Thursday 7th November – on my own
22.55 miles … 46, 646 steps … 8 hours 48 minutes … 3,405 calories
As we slept in Bablu we were aware of the heavy rain and strong winds through the night. Thankfully the rain had stopped by 8am and despite a cold NE wind it was a good start to the day.
I made good progress over yet another Golf course in Brora, although I was rather amused to see cattle grazing on it.
A little later on I realised they had an electric fence round all of the greens, so it must have been intentional. Progress thereafter was slower than usual, due to walking on sand, gravel, cobbled stones, seaweed and through sand dunes.
As forewarned, there were significant river crossings today, accentuated by last night’s rain. I could jump over one or two, but decided just to walk through the bigger, deeper ones, so wet feet for most of the day.
Fiona had a productive morning in Bablu, with pretty good office views…
I met Fiona about 1pm in Helmsdale for half an hour’s lunch in Bablu.
Fiona joined me for the first half hour of the afternoons walk. We saw a couple of grey seal pups. Earlier in the day I’d seen two dead seal pups and believe it or not a dead deer on the beach. We kept our distance from these pups.
I continued to walk along stony beaches and came across huge numbers of seals and their pups, which I assumed had been washed up in last night’s storm. But Fiona met a marine medic on her way back to the van, who said this was pupping time for the grey seals. The older, wiser mothers give birth higher up the beach, even in the bracken well above the shore. Here they are safe from storms and the mother seal returns at high tide to feed the pup for about 6 weeks, then the pup is old enough to be weaned and hunt their own food. She also talked about the Moray Orca Pod – Number 27 who are around these waters often.
I’d never seen so many seals before, and they were becoming increasingly aggressive as I walked along the beach, so I headed up the cliff, as there were no markings for the footpath. I scrambled up through bracken and then thick gorse, before eventually finding the path again. By then I had lost one of Fiona’s gloves (they were excellent ones from Angie too!). I was getting a bit tired and the path was not getting any easier. It was very uneven underfoot, very boggy and slippery and with poor markings. I was behind schedule by now and the days are closing in, so light was becoming a problem.
I managed to negotiate a steep ravine without incident, but as light deteriorated, so did my speed along the path. I phoned Fiona, who I knew would be starting to worry, to say I’d not be in til 6ish.
Thankfully I managed to get back safely to Berridale, with tired limbs, tired body and anxious wife. Thank you, Lord, for protection for the day, every day is an adventure. I was very pleased to be back in Bablu, safe and sound for a hot meal and a G&T to calm Fiona’s nerves…
(It was very interesting with John being so late, tricky times do make me depend on God far more than easy times … I suppose that has been the case throughout the history of the world! As the moon was shining brightly, I was reminded of the verse which talks about Jesus being the light to our dark world…. Ed)