Day 99 – Golspie to Portgower

I took a shockingly long time to get going this morning – it feels like the nearer I get to the end, the harder it is to get out of bed in the morning – and it wasn’t until well past 10:30 that I was on my way. The sky was heavy and grey, with a cold wind, but at least it wasn’t raining.
I followed a coastal path and then the beach up to Brora. This was a beautiful stretch, with the sea on one side and the hills on the other. I passed Dunrobin Castle, which looks like something Sleeping Beauty would have been proud of, and got to walk several miles on the hard sand of the beach. It reminded me of the beach walk I did at Hayle, all those many weeks ago, but this was different – a much wilder coastline, with rocks and seaweed everywhere and large flocks of seabirds.
As I continued north, a group of what I had initially taken to be rocks turned out to be about forty-five grey seals, basking at the water’s edge about thirty feet away from me. I was careful not to disturb them, but they didn’t seem that bothered. I was close enough to be able to hear the occasional grunt, and what sounded very much like one seal snoring!
I stopped for lunch in Brora (another meal with chips, but it was delicious) and then headed on. It was colder and windier than it had been in the morning, and I was firmly resolved to stay off the A9 as much as possible. Unfortunately, this meant several slow miles negotiating large rocks on the beach, as well as fording several ankle-deep burns. Despite the beautiful views, after turning my ankle yet again, I looked at my watch and the miles of rocky beach yet to come and decided I had had enough. I scrambled over a fence into a field, and found a handy level crossing over the railway. I followed a sheep path through a field towards a ruined broch, but then had to head to the road to avoid a large patch of gorse.
After a couple of miles on the road, I spotted a farm access road leading to some large fields. At first sight it seemed as though I would be able to walk through the fields, and I managed another few kilometres feeling very happy not to be on the road. But my hopes were dashed when the field gates ended abruptly in a large (unfordable) river, and I ended up having to trek back up the hill to the road again. By now I was cold and tired, and I decided not to waste more time and energy hunting for another off-road path. This meant spending the next 5.5 miles on the A9, which was as unpleasant as I had expected.
I spent the night at Jutta’s B&B in Portgower, where I had a lovely room overlooking the sea and my host very kindly made me a huge bowl of chicken noodle soup for dinner. In my cold, tired and emotionally fragile state, this was just what I needed.
I spent some time booking the next few days’ accommodation. It is still hard to believe that if I don’t get run over, I will be in John O’Groats in just 3 days, but booking the hotel made it feel more real.
I also spent some time looking for an off-road route for tomorrow’s walk up to Dunbeath. The Scottish coastal walking website (link to follow) suggests it is possible with a lot of effort, so I am going to try to follow their example. Fingers crossed. 3 days and about 60 miles to go.

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One thought on “Day 99 – Golspie to Portgower

  1. We hope u have a good day today…. Sunny here in forest gate! Look forward to seeing you at the weekend:) Kelly and the smalls xxxxx

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