Walking Lands End to John o'Groats - Latheron Tuesday 16 June 2015
Miles walked today: 29
Total miles: 998
The two young women sitting in the coffee shop in Helmsdale are admiring my legs: "That's a fine tan you have on your legs there." I move to give them a better view. The second one says, "Is that a Scottish tan?" "Some of it is," I reply. It's a familiar problem for me. Young - and not so young - women are unable to resist my lean good looks. I'm going have to carry a stick to fend them off...
My day starts with a walk along the beach from Brora. Golden sands stretch almost as far as I can see. The sky and sea merge almost seamlessly in a palette of blues and greys with touches of creamy white where the sun threatens to break through. I have to join the A9 (the road follows the shore quite closely most of the time) but am able to get back onto the beach again for a while before scrambling over the railway back again onto the road.
Helmsdale is much as I remember it. I think of Jimmy MacKay while drinking my coffee and eating a slice of apple pie outside the cafe in the sun. I couldn't stay inside - it might have been too much for all the females within.
The afternoon isn't so much fun. It's road all the way to Dunbeath, where I'm hoping to find a bed for the night. The forecast is for rain in the afternoon, and sure enough it arrives. I walk on the right side of the road, where the verge is wide enough to jump onto when cars and trucks go past. Unlike earlier, I also get a free shower every so often. Most drivers are good and give me a wide berth, but not all. I make appropriate gestures when necessary.
At Dunbeath I am directed to a B&B / campsite. The woman at reception seems to think I'm an imbecile for not booking a room but I remember my top ten walking tips (number four from the 30th of May) and smile politely when she tells me she has no bed. I could camp but it's pouring down. Her husband gives me the business card of somewhere three miles further north and I call:
who answer their phone and confirm that they have a room. There's no pub or shop but... they can provide an evening meal.
I arrive at Margaret and Brian's home very wet and bedraggled but they take great care of me. Later in the evening I see that Ken's mates John and Martin have donated - thank you so much :)
Kenonymous's latest: Have a jar of Skull Splitter this eve. It says it's got a tight smooth head with hints of red & amber - that's you, that is!! (It also says it has a fruity, juicy character....so maybe not.) www.sinclairbreweries.co.uk/draught_skull_splitter.html Thanks again O.S.
I will probably head for Wick tomorrow as I took a different route last time and have never been there. Another name to tick off the list. Not far now...