Evanton to Tain
I can safely now say that the Novar Arms Hotel isn’t all it makes itself out to be. After another uncomfortable night in my room – awful bed, wafer thin pillows and curtains that may as well not been there – I woke up feeling worse than I did before taking a day off! What a waste of time.
I got down to breakfast early to find a dozen or so cyclists already there. I was worried that it would take ages to get my breakfast and get off but it didn’t take too long. I made sure that after finishing my breakfast I settled up the bill before getting stuck behind and severely delayed by the cyclists checking out. I grabbed my stuff and headed out the door slightly earlier than usual.
As well as feeling exhausted before I started, nothing seemed to be working this morning. My feet and ankles didn’t want to work, the pack felt heavier and more awkward than ever and my shoulders were already aching. This was going to be a hard day and the sooner it was over the better.
I made my out of Evanton following the B817 the three or so miles out to Alness. Fortunately the vast majority of this was on paths so no problems with traffic, not that it was the busiest of roads but those cars that did come down the road weren’t exactly going slowly.
It took about an hour to get to Alness and as I made my way in I thought to myself that it looked like a nice place. That was until I got half way up the high street to find an alley cordoned off by the police with officers standing around making sure nobody went up there. I didn’t bother finding out what had happened but it took a little of the shine off the place.
From Alness the lanes for smaller and the number of houses I passed became fewer. It seemed like quite some time since I last walked down a road like this, having spent the last few weeks yomping over hills, through forests and along loch shores. It was nice. Not the most interesting of strolls but it was nice nonetheless.
There’s not really a great deal else to say about the stroll along the lanes other than I managed to cover the distance in pretty good time, taking my first break after covering the first nine miles in under three hours. Yes, my feet were beginning to hurt – nothing new there – so the break was nice. After five minutes though the flies from the woods I was sitting next to became too much so I picked myself up and carried on up the road. I thought I’d left those pesky flies behind at the lochs? Clearly not!
The rest of the walk was pretty much more of the same, only livened by the Tornado jet shooting up and down the Moray Firth. I have no idea what they thought they were doing but they just kept on going up and down, then back again and so on and so on. They were still doing it when I’d reached my B & B!
I really wanted to make it to Tain without stopping again but a couple of miles out my feet were just too painful. I was also getting a little hungry by then so I thought a break would be a good idea.
Finding a small wall to park my backside on, I dropped my pack, took my boots of and tried my best to relax for a bit. I ate my lunch, rubbed my feet a bit to try and bring them back to life and finally gritted my teeth to put my boots back on and started to limp up the road, swearing at my damned feet for being so bloody weak!
I made it in to Tain in pretty good time, reaching my B & B – Ross Villa – in under six hours, even with the pain in my feet, but by the time I got there I was pretty much shattered. Unfortunately though I’d clearly gone too quickly as my room wasn’t ready yet. I sat in the front room for a bit until I could go to my room and immediately collapsed on my bed.
I think I lied there for a good twenty minutes before making a move to the bathroom to wash the day off me in the rather wonderful power shower. It was lovely!
I fired up my netbook to see if wifi was available to find that I could log on to the BT Openzone network. This was good news as I had five blog updates to put up on the site, which I sorted out.
I had a quick Skype call with Russ and Rachel – great to see you guys – and spoke to Matt on the phone about the logistics of the weekend and him getting up to John O’Groats.
It was soon time to speak to the girls and we had a lovely Skype call. Alice showed me all her artwork she’s been doing at school and Elisa was as funny as ever, sitting there in just her knickers. I told them that I only had five more days walking and that I’d be seeing them soon, which I think they were happy about?
The next task of the evening was to hobble my way in to the town centre to get something to eat. I almost considered not bothering but I knew that that would be a mistake with a very long day ahead of me tomorrow.
It took me a little bit longer than the average person to get there but I finally made it to the Royal Hotel – recommended by the owners of the B & B – and enjoyed a very nice rack of lamb.
Feeling better for having a full belly I limped back to the B & B to try and get an early night before tomorrow’s walk. I really hoped I’d get a better night’s sleep and feel all the better for it in the morning as tomorrow will be the longest of my remaining five days and I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a little bit worried about it.
Almost forgot to say that I was contacted by Helen and Koert – from the Pennine Way – and also Sven. It was lovely to hear from them and I was pleased to hear that Sven made it to the end of the West Highland Way, even though he was suffering with knee and ankle problems. Well done mate, great effort!