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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CCXIV – Lochinver to Drumbeg

Hasteful MammalTHE forecast for the third day of my September 2019 trip was once again for intermittent showers. The skies when I awoke were suitably grey, as seen through my hotel window but that was looking westwards. Behind me there was blue and a promising ray of sunshine.

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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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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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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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CCII – Flodigarry to Sligachan

Hasteful MammalON THE second day of September 2018, I awoke on the Isle of Skye in the cottage once lived in by Flora MacDonald (1722-1790), a heroine to the Jacobites and, even more so, to misty-eyed Victorians later wallowing in the romance of a bygone age. Though I’m neither, I could hardly help but appreciate her association with the place, though her cottage played no role in her famous escapade — rowing the fugitive Bonnie Prince Charlie from Benbecula to Skye — as it was her marital home five years after the event.

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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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CXCVII – Broadford to Elgol

Hasteful MammalTWO days into July 2018 and three days into a walking trip, I arose bright and early to find that outside it was brighter (though no earlier) than I was. The grey skies and rain of the previous evening — which had added a level of meteorological mockery after searing heat had prompted route revisions — had dissipated overnight and the air temperature was back to feeling like the inside of an oven. This was brought home to me as I stood on the shoreline, looking across to the harbour pier where I’d stood in the rain twelve hours earlier.

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