Today: 21.4 miles
Total so far: 1651.1 miles
Percentage Completed: 97.9%
(Click map to enlarge)
Even totally exhausted, I sleep badly, waking every hour or so in the near daylight nights of the far midsummer North. I do not have much fresh water, as the water collected looks very murky with a lot of bodies in it. Breakfast is in the soft drizzle and breeze - but I am thankful for the breeze as otherwise the pitch would be alive with midges.
I leave quite late, for a camping night, and struggle to find a rhythm along the 'forest' tracks (the forests have all been cut down and lain to rot to bring the bird life back to Caithness.)
I make the rails just before Altnabreac Station and meet two chaps who inspect the rails, who are waiting for their lift back to civilisation. When it comes, it is a Landrover adapted to run on train tracks! The perfect vehicle for around these parts.
They think I have a hell of a day ahead and I believe them as I have heard on my mobile from Derek and he advises me to get indoors as there are severe weather warnings all over northern Scotland.
I resolve to make for Halkirk; quite a bit ahead of schedule, but a chance to wash my boggy socks and have a bed where the mattress doesn't move when I turn over as it did last night.
The day, thankfully, is on forest tracks and minor roads and so I make good time, but still taking time to sit at the RSPB benches and admire the bird life. Waders and northern visitors make up the best part of the day - appropriate really, after the last couple of days.
Hills to the South of More Flow Country!
As I head north once more, the clouds lift and I can sense the sea air. Gulls become more frequent and after Westerdale the Flow Country reverts to agriculture once more, with highland cattle and cow-parsley for company on the lonely little road north to Halkirk. As I cross the level crossing and arrive at the village, a large sign proclaims quite proudly that Halkirk was “the first Scottish Planned Village".
Now I haven't seen all of Halkirk, it has to be said, but I do hope that the villages that followed learned from the mistakes made here. It appears to be a dismal little place laid out unsympathetically on a grid pattern. There’s not a lot of colour here.
But now, I am in the "Ulbster Arms Hotel" - surely a spelling mistake was made somewhere in the dim & distant past? The St Emillion is going down very well and the lamb was perfect.
A rather good end to a rather difficult two days.