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