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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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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CCXXXVIII – Cullen to Banff

Hasteful MammalMID-April, I awoke in my hotel room, about half a mile west of Cullen (Inbhir Cuilinn) proper, ready to begin my second day of a six-day walking trip.  This would be a shorter walk than the day before, at about sixteen miles, and would take me through Cullen itself and onwards to Banff.  That’s the original Scottish Banff, of course, not the Canadian one, which would be a far longer and more challenging walk, what with the ocean and all.

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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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CCIX – Poolewe to Laide

Helpful 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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CCIV – Kyleakin to Strathcarron

Helpful 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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CXCIX – Carbost to Dunvegan

Hasteful MammalTHE fifth morning of my most recent walking trip brought me slight nausea and no desire whatsoever to eat breakfast, a situation I ascribed to insufficient sun hat discipline the day before. My desire to walk multiple miles under what promised to be another day of blazing sunshine was also somewhat eroded but, in that matter, I had little choice. I had a room booked in Dunvegan that evening and my vast array of transport options amounted to Shanks’s pony or begging a lift.

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CXCVIII – Elgol to Carbost

Hasteful MammalMY PLAN for day four of my 2018 June/July trip was thrown into doubt before I even went to bed the previous night. I had originally had a lengthy, roundabout route in mind but was considering making it longer by including a part of the day before’s walk I’d cut out. Further complications were added when breakfast, which I didn’t want to skip — the days being way too hot to eat any kind of substantial lunch — was announced to be at a later hour than I’d hoped for. As it was, the announcement turned out to be a blatant lie; breakfast wouldn’t appear until much, much later than that.

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CLXIX – Campbeltown to Southend

Hasteful MammalI BEGAN the fifth day of my May 2017 trip in Campbeltown on the Kintyre Peninsula. According to the itinerary that I had prepared for myself, I would be walking to Southend, which seemed like quite a challenge. I mean, that’s a walk of roughly 550 miles.  Also, even by my notoriously lax standards, it cuts off an awful lot of coast.

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CXXXIV – Silloth to Bowness-on-Solway

Hasteful MammalON THE second morning of my mid-August trip, I awoke to the grey diffuse light and gentle pitter-patter of the rain that had been promised by the Met Office.  Fortunately, I had prepared for this eventuality by packing waterproof walking gear.  Well, mostly waterproof.  I walked in it anyway

I quickly decided that were I to stay and have breakfast, I’d never go out in the rain.  Instead I’d spend the day in the warm and then catch a bus to Carlisle.  That was hardly the point of my trip, so I forced myself outside.  It was cold. It was wet. But now that I was out in it, I was in fairly high spirits. The road beckoned, promising a damp and drizzly adventure.

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