Walk completed August 28, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 85 – Golspie to Helmsdale – 17 miles

Once again I was pleasantly surprised to find that the day of roadwalking I had expected turned out to be half a day on a coastal footpath and beach and only half a day on the A9 road. Further, the A9 was not as busy as I had anticipated, so all in all it turned out to be a good day.

Dunrobin Castle
The coastal path out of Golspie was a nicely trimmed grass path. I didn’t see any sheep droppings, so the trimming must have been done mechanically. I could hear some traffic and an occasional train to the west, but they were mostly shielded by trees. To my east, of course, was the sea. The path passed beneath Dunrobin Castle, the home of the Earl of Sutherland, and reputed to be the largest castle in Northern Scotland, or maybe all of Scotland. Or maybe it’s the largest occupied castle. I’m sure it’s got something to distinguish it from all the other castles in Scotland. The castle is open for tours, but with 17 miles to cover today, I didn’t have the time or energy to spare for a tour.

Amanda and Wendy
Amanda and Wendy were sitting on a rock as I went by. Never one to miss an opportunity for a geography lesson, I asked them to point out some landmarks so I could orient myself. In the near distance was Dornoch on the other side of Loch Fleet, and beyond that, barely visible during the day but whose lights are visible at night, was Tain, across the Dornoch Firth. We couldn’t see Brora to the north, because an intervening point jutted out into the sea. John O’Groats was just ahead, still obscured by the curvature of the earth. Secure in the knowledge that I was heading in the right direction, I continued on.

Andy, Cheryl, Maia and Malachi
When the footpath ended, I moved down to the beach, where the wet sand was firm enough for easy walking. The receding tide had left exposed rocks, and seals balanced themselves on the rocks as they often do. Along came a family of seal hunters, armed with a camera and two children eager to see some seals. We had a nice chat, and they headed on to stalk their game.

Beachfront garden in Brora
Beyond Brora, the footpath climbed into the grassy sand dunes and ran along the perimeter of a golf course until the beach ended at a rocky shore. Rather than try to navigate through a long rocky beach, I stepped over a fence, crossed the railroad tracks, and stepped over another fence onto the A9 road. My intention was to walk the A9 until it rejoined the sandy beach shown on my map, but there was so little traffic and I moved so fast, that I passed the obvious point to return to the beach. As the beach receded farther and farther from the road, I just stayed on the road all the way to Helmsdale.

© 2011 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. Scenery gets better and better, beautiful castle and interesting garden idea in the boat, Enjoy your last miles.