Today started with me cooped up in my tent waiting for the rain to cease, frustrated that I was unable to continue without my lost waterproof jacket. Fortunately I didn't have to wait too long, at around 9-00am the rain seemed to stop, so I packed up my tent, emerged from my soggy field and headed south on the A9. Unsurprisingly the first few miles were an unpleasant and busy stretch of road.
After a while, with light rain falling again, the huge Cromarty Bridge came into view. On my approach I was delighted to see many seals playing in the water and relaxing on the rocks. It was also good news when I saw that this particular bridge actually did have the luxury of a footpath. Halfway across the bridge was reduced to a single narrow lane with temporary traffic lights because of roadworks. When I reached that section one of the workers told me I would only be allowed through with an escort. To my embarrassment all the traffic on this busy A road was halted in both directions while we walked through the narrow zone. Typical British humour came to the fore at this point, the colleagues of the worker who escorted me through made several interesting suggestions, including that perhaps he should escort me all the way to Lands End! As we parted he pointed south and said "keep going that way, it's about 750 miles", I left the bridge with a broad smile. As if to deliberately add to my good mood at that very moment the sky finally began to brighten and the rain stopped too.
After a seemingly never ending gradual uphill slog on another tedious stretch of road I reached the local services at Tore. Here I stopped and took my only break of the day. While I was relaxing in the diner a generous trucker who had asked where I was walking thrust a tenner in my hand for MacMillan Cancer Support.
From Tore I again had the opportunity to leave the A9 and make use of some quiet country lanes. When I had no choice but to rejoin the A9 close to Inverness it was almost like a motorway and I found myself having to cross a very busy section of dual carriageway. Entry to Inverness was via the fine Kessock Bridge, Inverness Caledonian Thistle Football Club's home ground was just over the other side. With the sun shining I wearily made my way to my B&B, I'd made my first landmark city a day earlier than expected and was feeling very happy with my progress so far.
GPS track; click here
Mileage today; 19.92 miles, walking time 5 hrs 2 mins, average walking speed 4.0 mph
Weather; occasional light rain, dry and bright to finish, max 17C
Cumulative mileage; 131.71 miles
|My hideaway for a wet night close to the A9 at Alness|
|About to cross the huge Cromarty Bridge|
|The sun comes out as I enter Inverness via the impressive Kessock Bridge|