CCXLII – Newburgh to Aberdeen

Helpful MammalIT HAS taken me a while to get around to writing up the last day of my April 2023 trip (over four months, in fact) but that delay should not be in any way taken as a commentary on the experience. On the other hand, it is very much an indicator of my propensity to get distracted by stuff and things since then.  On the day, 19 Apr 23 yielded a very pleasant stroll along a sandy beach. A ten-mile stroll, plus a few extra miles on each end.  And they went something like this…

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CCXXXIX – Banff to Fraserburgh

Helpful MammalDAY three of my April 2023 trip began with my throwing back the curtains of my hotel room to find a thin veil of cloud obscuring the sky.  The weather was warm and dry though, so I considered this natural screen against sunburn a bonus.  I was, at this point, still naively hoping I’d reach the end of day six without resembling an ambulatory tomato and on day three that still looked like it was possible…

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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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CCXXV – John o’ Groats to Wick

Hasteful MammalTHE morning of the 11th of March was bright, dry and blustery with the bluster turned up to eleven. This was excellent insofar as it meant that not only would I not be rained on but that the wind should have helped dry the ground out. The only issue was that, if the previous days had been ungodly windy, then that had just been the warm-up – the wind had now become an abhorrent entity embodying meteorological malevolence. If I exaggerate, it’s not by much…

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CCXXI – Bettyhill to Melvich

Hasteful MammalI CRAWLED out of bed in the Bettyhill Hotel fearing the worst, weather-wise, as the forecast was for heavy showers. To my surprise and delight, however, I found blue skies and sunshine when I threw back my curtains. This was an excellent turn of events! I immediately resolved to wolf down my breakfast with unseemly haste and then get out on the road and do as much as possible while I still had this good weather.

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The Best-Laid Plans…

Hasteful MammalOF HELPFUL Mammals oft gang agley! I said before that I’d had a mad plan concerning Cape Wrath and that it didn’t work.  I initially wrote this up as normal but later deleted it as it involved doing something that was definitely dangerous and, while I was confident that I had been duly cautious, I didn’t want to encourage anyone else to endanger themselves.  I have now decided to put back up a rewritten version, which is this.

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CXCI – Kinloch Hourn to Invershiel

Helpful MammalTHE third day of my May ’18 trip began with a hearty breakfast and a reconsideration of my plans. I aimed to set off from Kinloch Hourn along an old drove road, which would lead me to Arnisdale and Glenelg. From there, I intended to head inland on the Old Military Road — when can I ever resist one of those? — to Shiel Bridge and Invershiel. This was, I had reckoned, about twenty-four miles.

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CLXXX – South Ballachulish to Fort William

Hasteful MammalON THE fifth and final day of my August 2017 trip I walked from South Ballachulish to Fort William, which lay about 15 miles up what was once a drove road along the shores of Loch Linnhe but is now the A82.  With this in mind, I emerged from the Ballachulish Hotel to face the narrows at the mouth of Loch Leven, which stood between me and that road. If I wanted to walk it, I would first need to cross them.

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CXXXI – Ravenglass to St Bees

Hasteful MammalALTHOUGH there is a certain purist joy in staying overnight at the start and end point of each walk, so that all the travelling that you are doing between places is on foot, there is a whole different kind of joy in starting the day already ensconced in a hotel at your end point.  This kind of joy entails the ability to dump all your heavier things in your hotel room, safe in the knowledge that you’ll walk back to them later. It is a ‘travelling light’ kind of joy.

This was, of course, what I was doing when I caught a train from St Bees to Ravenglass in order to spend the day walking back to St Bees (the railway version of the journey was around sixteen times faster). 

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CXXX – Millom to Ravenglass

IHasteful Mammal SHOULD know better than to try to make plans.  Staying overnight in Millom, for instance, so that I could just get up early and start walking.  That was a plan right up until the day before, when my hotel turned out not to have an actual room for me to stay in.

Some last-minute problem-solving saw me staying at St Bees instead, which meant that my hotel was right next to a beach but not, unfortunately, next to Millom.  My earliness would now be constrained by the railway and the rest of my plans would have to be somewhat fluid…

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