This last week has included rather more road walking than we would have liked. In fact the nearer we got to Wick the less footpaths there seemed to be and the road and cars zooming by have been our constant companions. However there have been some interesting diversions. We managed to time our arrival in Helmsdale to coincide with the Highland Games there. It was the first time we have seen this spectacle and more can be read about in John’s part of the website under The Yorkshire Highlander’s Tale.
As we left the games we passed a very poignant sculpture to the ‘Emigrants’. These were the people who had been thrown off their lands in the sheltered glens to make room for sheep (which were more profitable than rent). The figure of the Duke of Sutherland dominates the hillside above Brora, his fairytale castle at Dunrobin is now a tourist attraction, but he was one of the culprits who caused such hardship to the Emigrants.
The now deserted village of Badbea is just a quarter of a mile away from the A9. This is right on the edge of the cliffs onstoney ground and was one of the difficult places that the Emigrants fled to. Others made it to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand and took some of their Scottish culture with them.
We saw, at the Laidhay Croft Museum, the layout of a croft as it would have been and it included shoes found at the deserted village of Badbea.
Some of the beaches we have been able to walk along have been stunning and mostly deserted except for the seals who found in us a curiosity and so swam along with us parallel to the beach!
We have had some great encouragement and help from some of the folk up here and so ‘Hello’ to the dog walkers at Golspie, the Scottish Boot Campers north of Golspie – the running lasses and Paddy and ‘T’ the instructors; Sue met on Brora beach; Colin and Rose at the Helmsdale Highland Games and their children Abram, Jessie and Luis; Hugh, Mary, Marion, Willy and Maureen and the rest of the very friendly and welcoming congregation at the Associated Presbyterian church in Balintore; the cyclists doing LEJOG in 18 days: Gemma, Robyn, Bex, Hannah, Ellie and Robyn’s mum, Dave and Sue at Ubster, Mrs Leaske (thanks for your help) at Wick, and Esme, Henrietta, Margaret, Jane and Jim met at Esme’s house in Conisbay (after a lovely meal cooked by Esme).
Week 21 Statistics
Scrabble: Nancy 1 John 2
Kissing Gates 5
En route donations £17.50
Mileage 66 miles
Caithness Smoked cheese 206 g (lovely, thank you Henrietta!)
This is the last weekly posting … before … THE END John o’Groats !!!!!!!!!! Please note there is still time for more Scrabble games and for John to have a final spurt.
Pictures of that event will be coming shortly.