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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CCXXXIII – Inverness to Ardersier

Hasteful MammalAFTER a five-month hiatus during which the weather delivered heatwaves that would have been hell to try to walk in, I returned to Inverness amid cooler autumnal conditions that also threatened to be damper. I was back in Scotland for four days of walking, having finally devised a way to break what would otherwise have been a nine or ten-day trip from Inverness to Aberdeen

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CCXXXII – Dingwall to Inverness

Hasteful MammalON THE Fifth of May 2022, I breakfasted in Dingwall in the small but splendid hall of Tulloch Castle Hotel after a night quite unhaunted by the ghostly Green Lady, for whom the hotel bar is named (well, that is where its spirits are found). Indeed, the only tortured soles causing me apprehension were those on the bottom of my feet, which were making a valiant effort to inform me that my hiking shoes needed replacing. Not tomorrow or the next day but today. And yesterday would have been far better.

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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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CCIII – Sligachan to Kyleakin

Hasteful MammalTHE previous day’s walk may have ended ended in grey raininess but the third day of September 2018 began with mostly bluish skies and sunshine, though a crisp bite to the air had developed. As I stepped from my hotel, I was confronted with the sight of the Cuillin veiled lightly in thin, misty haze.

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CCII – Flodigarry to Sligachan

Helpful 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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CCI – Portree to Flodigarry

Helpful 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

Helpful 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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CXCIX – Carbost to Dunvegan

Helpful 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

Helpful 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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