Day 97 – Dingwall to Tain

My feet hurt. I mean REALLY hurt. Today’s walk was long (by my estimate around 24 miles) and all on roads. My efforts to try and get off the road for short periods came to naught – every track or footpath marked on the map was nonexistent on the ground. So, it was a long day on tarmac, with the result that my feet, ankles and knees are now all buzzing slightly. I’m hoping chocolate will cure all ills.
For most of the day I followed a marked cycle route (route number 1), which stayed away from the A9 and headed northeast on fairly quiet roads. There was still a bit of traffic, though, and I had a bit of a near miss with an over-enthusiastic school bus (I didn’t leap into the mud-filled ditch fast enough, it didn’t slow down).
I haven’t done any walking north of Inverness before, and the countryside was much less wild and more fertile-looking than I had expected: lots of golden wheat and cows. There were some nice views down across the Cromarty Firth towards the so-called Black Isle (not black, and not an island), and as I got further north the oil rigs near Cromarty came into view.
I stopped for lunch in Alness and had a truly excellent coffee and a panini (panino?) at the Cafe Picante on the High Street. Not cheap, but worth it – the coffee made me feel like I’d been brought back from the dead and I forgot all about my feet!
After lunch, and a quick stop at the Co-op to pick up some dinner for tonight, it was back on the cycle route, along some quieter roads towards Scotsburn. A friend phoned and I was so enjoying the conversation that I ‘overshot’ and missed my turnoff, and had to retrace a few yards feeling a little foolish.
The place I was staying was in Aldie, just outside Tain on the A9, which meant I had a slightly longer walk to get there. But when I eventually hobbled in, tired, thirsty and desperate to take my boots off, it was worth it – a lovely big room with views out over the countryside, a palatial bathroom and a kitchenette. It was extremely nice to eat a home-cooked meal, even if it was only soup and a microwave curry!
My feet and legs are very sore and stiff – it really feels as if, now that the end of the walk is in sight, bits of my body have just decided to give up. I have another long day tomorrow up to Golspie, but I’m hoping I can do more off it off-road. Fingers crossed.

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