Monday 4th November – alone
26.53 miles … 1,870′ ascent … 3,363 calories … 55,240 steps … 7 hours 27 minutes
Two bridges to cross, plenty of navigational errors and another dreich day in the wind and rain.
We set off in good time from the Ferguson’s in the dark, for the start of the John O Groats Coastal Trail from Inverness Castle … and hugging the east coast of Scotland. Sadly, the early start wasn’t so successful as I spent the first 30 minutes walking in the wrong direction, before realising the error of my ways (or was it Fiona’s, still in debate… but forgiven either way …Ed) and returning to the original starting point 1 hour later! The things I do to get my steps up … and the beard sponsorship….
Take 2 … walked down the river to the Kessock Bridge to cross over the Beauly Firth. It was very busy on a long bridge, but not too scary(all relative to later bridges … Ed). From the bridge I followed the coast, walking on seaweed and stones for a while, before reaching the village of Kilmuir.
Here navigational choices were again probably not the best (as Strava followers will no doubt be amused / confused by …), in fact my watch didn’t record ‘Take 2’ to the bridge so I probably did an extra 3Kms… but it did mean I was able to take extra pictures, having borrowed Peter’s phone (don’t tell Peter I have already lost the waterproof cover…) (I’m on it – Ed)
Slightly later then expected due to the navigational misunderstandings, I met up with Fiona and Bablu for a coffee and bite of lunch having just passed Munlochy.
I made very good progress on good side roads before crossing the Cromarty Firth on the Canon road bridge. It was very wet and windy for this section, but I survived despite the efforts of large lorries to soak me with road spray! I met Fiona at the end of the road bridge (worried… Ed), then Carole soon after (Carole cycled the Hebridean Way in September with the IJM team I was supporting with Zoe in September). I did a bit of cross country to avoid the busy A9 road, before following a wet cycle track past Foulis Castle, through Evanton and along minor roads to Alness, where Carole and Fiona walked back to meet me.
Fiona left Bablu in Evanton at ‘Blythswood Care HQ’ for the night, while we are off to Nethy to stay with Carole and Derek tonight in The Croft, their beautiful Highland home, where we were totally spoilt by the log fire, with delicious meals and great company. Relishing the last night in a bed before several in Bablu…