After all the chicanery of the last couple of weeks it was great to finally walk out of this particular northern town.
Don’t get me wrong, Golspie had been kind to us – 2 weeks ago, just prior to my last spinout, we’d been given somewhere comfortable to camp with access to a loo overnight.
And last night, we met a couple of folk who jumped at the chance of becoming part of our merry band – that’s always a fine thing.
Back on the road though – I still have little niggling thoughts of what triggered my last episode?
Uncle don? The fast moving traffic on the a9 the day before? Deep and meaningful chat with lou the day before?
The truth is it was potentially all and potentially none of the above. Trying to work out the causes now is folly. There lies insanity…
Er….you know what I mean.
Leaving Golspie behind, we were both aware that settlements were going to be few and far between – Brora in 6 miles – Helmsdale in 17 (17 miles on your first day back, carrying a 60 pound back pack, surely….?).
It was a beautiful day – bit of sun, bit of cloud and a bit of s breeze made the conditions perfect.
The banter was great – after hearing about what the excesses of irn bru can do to I mans will, mind, body and soul, I agreed to take a break from the wonderful orange elixir of life from tomorrow.
If tomorrow’s blog reads something like ,”got up, went for a walk, put up the tent, ” you’ll know why.
The scenery was stunning – moving from rocky harbours into golden sandy bays and back again. Away from the sea the hills were becoming a bit more weatherbeaten, with less and vegetation as we go north.
That said there were still enough sheep, cows, sheeplets and cowlets, terns, osprey impersonators, gulls and crows of every description to keep us entertained.
The walking is a bit of a challenge, walking into traffic on the narrow a9, the only road north, with traffic zipping by at anything up to 20 thousand miles an hour (I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate…) feels threatening and certainly keeps the levels of stress higher than I’d have liked.
Brora came and went. Notable for singularly the weakest, most insipid, potato and leek soup I’ve ever had. We threw bits of sandwich in it to make it more exciting.
At this point we had no idea of what lay ahead.
We’d walked the 6 miles to Brora with a skip in our steps and songs in our hearts – the “11” miles to Helmsdale well….well, it just wasn’t 11 miles to be honest.
In total we walked about 10 hours with a few of short breaks.
It was me who hit the wall first. I needed more and more breaks – when lou went ahead to find somewhere to eat in Helmsdale I decided to offer myself up to the road gods and become a speed bump.
Hitting the wall is weird. I’m still conscious, aches and pains aside I still felt fine, it’s just that my body was saying ‘there’s nothing in the tank.”
The carrot for me was receiving the text from lou that she was drinking an ice could pint in the wonderful bannockburn inn.
Once there – once we had calories forging through our veins – everything became slightly hilarious. The peak of this was when lou did the old “smell this” joke with a pot of sour cream herb dip. What didn’t end up on my face flew across the room narrowly missing the german group sitting next to us.
We hobbled backwards and forwards to the loo looking like we’d been victims of a hit and run from an 80 year old man called tam driving a steam roller.
Susan, the proprietor took pity. Not content with offering us a piece of land on which we could stick our tents, she finally cracked and said, “you could have the bunk beds”.
I don’t think I’ve ever been happier – we limped with joy.
Today? Today we will eat more – drink more – and walk less.
The 17 miles turned out to be somewhere in the region of 23. I won’t be falling for that again….
Or will I ?
Tune in tomorrow…
It’s great to be back.
Walk a Mile folks