CCXLV – Stonehaven to Montrose

Helpful MammalI ALIGHTED at Stonehaven railway station early on 13 Sep 2023, ready and eager to resume my migration southward. I had already breakfasted, prior to departing Aberdeen, and so was already fuelled up for the journey, with a particular emphasis on being sufficiently caffeinated – early mornings and I are not what you might call natural acquaintances, except when I see them from entirely the wrong end, having somehow forgotten to go to bed. Fortunately, on this particular morning, that was not the case and I was sufficiently rested as well as fuelled. No excuse, then, for not immediately getting on with it…

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CCXLI – Peterhead to Newburgh

Helpful MammalAFTER breakfast, I began my penultimate coastal walk of April 2023 by – and this should hardly be surprising – walking along the coast. I finished it like that, too, with some coastal walking in between. Although, technically, I suppose I didn’t actually begin with coast as I initially detoured a few metres further inland to take a better look at some Peterhead structures I’d glimpsed the previous evening on my way to my hotel.

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CCXXXVI – Forres to Lossiemouth

Hasteful MammalTHE last day of my October 2022 trip began with the gentle sound of raindrops upon the windows of my hotel room. Once again, this eased off during breakfast but most of my morning’s exertions would still be cooled by the lightest of misty drizzle hanging damply in the air. I didn’t mind this in itself – I quite like the rain – but it did threaten to hide any scenic views that my day’s walk had to offer. The walk would be from Forres to Lossiemouth along part of the Moray Coastal Trail

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CCXXXIV – Ardersier to Nairn

Hasteful MammalI AWOKE in Ardersier after an undisturbed night’s sleep. If Georgina, the alleged resident ghost of the Gun Lodge Hotel had sat on the edge of my bed in the night, she had done it considerately enough so as not to wake me. Thus, fully refreshed, I was ready for the day’s challenge, which was not very challenging at all…

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CCXXXI – Tain to Dingwall

Hasteful MammalSOME three months ago – I have really been inexcusably tardy about writing this up – I breakfasted in Tain (Baile Dhubhthaich) within the walls of Mansfield Castle Hotel, which was not really a true castle but a mansion house with a tower and battlements tacked on for aesthetic effect…

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CCXXIX – Berriedale to Golspie

Hasteful MammalI HAD a problem on the second day of May, which was that I awoke in Helmsdale, exactly where I had planned to be.  How is this a problem, you might reasonably ask? Because it was not where I needed to be – my plan had failed to come to fruition and I had curtailed my previous walk some eight and a half miles short of Helmsdale. I thus needed to get back to Berriedale, if I were to pick up where I left off. Somehow.

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CCXVIII – Durness loop via Balnakeil and Faraid Head

Hasteful MammalI RETURNED to Durness in early October 2019, arriving mid-afternoon as that was the time that the one and only bus pulled into town. I made my way to my B&B (which had power this time — yay!) and sat and had a cup of tea.

‘Okay,’ I thought to myself, ‘now what?’

Except I already knew what as I’d planned that out already…

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CCXVI – Scourie to Rhiconich

Hasteful MammalTHE first question on day five of my September 2019 trip was ‘is it still raining’? The answer was ‘ish’. The second question was would the day begin by heading off-road along a footpath, or would I once again be treading the tarmac? A strong indicator as to which this would be occurred when my hotelier asked me my plans for the day…

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CCVIII – Shieldaig to Poolewe

Helpful MammalTHE morning of day four began with the ravenous consumption of breakfast; I’d missed dinner the night before after walking thirty-odd miles and my body was demanding fuel insistently. All it had had the previous evening was a cheeseboard, which was tasty but small, and if I were to stand any chance of completing another day’s walking, I would have to give it more input than that. So I did.

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CCVII – Shieldaig to Shieldaig

Hasteful MammalTHE third day of my April 2019 trip promised to be a long one. This was entirely of my own choosing because, when I’d looked at the map, something had leapt right out at me —two places called Shieldaig! This isn’t that amazing in itself; Gaelic toponyms are often repeated as they’re mostly descriptive in nature. ‘Shieldaig’, for instance, is the Anglicised spelling of a Gaelicised version of Old Norse síld-vík, meaning ‘herring bay’ and more than one bay in Scotland would have had herring in it. So, why my excitement about spotting two Shieldaigs?

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