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Day 67 (12.7 miles)

Lairg to Crask Inn

Walked along the A836.

That is all!!

[It’s not as busy as you’d expect, I’ve walked along busier ‘C’ roads. In fact the A836 it a single track road with passing places]

Some stats:
Mileage count: 1,167.6
Pint count: 252
economy: 37.1mpg
Malt Whisky count: 26

Day 66 (13.3 miles)

Bonar Bridge to Lairg

An easy walk on paper today. So I had a lie in and asked for brekky at 8:30, I was out and on the road for 9:30.

The weather was as they say in these parts “dreich” – cold, dark, miserable, drizzly 🙁

I’d be walking on roads the whole time (not worth risking anything more adventurous after yesterday). I crossed back over Bonar bridge towards Ardgay (pronounced; ‘r’ guy). I walked along the westside of the ‘Kyle of Sutherland’ with the railway for company.

My aim was to walk on the quietest roads and cross the river again on the Invershin bridge (see Photo of the Day). It’s a railway bridge with a steel pedestrian walkway bolted to the side (probably not everyone’s cup of tea).

After that more roads (less quiet), north passed ‘The Falls of Shin’ – I stopped for a quick look with the midges – and then onto Lairg.

As I was so early into Lairg I managed to have lunch, a shower & get all my washing done before ‘Pointless’. I may not take my ‘rest day’ tomorrow, but might walk to the ‘Crask Inn’ instead.

A note about the next few days:
I’m off into the wilds of the Highlands of Scotland, I’ll be ‘wild camping’ for 3 nights… no beer, no proper food, probably no sleep….
So, I may not have any/very good phone signal. So (1) live tracking may not work (2) I may not be able to update my blog.
SO DON’T WORRY!! I’m booked into a hotel in Watten on Tuesday night. Normal Service should resume by then xx

Some stats:
Mileage count: 1,154.9
Pint count: 247
economy: 37.4mpg
Malt Whisky count: 24

Day 65 (28.8 miles)

Dingwall to Bonar Bridge

I may have spoken too soon about the last 8 miles being “easily doable”, but more about that later.

When I checked into the hotel last night I was sure they’d said ‘breakfast starts at 7:30’. – As usual, on a long day, I was keen to get an early start and went down to breakfast at about 7:20… The breakfast room was full !! (Everyone must have had the same idea as me :-/ )

I was quite looking forward to today. An easy morning road section, then I’d be able to gain some height and test my ‘moorland legs’ ready for the next few days in the Highlands.

The walk this morning was very similar to yesterday afternoon’s. Quiet country roads (although not as quiet, I had to play ‘chicken’ with the traffic on the B9176). After that my route turned north west up ‘Strath Rusdale’ this road is a dead end – it was still pretty busy – after walking to it’s end the last 8-10 miles began…

My objective was to climb through the trees up onto the moor, cross the moor to a bridge into more trees, then up and over Church Hill, descend to a road, walk along then arrive in Bonar Bridge. (Sounds simple)

Now there is definitely a path marked on the OS Landranger through the trees. I consider myself to be a moderately experienced walker and can testify that there is definitely NO path on the ground. (Slightly annoying)

Then the moor….what an ordeal. I’ve crossed Bleaklow in Derbyshire a number of times using different taxing routes, but nothing compares to this. All your favourite moorland nightmares in one place; indistinct path, tussocky grass, heather & lots of bog.

I managed to find the bridge with no problems, then my route (described by my guidebook author) took me ‘through’ the pine plantation. Now these trees are planted pretty close together… what an ordeal (another one). To get out of the wood I had to climb the deer fencing, a first for me, that stuff is pretty high.

Whilst tackling the moorland between the plantation and Church hill I started to feel like I wanted to be somewhere else. Up & over the hill and down to the road. I’ve never felt so relieved to be on a road. That was the worst 8 miles of my life…

A note to anyone considering LEJOG in future. DO NOT use the route I used today 😉

In Bonar Bridge the B&B is great, the pub does great food; steak & ale pie followed by cranachan & a choice of 80 malt whiskies. (no cask ale again though)… I’ll sleep well tonight x

Some stats:
Mileage count: 1,141.6
Pint count: 243
economy: 37.6mpg
Malt Whisky count: 22

Day 64 (28.9 miles)

Drumnadrochit to Dingwall

Today was a really tough day, mentally & physically.

I left the hostel I was staying at, at about 7:15. Now, faced with a stage like today, there’s a quandary to overcome. Should I hang around for somewhere to open for breakfast? or Get on the trail in an effort to get through some of the mind boggling mileage?

Cracking on seemed to be the best option… The GGW follows the A82 for a few miles before a steep ascent up through yet another pine plantation. This is where I met another LEJOGger – this time going the same way as me. It was the famous ‘Squirrel’, I’d heard so much about him on my travels so far – especially on the PW. He’d started on the 26th March and now I’d finally caught him. I got a photo & his Facebook page “82 short walks” (can’t find it now) & I was off (I’d be walking further than him today).

Once on the forestry track at the top of the hill I managed to up the pace, then the mental challenges started. Most of todays route would be on quiet country roads, on these it’s difficult to keep yourself inspired/looking forward to the next bit.. it just goes on & on & on… You never really see anything from a road (Note to car drivers)

The objective today was to cross the River Beauly which flows into the ‘Beauly Firth’ – the estuary conundrums were starting again. It seems a long time since Cornwall…

The physical challenge came from lack of proper breakfast, no available lunch stops and after passing through ‘Muir of Ord’, torrential rain. Luckily the rain came after passing the ‘8 miles to go’ marker. I’ve found that passing 8 miles to go gives me a mental lift, the last 8 miles always seem easily ‘doable’.

The last couple of miles were on really busy ‘A’ roads, I had to turn the tunes on my iPod right up to drown out the traffic. Luckily there’s a cycle path on both the A835 & A862.

After such a hard day on the feet I was glad to reach Dingwall & The National Hotel. Lasagna for dinner, no real ale though 🙁

Some stats:
Mileage count: 1,112.8
Pint count: 241
economy: 36.9mpg
Malt Whisky count: 20

Day 63 (16.3 miles)

Inver Coille to Drumnadrochit

Another freezing cold night under canvas (when is this summer gonna start?)… Didn’t really start to sleep properly until it started to get warmer at 6:00am (alarm set for 7).

We (Andy & I) hit the trail at about 8:15, we were heading for Invermoriston for breakfast, probably about 3miles. When we got there we found the ‘Glen Rowan’ cafe, it was 9:20, problem was the cafe doesn’t open ’til 10. Luckily the very obliging owner opened up especially for us. To celebrate I had 2 x Bacon+Egg baps & 2 x lattes. (Andy had 3 baps)

The climb out of Invermoriston was pretty strenuous, until we reached the decision point. The ‘high route’ or the ‘low route’ – we’d faced the same decision yesterday, but as we were staying at the campsite we had to use the low route to gain access. Today we were free from restriction so chose… … the high route.

The route was tough to say the least, we expected ‘better’ views of Loch Ness, (the views through the pine plantation were fleeting at best). We took some comfort in the fact that it was probably ‘getting us fitter’.

After the high route, we meandered through the rest of the pine plantations & into a more natural, deciduous forest. Then up onto a quiet country road where we would see out the rest of our journey.

Lunch was Bacon&Brie Ciabatta + 3 pints. Dinner was Pork&Chorizo skewers + 2 pint… then maybe some whisky…

Some stats:
Mileage count: 1,083.9
Pint count: 239
economy: 36.3mpg
Malt Whisky count: 18