Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Day 4 Dornoch to Alness

Monday 23rd August 2010

After a hot shower and a whopping breakfast my legs, which had felt quite stiff when I got up from the dinner table the previous evening, now felt remarkably fresh and I was to keen to put in another day of good mileage. Fortunately early morning rain ceased just before I hit the road, but it was overcast and grey, so after a couple of hundred yards I thought it best to stop and put on my high visibility vest.

I set off at a good speed and after crossing the windswept bridge over the Dornoch Firth and passing the Glenmorangie distillery I stopped at a shop in Tain to buy food and drink for the day. Without stopping at Tain for a rest I continued straight on, leaving the A9 and heading towards Alness on The Scotsburn Road. This quiet rural road wasn't particularly interesting, passing through forests and typical agricultural land, but it was peaceful and made a welcome change from the HGVs and speeding traffic on the A9.

On the Scotsburn Road a kind Scotsman in a camper van pulled over and offered me a lift to Inverness if I was going that way, I politely declined after explaining what I was doing. At this stage of the walk my temptation to accept the lift on a scale of 0 to 10 was a resolute 0. After walking the first 6 miles or so of The Scotsburn Road I stopped to rest and eat lunch, while tucking into my sandwiches and reading my book light rain began to fall on my back. This was when I realised I had my first problem of the walk, I went into my rucksack to get my waterproofs, but the jacket, which rolls up into a small net about the size of a cricket ball, was missing. When leaving Dornoch earlier I had made sure it was at the top ready for quick retrieval as rain was forecast, but I must have knocked it out of the rucksack and gone on my way without realising during one of my two stops earlier. Turning back was out of the question, I pressed on towards Alness at a good rate of speed as the rain gradually got heavier.

As soon as I made town I walked up and down the high street looking for a shop that sells outdoor gear but there was nothing suitable. After taking shelter for a while at the train station I decided to retreat to a pub and wait for the rain to stop. Three hours, three pints and a hot meal later it was becoming clear that the rain had set in for the night. My 25 mile target for the day was now out of the question. In the evening gloom I sneaked off to a field next to the Alness Point Enterprise Park and camped for the night. In typical "sod's law" fashion it was to rain continuously for 16 hours from the moment I realised the jacket was lost.

GPS data; click here

Mileage today; 23.24 miles, walking time 5 hrs 48 mins, average walking speed 4.0mph.

Weather; A dull morning, then rain. Max 16C

Cumulative mileage; 111.79 miles.

Arriving in Tain
The Scotsburn road, a welcome reief from the busy A9
'Twenty's Plenty' in wet Alness. Are they trying to tell me something about my daily mileage?

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Hi :) I'm a 49yo father of three from Exmouth, a lovely seaside town in Devon. In parts of Exeter I'm well known as the local milkman where I've been making traditional doorstep deliveries for 15 years.