Dunbeath to Wick
After a really good, quick day’s walking yesterday I awoke feeling pretty good. Yes, my feet were a little bit tender when I first put them on the floor but by the time I’d pottered around sorting my stuff out they were actually feeling pretty good.
Not having even gone downstairs last night after going to my room I didn’t know what time breakfast was. All I could hope was that as I sorted myself out and go downstairs at my usual 8am it would be about the right time. As it goes, my breakfast was ready before 8am which meant I was running early by the time I’d eaten it and grabbed the last bits of my gear.
Toremore Farm B & B was perfectly adequate for a night’s stay, and I was very grateful to Mrs. McDonald for giving me a bed for the night as she’d had a fall recently and was struggling with a very swollen wrist. Everything looked very difficult, especially making my breakfast for me.
The weather was looking as though it might rain so I put my coat on and headed up the road, determined to have another good day’s walking and to make good time to Wick. After ten minutes though I had to take my coat off as it was beginning to warm up and it didn’t look like it would rain any more…typical!
Being the sad person that I am I checked Facebook as I walked up the road and noticed that my friend Steve (Hag) didn’t sound very happy. He’s been there a lot of times for me over the recent months so I gave him a ring to see what was up. Thankfully it wasn’t anything too bad – kids, bad mood etc. – but it was lovely to chat and get a few laughs out of him. It helped me to talk and I hope it helped him too.
Let’s get this straight now: the walk up the A9 has been pretty boring. There’s not a lot to look at other than the tarmac and the odd farm. This morning was no different and by the time I reached the A99 in Latheron I’d seen nothing worthy of mention at all.
Reaching Latheron though was definitely a milestone. This was where I picked up the final road that would take me to John O’Groats. Granted, not today but it would be the final line of tarmac I would be following to my ultimate goal. That was a nice thought and certainly put a very big smile on my face.
From that point though I’m struggling to find anything worthy of mention. The only thing that springs to mind was passing a sign post to the “Hill of Many Stones”. If I’d thought my feet could take the walk to the hill and back again I would have done it as I was curious to find out what number of stones constitutes “many stones”. Unfortunately though I wanted to keep my feet for the final stage of the walk so I guess I’ll never know the answer to that question.
I was making good time and other than a short break to speak to Matt to see how his journey was going, I’d not stopped yet. I was beginning to feel the pace though and looking at the map I spotted the holy “PH” sign at Thrumster, four or so miles out from Wick. I made a quick decision and decided that I could afford a rest stop and light pub lunch seeing as I had hours before Matt would be in Wick.
At the Old Smiddy Inn I had a pint of orange juice and lemonade – I know, no beer – and a chicken and salad sandwich, which was very nice indeed. I was there for about half an hour before I started to get worried about my feet being up to the final miles.
I’d had a chat with the lady behind the bar about the walk while eating my lunch and as I went to settle up she told me that it was on the house because of me doing the walk for charity. A most unexpected and generous gesture.
As I left the pub it started to rain so, quite hard, so I stopped, put my coat on and headed up the road for the final four miles of the day. There was definitely a new spring in my step which I’ll put down to the generous gesture at the pub putting me in an even better mood than I was already in.
I stormed through the last four miles, covering them in just over an hour. Not even the rain could dampen my mood today. Granted, I think the pace was helped a great deal by the choice of music: The Blackening by Machinehead. You can’t help but walk fast to that, and I was pleased my feet were doing so well again. The last three days have been really good as far as my feet go so I hope they hold out for the final day tomorrow.
Mackays hotel in Wick was very nice. Matt and I had a great big room and…there was a bath in the bathroom! Heaven again and my prayers answered. Hopefully the nice soak after today’s walk will pay dividends for tomorrow’s final miles, just less than seventeen.
After a Skype call with the girls Matt and I went down to the bar for a couple of pints and then in to No. 1 Bistro for dinner. This was the hotel’s restaurant and the only address on Ebenezer Place, but at 6ft 9 inches there is no room for another building on the street. Ebenezer Place has been officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the Shortest Street in the World, so eating there was an unexpected bonus to the walk.
One more day to go. I hope my feet play the game as well as they have these last few days and that I finish this great adventure with a great big smile on my face. John O’Groats…let’s ‘ave ya!!