We are now so far north that when people talk of those in the south, they do not mean London, or even England – they mean Edinburgh or Glasgow! This is a wonderful place. The air is clear and the scenery is wonderful. We have been walking through the villages of the Moray Firth, the Cromarty Firth (no longer just a shipping forecast to me) and the Dornoch Firth. This is the land of Easter Ross where the Picts lived in Roman times. In fact it was the Romans who named them Picts and it is thought that it was because of their body paint or tattoos. The Black Isle between the Moray Firth and Cromarty Firth was delightful.
We had a stunning walk from Avoch, through Fortrose and its disused Cathedral, to Chanonry point (where we saw the dolphins) and onto Rosemarkie and its very, very attractive fairy Glen.
Walking along the Eathie Road we could see the Mory Firth on one side (raining to the south but not where we were) and the cromarty Firth to the north (with its oil rigs and oil industry).
Further north we greatly enjoyed finding out about Pictish Christianity. St Columba seemes to have been the star, but there were other Celtic saints who founded monasteries and spread the Gospel. There are immense standing stones at Nigg (in the church), Shandwick (on a hill overlooking the sea) and a replica stone at Hilton. We also spent an informative afternoon at Tarbat, overlooking the Dornoch Firth, where there is a disused church with a Pictish crypt. It is full of the Pictish history and carvings unearthed by a team from York University!! – strange how these things happen.
We now have less than 100 miles to go and by the time you read this, probably less than a week to walk. It will feel most strange stopping this lifestyle, which has been focused on walking nearer to John o’Groats every day. As we are now on the main lejog route heading north we are beginning to encounter more people either cycling or walking end to end.
We have continued to meet some very friendly and generous people this week- some of whom might be logging on to the website – so ‘Hi!’ to several people we have now met more than once! To John and Anne from the Wirral, Lara and Igor from USA, Bill and Cathy (from Manchester) walking lejog (thank you for the tips about Tain to Dornoch – lovely route) and a first ‘Hello!’ on line to Frank in N. Kessock TIC, Moira and Jim in Avoch, David the ferryman on the Nigg-Cromarty boat, Cosy, Charlie, Sophie and Emma (passengers on the ferry – and also cyclists round Balintore, Drew and Kathy from Alness, Barbara and Margaret met in Fortrose, David the runner from Derby, Pat who gave us a cup of tea in her lovely garden hideaway, the Balintore ladies watching the shoreline, Diana and Jessica near Balintore chemists, Harry and Joy and their friends on holiday in Balintore, Michelle who most encouragingly stopped her car to talk to us, David in Blaintore who took our mileage photo (Thanks David), Andrew in Tain, and Maureen and Sandra in Dornoch Cathedral (who told us the directions to get an ice-cream!) , to Andy on holiday from Maryport in Cumbria, to Steve taking photos of Loch Fleet and to Niamh, Hannah and their Mum and Gran in Lidl in Tain.
Week 20 Statistics
Scrabble: Nancy 2 John 0
Kissing Gates 20
En route donations £35.80
Mileage 75 miles
Iron Brew 500 ml (made in Scotland from Girrders!)
Scotch Pie 1