Sunday, 24 May 2015

Kildary to Tain

Stuart and Elinor had eaten with us the previous evening, but had stayed at the Royal Hotel in central Tain, as the Carnegie Lodge was fully booked with cyclists on their way to John O’Groats. In any case, the previous day had been their last, so only John and Susan were available to accompany me. Susan had a blister in the ball of one foot and an inexplicable black big toe on the other, so it was just down to John and myself.

The view down over the Firth of Cromarty
This was to be a short day, since we could start from the point in Scotsburn (or was it Marybank?) where we’d turned off for Kildary the day before. So it was a simple matter of getting Susan to take us back up the road from Tain, after which we would just go back down the same route. All rather silly, it seems in retrospect, but my objective is, after all, to walk the whole way from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The road from Scotsburn to Tain starts by passing a series of detached houses in an area, according to the map, called Lamington. These are nearly all fairly new and large, with expensive cars parked in their driveways. Lots of horses, too. So presumably they’re largely residents’ houses rather than holiday homes. It’s difficult to understand why this area is so apparently affluent. 

A smartly dressed local resident.
Perhaps it was the offshore oil industry that brought wealth to the area: if so, they must be suffering now given the recent downturn of the North Sea now that the fields are depleted and the price of oil has collapsed. I’d thought that it was Aberdeen that got the lion’s share of the wealth generated by the industry, but it must be more widespread. Nigg, after all, has a lot of offshore related industry, and so too must Invergordon, and there are half a dozen or more oil rigs moored in the Firth of Cromarty.

After this it was a stretch through woodland, where we were offered the alternative of paths to the North. We could have taken them had we wanted to extend the walk, but our preference was to get back early and do some local exploring for the rest of the day.

The wooded part of the walk back to Tain 
The final stretch into the outskirts of Tain were through farmland and then a number of houses far less grand than those we’d passed in Lamington. And then it was through the housing estate outside the A9 bypass, and back to our hotel only a little after 11:00. There were a few spots of rain as we approached the A9, but otherwise it was largely a bright and pleasant morning’s walk. And the time passed even more rapidly given the excellent company provided by John Poulter.

With the walk taking only half a day there was time to go in to Dornoch to see the cathedral and have lunch, and then to explore the coast as far North as Brora. Which was just as well, as it gave us an opportunity to see the Sutherland Inn in Brora, which is right on the main road. Further research suggested that this had declined to a dramatic extent, so we were able to cancel our booking and get in to what seems like a much more satisfactory alternative.

We shall see!

Bright, but with a fair amount of cloud, and occasional few shower. 12 to 15C. 7.51 km, largely level – only 41 m of ascents and 68 m of descents. All on minor roads.

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