Walk Day 105 – Helmsdale to Berriedale

Saturday 6th October 2018

9.7 miles today. 1138.54 miles total.

Today was the Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run and several vintage/veteran cars passed me before someone stopped to take photographs and I was able to find out more.

They started from Knebworth yesterday, spent the night in John O’Groats and will be breakfasting in Land’s End tomorrow. I was reminded of my Triumph Dolomite Sprint that I so enjoyed driving in the early 1980s.

It was A9 road walking for me today, with a couple of diversions.

The first was a nugatory exploration of a field boundary while looking for a link path to the JOG Trail.

I found another kind of mushroom but not much else.

Then…

The second was a diversion to Badbea to see the remains of a Highland Clearances settlement. I wasn’t surprised to read that at least one family emigrated to the New World.

While there I rerouted down the hill to join the JOG Trail, only to discover I would have to fight my way through high bracken to make the path for myself.

The accompanying sign on the fence warning that the cliff edge was dangerous made up my mind to climb back up the hill and return to the road.

This is meant to be enjoyable and the next three miles looked as if they would be an endurance test, and possibly dangerous.

In reality on a day which was mainly sunny and cool, and on the A9 where the traffic arrives in bunches with clear gaps, it was a pleasant walk. The rain was intermittent and light. At times I could see my breath forming steam, but mostly the sun shone.

When I reached Berriedale I stopped at the River Bothy tea room and found myself chatting to a local resident who has walked this JOG section and some others. He recommended the road instead, for safety and access reasons.

He knew about the background to the work being done to create the trail, and said that part of the difficulty has been that not all stakeholders are committed to the idea, and that the ‘better’ route for the path clashes with set-aside land. Apparently there are 160 croft owners on the Dunbeath estate alone, and it’s not just the major land owners whose co-operation is needed (and is not always granted) to make the path passable.

The wind was much lower than in recent days and the clouds were reflected in the still surface of the sea.

It was a lovely day and I spent a lot of time singing.

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