Possibly the best day of my journey so far. I started with a 5 mile walk alongside the Cromarty firth from Jemimaville to Cromarty, a vast expanse of water between the Black Isle and Easter Ross – the tide was out and a cruise ship had the weird appearance of carving it’s way along the land.
I walk more easily these days, stopping regularly and striding out in between.
I arrived in Cromarty in what seemed no time at all – I sat on some steps next to the beach and with some notion I was the luckiest man alive to be on a quest such as this, I began to look at my emails.
A woman swam by…. The lovely novelty of it just added to the day.
A beautiful tall, lithe dog bounded over. I greeted him – and he pissed on my bag.
“You own this now” I shouted to his very apologetic owner.
“It’s had worse,” I smiled as I remembered the blood sweat and ticks that spread themselves over darth the younger.
Steve, I think I can say without fear of contradiction, was the only black guy in the village. Zeus, his dog, was very much in love with a bitch down the road and was keen to let her know he was available for the purposes of escorting and puppy production.
Over the past couple of days I’d been staying with a member of the Black Isle Transition Group who are keen to develop all things green in the area – they had been struggling a bit because they felt there was very much an atmosphere of us (the indigenous population) and them (the White settlers – the newcomers) they had been having difficulty in getting their message across.
On the back of this I was keen to hear Steve’s tale.
He was from Brighton originally and had spent some time in London working as a personal trainer. He was up in these parts doing something similar.
I asked how he found the locals.
He went on to tell me about his little bit of community involvement – how he walked around Cromarty twice a day – popping into the pub at lunchtime to buy a paper.
He also ran the local football team. He was also astonishingly friendly – we chatted about all things mental health – I suggested that 1 in 4 of the population have had such problems. He reckoned it was higher – folk just don’t talk about it.
Friendly, interested, interesting and involved – I felt the transition group could learn from this guy.
I walked on through Cromarty – my only knowledge of the place was the shipping weather forecast on radio 4. It’s a beautiful old fishing village and trading port – although the beauty remains, the work has gone.
I wandered into a pub – run by locals – patronised by folk passing through – me – an older couple on a walking holiday – a couple of guys who were part of a larger group of triumph drivers making their way around the highlands and islands and an Indian couple, living in Cairo , doing a tour of the UK.
It was lovely – the atmosphere in the place just meant that everyone got a little slice of everyone else.
As I walked up the hill away from the village I received a text – it was from Stewart who I’d stayed with earlier in the week – his partner, Teen, had written a press release about walk a mile, and it had been printed on page 3 of the Ross-Shire Journal
I texted him back – saying something like I’m glad they went with the topless photo…
Cheap and predictable – I wouldn’t have me any other way.
I got to the to of the hill where I met Steve and Zeus again. The dog thought about pissing on my backpack again – but appeared puzzled to find he’d already been there.
With a cheery farewell I was on my way.
The walk was wonderful – I could see the Cromarty Firth to my right and the Moray Firth to my left – an absolutely stunning piece of Scottish countryside.
I’d been following a single track road for most of the way (I saw less than 10 cars over the 14 miles or so) – I was a little concerned that I’d be walking on a main road for the last couple of miles.
I need not have worried. Instead of taking the high road – I found a small sign pointing to “The Fairy Glen”.
Well, it would be rude not to.
Enchanted? Oh yes. See below.
The fairy glen is a beautiful wooded stream with a series of waterfalls and rapids with a carefully designed walkway that allowed me to get right in about it.
The sounds, the smells…delicious.
I met Pete and Louise, also grinning like idiots at the fairy-glenness of it all – they had come across this place 5 years ago and they’d made a 150 mile detour just to pop by. I could see why.
Walking my final leg towards Fortrose, I saw a vaguely familiar face approaching me.
“Helloooooooo!!” Spencey shouted, still some way off.
We’d met the day before on the track where I’d taken 2 steps forward and 2 back.
“You’re a right cheery fucker, what are ye up tae?”
I told him my story while he confessed to being “…a bit pished…”.
I told him about being on page three …
“Did ye have tae get yer tits oot?”
I said something about them being a bit hairy, but in the right light….
“Can ah take a photie wi’ yuh?”
And so we did – he chucked some money in my direction and promised to join the group.
What an absolutely brilliant day!
Keep them coming.
Walk a mile