CCXXVII – Wick to Lybster

Hasteful MammalTHE last day of April 2022 began with my awakening early enough to be downstairs and ready to eat the very moment breakfast service began in my hotel. Then, pleasingly filled with both bacon and enthusiasm, I headed outside to walk through Wick and then southwards to Lybster, the name of which I had as yet no idea how  to pronounce (it’s ‘libe-ster’ not ‘lib-ster’).  

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CCXXVI – Wick Loop via Ackergill and Noss Head

Hasteful MammalAT THE end of April 2022, I returned to Caithness to not so much continue my coastal circumperambulation as to cover the cracks.  Windy conditions and poor visibility had kept me off the shoreline and on public roads on my last walk and, as a result, there were a couple of things I’d missed out that I would rather have not done. I aimed to fix that with a circular walk, starting and ending in Wick.

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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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CCXXIV – Dunnet to John o’ Groats

Hasteful MammalA LITTLE over a week ago, as I write this, I awoke in my hotel room in Dunnet and threw back the curtains to find a cloudy sky and puddles on the ground. The heavy rain, forecast to appear for an hour the previous day, had stubbornly remained through the night. But, while it had clearly continued until not long before I awoke, I was pleased to see that it had finally stopped, which meant I could start on my trek for the day…

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CCXXIII – Thurso to Dunnet

Hasteful MammalAFTER a two-year hiatus in consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was with relief, joy and not a little trepidation – after all, just how out of practice would I be? ― that I resumed my perambulatory pastime in early March 2022, returning to Thurso to continue clockwise along the coast…

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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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CCVIII – Shieldaig to Poolewe

Hasteful 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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CCIV – Kyleakin to Strathcarron

Hasteful MammalFOR reasons I’ll dub ‘the Three Ws’ — work, weather and walking-related injury — a six-month gap interceded between my last trip and this one. But March 2019 presented me with a window of opportunity. It was a narrow window and made no efficient or economic sense but that hardly mattered. I thus spent two days almost entirely on trains (i.e. there and back) for one single day of walking. I was, you might say, getting back on track…

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CCI – Portree to Flodigarry

Hasteful MammalTHE first day of September 2018 saw me back in Portree, wondering what had happened to the blazing sunshine in which I’d travelled the day before. A band of low cloud had swept in overnight and was filling the air with the sort of misty drizzle that isn’t so much rain as floaty dampness.

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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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