation in my opinion, her husband has now been walking for a week and she was only just about to re-supply the Hobbler, sorry Jogler, with a change of socks!

IMG_1655After a thorough assessment, Bertie was pronounced ‘not too bad,’ and the pair set out, past the Black Isle brewery (Steve does appear to have become quite addicted to their produce, perhaps in attempt to mask the undoubted pain in his foot). Over the Kessock Bridge, Steve – as he did on Day One – failed to spot any of the dolphins which are supposed to frequent these waters. Perhaps the Whale and Dolphin Society of Scotland should revoke his honorary membership.

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IMG_1649They passed the home of Inverness Caledonian Thistle, took a wrong turn and bumped into Cromwell’s clock tower, restored and all that remains of Ollie’s citadel which was demolished at the start of the Restoration of the monarchy. (Not only do you get geography and nature here folks, we also give you history!)

 

 

IMG_1663At this point Steve bid a thankful farewell to the A9, on Day 7 he and his travelling nurse set out along the Great Glen Way.

It’ll be Scottish Cup Final day, between Celtic and Hearts at Hampden Park, so keep your heads down on Saturday night guys, the natives will be very boisterous whichever way it goes!

 

 

IMG_1653IMG_1657IMG_1658And so we leave you, dear reader, with a few random views of Inverness and the days statistics:

Mileage 18.4 so now a total of 113.13. He walked for 5 hours 34 minutes and 20 seconds and get this – did 38,658 steps, the total will be given tomorrow once the figures have been confirmed by a team of specialists, convened especially for this event.

Now then, it has been pointed out – first from the Jogler, but I thought he was joking, and then by Jogle Blogle follower, Andy Barr that the step count total may be incorrect. Therefore I have sent my abacus away to be recalibrated and hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Oh yes – at the time of writing Steve has raised a staggering £5605 which is 56% of his £10,000 minimum target. Thank you all so much from the Jogler, the Jogleress and the Blogler. Keep up the good work spreading the word.

STOP PRESS: News has reached me that a part of Bertie has become detached and may require surgery (Gruesome I know, but you loyal readers deserve the truth, no fake news here – well, not much anyway). Unfortunately at the time of receiving this news the Jogleress, no doubt exhausted by her epic journey north – it was probably paddling her RIB up the Cromarty Firth with her oars muffled that did it – and is herself in no fit condition to take remedial action. I’ll keep you all posted on this alarming development tomorrow. Over and out!

Jogle Blogle – Day 6

IMG_1572And so for the Jogler, day 6 turned into a bit of a damp squib – or at least a very overcast one. But make the most of it bro – the bank holiday is coming and we all know what that means, it’ll be peeing down no doubt! Once again Steve managed to avoid the A9 on his journey south from John O’Groats to Land’s End, so a minor victory in avoiding the traffic as he headed out of his overnight stop in Evanton.

IMG_1578If you’ve ever wondered where old oil rigs go to die (and haven’t we all at some point in our lives), the answer is Cromarty Firth. In the distance my brother could make out the unused platforms stored up waiting for the price of oil to rise and the business of drilling the North Sea to become profitable again. Perhaps if the oil barons weren’t involving themselves so much in fracking that day may come sooner rather than later – I suppose it all comes down to which part of the environment you want to destroy first. (Bit controversial that – blimey, I’m starting to sound like Ben Elton, remember him?)

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Continuing his charity walk for Macmillan Cancer Support – here’s Steve’s ‘justgiving’ link http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi  our intrepid explorer passed the Forgandenny horse trials being set up for the weekend and, highlight of the day, (fanfare and drumroll) some ducks.

IMG_1600Which leaves me, the Blogler, drumming my fingers on the desktop wondering what else to tell you, loyal reader, given the paucity of information feeding down to Blogle headquarters. I can of course add the obligatory pictures taken by our stroller, so here they are.

IMG_1584And! Oh yes, since you ask – Bertie Blister (it now has a name) is no better, no worse according to my brother’s self diagnosis. But in a rather exciting development, even as I type this report, moves are afoot (afoot, get it? Oh dear, I make myself laugh sometimes) to remedy the situation. One of the N.H.S.’s crack nursing staff is already making her way to Birmingham International Airport and will be parachuted in somewhere near Inverness at a secret location.

IMG_1590Yes – Steve’s wife, Sue will meet up with him armed with potions, lotions and various field dressings to attend to his injury. In an act of selfless bravery she will then accompany the Jogler for the next two weeks waiting for Bertie to surrender or Steve’s foot to drop off, whichever comes first. For the duration of this mission she will go by the code name – The Jogleress.

IMG_1595Don’t tell anyone though, it’s a secret, let’s just keep it between ourselves. Hopefully she’ll also bring fresh supplies to the walker – let’s face it there are only so many times you can reverse your undercrackers before they start to get a bit riffy! I’ll update you on the success or otherwise of the mission tomorrow. In the meantime here are the stats for Day 6 of the Jogle.

Mileage a paltry 16.8 so now a total of 111.53. Mind you, he did climb to 404 feet, so I guess some of it was uphill. He walked for 5 hours 17 minutes and 12 seconds and took a total of 33,916 steps which takes him up to of 144,825. Only another million or so to go Steve.

Catch up tomorrow everyone as the Jogler heads for somewhere we’ve actually heard of – Inverness!