CCXXII – Melvich to Thurso

Hasteful MammalMY FINAL walking day of 2019 began with breakfast in the Melvich Hotel (established 1851). They had helpfully painted a mural map along one wall of the dining area and I dawdled for a bit, gauging my progress against it. That progress would cease if I didn’t get outside and do the next bit, however, so I settled my bill, picked up my stuff and headed out to do that walking thing…

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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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CCXIX – Durness to Tongue

Hasteful MammalFOLLOWING a day spent idling lazily in Durness (thanks to my plans re Cape Wrath coming to naught), the first Sunday of October 2019 saw me up and about bright and early. Well, early, at least. It wasn’t actually all that bright, being grey and overcast. But while brightness was elusive, earliness was unavoidable; I had a long day of walking ahead of me…

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CCXI – Dundonnell to Ullapool

Hasteful MammalTHE seventh and final walk of my April 2019 trip was faintly momentous in that it marked the first time since Gravesend that I’d walked seven days in a row (I had taken a seven-day trip way back in Cornwall but had spent the sixth day as a rest day). My legs didn’t feel quite as fresh at the start of Day Seven as they had at the start of Day One but neither did they feel like they were made of lead. I was game…

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CCX – Laide to Dundonnell

Hasteful MammalBECAUSE of a small inconvenience on Day 5 of my April 2019 trip — i.e. my hotel having ceased to exist — Day 6 actually began in a more leisurely manner than it might otherwise have done. I awoke in a pleasant B&B that was right at the start of the day’s walk (and not three miles away, as the hotel would have been) and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and a lengthy chat with some other guests who were happy to enthuse about walking.

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CCIX – Poolewe to Laide

Hasteful MammalKNOWING that I would push myself with respect to terrain and distance in the first half of my April 2019 trip, I had anticipated that I would feel somewhat tired towards the end of it. Accordingly, the last three days were all much shorter walks, coming in at just under fifteen miles each. This meant that I had no issues about trying to cram x miles into only y hours and so could afford to have a lie-in and catch up on some Zzz.

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CC – Dunvegan to Portree

Hasteful MammalBREAKFAST in my Dunvegan B&B was a communal affair that could have easily been an awkward occasion as the mostly English guests avoided talking to each other. We were saved from silent discomfort by two things — firstly the rampant idiosyncrasy of our landlady, which prompted remark (from me at least as she decided I was sat in the wrong seat and made me move) and secondly that amongst our number were a couple from New York, for whom embarrassed reticence was quite literally something that only happened to other people. Panicked by their attempts to chat with total strangers, we took refuge in non-committal answers and trying to hide behind the marmalade…

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CXCIII – Kyle of Lochalsh to Isleornsay

Hasteful MammalI AWOKE on the fifth day of my May ’18 walking trip serenaded by the patter of rain. This made the day relatively simple as I had a wet weather plan and a dry weather plan and now I didn’t need to agonise over how dry ‘dry’ actually was. Thus, when I emerged from my hotel, full of cheer and hearty breakfast, I knew what route I would take. It began with the A87, which would carry me off the British mainland and onto the Isle of Skye (An t-Eilean Sgitheanach).

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CXCII – Invershiel to Kyle of Lochalsh

Hasteful MammalDAY four of my May ’18 trip began with a surprising absence of shuffling discomfort. My legs, feet and dodgy knee all appeared to have forgiven me for the 28-miler I’d inflicted on them the day before. Hurrying, lest they change their tune, I fuelled myself up with a hearty breakfast in advance of this day’s efforts. Fully fed, I then took stock of the weather conditions.

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CXCI – Kinlochhourn to Invershiel

Hasteful 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 Kinlochhourn 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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