CCXLVI – Montrose to Arbroath

Helpful MammalTHE final day of my mid-September 2023 trip saw me alighting from a train at Montrose railway station at an unsociably early hour, keen to continue southwards towards Arbroath. The weather felt slightly less warm than it had been but the skies were mostly clear and good conditions were forecast, so my sartorial choice of a t-shirt and shorts was not being brought into question. Except, maybe, for the small but excruciating detail that said shorts would potentially bring my legs into full contact with every single stinging nettle on the route. Again.

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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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CCXLIII – Aberdeen Loop

Helpful Mammal I RETURNED to the great grey granite city of Aberdeen just before mid-September in a largely successful bid to get a few days of walking in before the weather changed from summery to autumnal. A train journey lasting several hours conveyed me north from London and it was early evening when I finally alighted at Aberdeen station.  From there, it was a very short walk to check in at my hotel, after which I was faced with the question of what to do with the rest of my evening. The obvious answer was to find food and go over my plan for the following morning’s walk. What I actually did was go for a walk right there and then. In the rain.

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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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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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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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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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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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CCXX – Tongue to Bettyhill

Hasteful MammalFOLLOWING my thirty-miler from Durness to Tongue, I slept the sleep of the absolutely steam-rollered. Come the next morning, my body was not at all keen to stop sleeping and carry on with the walking part of my walking trip.

I couldn’t blame it.

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