Fields Of Gold

LETJOG – Day 52: Thursday 8 July – MUIR OF ORD to ALNESS (18 miles)

A waving field of barley, near Alness

The climate and the light soils of this area provide great country for growing barley, essential of course for making whisky as well as for beer, and these quivering fields have graced my walk today, particularly this afternoon along the northern slopes of the Cromarty Firth. Followers of this blog will by now have picked up on my occasional tendency towards optimism, so, for me, a golden harvest in a month or so is not difficult to envisage!

What is so striking today though is change! Agriculture instead of moors, hardwoods rather than conifers, grasses in place of moss, and suddenly lots of seagulls. And no midges!! It is certainly gentle walking country here, with fewer inclines than I have been used to for many days, if not weeks. There are more people around than in the Highlands, and more traffic, but the towns are most pleasant, and with some beautiful red sandstone buildings.

Dingwall town centre, where I stopped this morning for a coffee – I am told that the local sandstones vary slightly in colour across the region, so that, for example, the stone that I saw yesterday in Beauly differs from that in Dingwall and again from that in Alness.
Modern buildings too keep with the hues of the local stone, creating a unique feel to the built environment of the area

Today’s walk took me out on the A862 main road, walking with due vigilance, from Muir of Ord to Conon Bridge and Maryburgh, and thence on a cycle track to Dingwall, a necessary six miles of little note. Then, after walking through the town centre, my route took me out on a minor road rising gently before contouring for several miles above the Cromarty Firth and with the slopes of Cnoc Mhabairn to the north. From here the way enjoyed super views across the Firth to the Black Isle and its connecting bridge. After stopping for a wayside lunch, I continued through Evanton on a marked cycle track that doubles here, although not waymarked, as my first part of the John O’Groats Trail, taking a pleasant course through deciduous forest until close to Alness.

Crossing the River Conon
Looking back down to Dingwall, and across the head of the Cromarty Firth
More barley, and the view across to the Black Isle and the Cromarty Bridge
An inventive planter in Evanton
A view northwards from the John O’Groats Trail through the lush forest near Evanton up to the slopes of Cnoc Fyrish
And the latest of my abortive distillery visits, Teaninich in Alness: from its website the nearby Dalmore distillery is also ‘temporarily closed’!
I was amused, momentarily, by this sign in Dingwall to ‘The North’, having felt about a month ago that I had reached the North as I headed out of Birmingham. A lesson perhaps in perspective!

My thanks this evening to hosts Ali and David at the Tullochard guest house in Alness, wonderful hosts who invited me to join for a dram before going out for my dinner. Thank you!

2 thoughts on “Fields Of Gold

  1. Hi Nick,

    According to Google Maps you’re about 100 miles from JoG so I guess you’ve got about another 5 days to walk. Enjoy the rest of your epic walk. I’m just about to go out on another long training ride as only 8 weeks before my departure from Land’s End! I just hope I can survive the first 2 days up to Bristol which are extremely hilly….. After that, I hope I can settle into a groove for the remaining 9 days.

    Roger

    From: Nick’s Charity Walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats Date: Thursday, 8 July 2021 at 21:42 To: rgrmrgn@gmail.com Subject: [New post] Fields Of Gold nickletjog posted: ” LETJOG – Day 52: Thursday 8 July – MUIR OF ORD to ALNESS (18 miles) A waving field of barley, near Alness The climate and the light soils of this area provide great country for growing barley, essential of course for making whisky as well as for be”

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