Day 254: Nigg to Culbokie
Distance: 23.44 miles
Ascent: 828 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells with a few Moderate Showers
Accommodation: Wild camp near Culbokie
The bird hide had sheltered me well last night, though I was up fairly early. I had thought it might be cold last night so had kept my fleece on in my sleeping bag (first time in about 6 months) and I am glad I did as I was a good temperature and would have been cold without it. The hide was still being battered by the wind and rain but the rain was forecast to stop soon and the wind should drop over the day to a lighter but still moderately strong breeze. I made a cup of tea and had my breakfast and was on my way.
Today was an unusual one as almost the entire day was on roads, some which could be busy, and I was not looking forward to it. The first set of roads took me along B roads which were very busy and with very fast moving traffic, presumably all the workers for the renewable warehouse at Nigg. I reached the A9 which at this point I just had to cross and this was hard enough and took about 10 minutes waiting for a gap, and this made me anxious as in a few miles time I was proposing to join this road. Anyway I re went under the A9 and onto a quieter road that took me first through Milton before it drops down to hug the coast and eventually reaches Invergordon.
I got some supplies in Invergordon and stopped briefly in a café with the idea to charge things up but it got busy so felt I had to leave to make space long before stuff was charged. Fortunately, unknown to me, there was a segregated path from Invergordon to Alness which was a good thing as the road was very busy. As I crossed over the A9 which I was supposed to join here it took literally 10s for me to decide it was unwalkable so I came up with a second plan which followed roads and tracks just a little further inland.
Just on the ourtskirts of Alness I spotted a Morrisons so decided this was my chance to charge everything up. In fact, I decided I would stay here for an hour because as well as charging I needed to plot and pdf maps for the next 2 days and would try to extend them so that I could reach Inverness by Friday evening. I grabbed a drink and got on with the admin. A woman came over and looked at the poster and gave a donation and then she bought a Morrisons employee back with her (June the community liaison officer I think was her title) who very kindly had a chat with me and then offered me some vouchers that I could use at other Morrisons on the walk and also offered to let me have anything to take away with me. The second offer I couldn’t really take her up on as my bag was already stuffed having stopped at a shop only an hour before, but I did have a little slice of strawberry cheesecake which went down really well. We had a photo together and then I was on my way. I am very grateful for the kindness at the Morrisons.
The next part following B roads instead of the A9 was much better than I expected as there was a segregated path for 4 miles or so to Evanton. It decided to rain a couple of times on this stretch moderately hard but only once heavily and fortunately I was passing a barn at this stage so stepped inside and out of the heavy rain until it stopped about 10 minutes later. After Evanton the segregated route disappeared but by this point the traffic was very light and on reaching a farm I followed a couple of gravel tracks down and across the railway before joining the A9 just before Cromarty Bridge.
During planning I had thought Cromarty Bridge was uncrossable due to no pavement, but it turns out the google maps image was taken during works when an extra safety barrier completely blocked off the footway but in reality and as per today there is a pavement. This was good as it meant I could cross and fortunately the wind had dropped as I would not have wanted to cross this 1.5 mile bridge in the wind yesterday.
I had hoped to pitch just after the bridge and found a nicenfield with moderately short grass and after doing two laps to check there were no cows and checking for any fresh cowpats (there were a very few old dry ones) I decided it was safe to pitch here sheltered from any wind by the trees.
Ermm, I think today goes down as one of those not really enjoyable days due to the roads, but instead is just a link between sections. But saying that it went pretty much as well as I could have hoped.