Sunday 8th May 2016 – 1195.94 miles.
Very windy last night and some rain showers too.
Fortunately the wind meant that the tent was fairly dry when we broke camp. We met Jerushah who is from Cornwall and is a peat ecologist studying the sphagnum mosses that make up the peat in this area. She was camping at the same site. Good luck with your studies Jerushah.
We walked through Thurso, quiet at 7 in the morning. Past some castle ruins and out along the A836.
It was a misty grey morning but nothing could dampen our spirits as today was the penultimate day of our long walk.
As we walked along we had the feeling we were being watched!
So funny to see the sheep all lined up looking at us.
We reached the outskirts of Castletown and we were stopped by Isobel who gave us a donation – she told us that she had been cured of cancer and was happy to support Macmillan.
The Castletown Hotel was open as we passed by so we decided to go in and see if we could have our usual pot of tea for two. Yes! I was able to post yesterday’s blog and charge my phone too.
We enjoyed our tea and we were given a shortbread biscuit and slice of chocolate cake each. Thanks very much Castletown Hotel.
We were passing Mackay’s Garage when the owner, Dickie Mackay stopped us to ask about our walk.
Dickie drives a breakdown and recovery vehicle for RAC and Green Flag. His garage used to service all the vehicles from the Castle of Mey and the Queen Mum used to be a regular in the village in times past. He gave us a donation on behalf of himself and his wife Joan – thanks both. Thanks also to Dickie for suggesting that we take a different route through Castletown towards the Castle Hill Heritage Centre.
We enjoyed the route which took us past the Flagstone Trail and down to the old harbour. Definately worth a longer visit – it’s on our list for next year.
We arrived at Dunnet and met Chris for a cuppa at the Northern Sands Hotel. Great to take the weight off for a while. We met Malcolm and Colin from Sydney, Australia – we gave them one of our flyers. Nice to meet you both and hope that you enjoy the rest of your holiday and your trip to the battlefields of the Somme in France.
As we left the hotel, we took a stroll around outside the church which was right next door. It looked like an interesting place and we would have liked to take a look around inside but unfortunately the door was locked.
By this time the weather had improved – the mist had given way to sunshine and the grey skies were now blue.
A little further on we came to C H Haygarth and Sons, Gunmakers. We chatted to Ross who was working in his front garden. He told us that we had another 12 miles to go before reaching John o’Groats. We said that we’d be finishing tomorrow so needed somewhere to camp. He was able to suggest a couple of places so thanks Ross.
We stopped for a break at a small unmanned telephone exchange. A few minutes later a car stopped and a voice said “Would you like a cup of tea?”. As you know, we never refuse a cuppa. We piled into Angela’s car and she drove us around to her home just a short distance away. We were treated to some filter coffee and ginger cake served (traditionally in Scotland) with butter. We also had a “wee dram” of 12 year old Highland Park whisky – delicious. It turns out that Angela is a lay preacher and took the Sunday service at Dunnet church. We are hoping to return here next year and Angela has the keys to the church and has promised to show us around. We had a lovely time with Angela and her husband Reg but we had to continue on for a few more miles – thank you both for your warm hospitality and thanks too for your donation to Macmillan. Angela took us back to where we’d left off and we said our goodbyes promising to keep in touch.
The Castle Arms at Mey was our next destination and we arrived around 6pm. Jean welcomed us and, when we asked if she knew anywhere that we could camp for the night, she told us that we could camp in the field around the back. She took us along a winding path to a grassy area with small trees scattered around. Perfect!
We had pasta for supper then I phoned my Mum in Canada to wish her a Happy Mothers’ Day (always the second Sunday in May in Canada). Soon afterwards we walked along to the hotel lounge bar for the evening. Dave spoke to Jean’s partner Bill who told him that the field we were camping in used to be the village football field and it was last played on in 1992 when Mey won! We also got to practice some of our french too. We spoke to Herve from Edinburgh and Phillipe and Sophie from Bourg-en-Bresse (north of Lyons). They are travelling around Scotland on their motorcycles.
It was getting quite late (for us anyway) when Peter and Ian came into the bar – they were guests at the hotel. They are from Ottawa in Canada and are travelling the Scottish Islands on a whisky tour – good to speak to you both and enjoy your journey.
We managed to find our way back to our tent in the dark thanks to our head torches!