Friday 3 July 2015
Inverness to Fortrose
Fortrose Caravan Park
I was up early as it was so hot and the man in the bunk next to mine (mixed rooms these days!) snored like a train. I took some time to catch up on the blog and then headed out for a quick breakfast in town on the way to the Kessock Bridge. Unfortunately the cycle route by the River Ness was shut owing to work being carried out so I was relegated to the footpath by the side of the main roads through an industrial park.
The Kessock Bridge crosses the narrow section of water that splits the Beauly Firth from the Moray Firth. It was opened in 1982 by the Queen Mother and looks like a modern bridge. The views up the river into the mountains were great and some of the mountains still had snow on them.
Once over the bridge I was in the Black Isle and the countryside. Initially there was a road and then a path (sort of) along the side of the Moray Firth to Kilmuir.
Just after this village the path disappeared and I found myself negotiating a steep hillside covered in gorse and ferns. It was incredibly frustrating as the map said there should be a path and the tracks I found kept leading to nowhere. I was going up and down the same hillside constantly being trapped. At one point I found 2 enormous houses with a road/track that linked them, but no matter where I looked I could not find the road out. Ridiculous. Perhaps the owners arrive by helicopter? Eventually I made it out to a minor road and then on tracks down to a large inlet called Munlochy Bay. Again the tracks were fading on me as it looks like no one drives down them so they become blocked with gorse and nettles. I made it into a field that was obviously used by cows and was also quite boggy. Wading through a boggy cowpat is quite slow going and I was glad I didn’t see any cows.
I finally made it to the main road, which was almost worse as it was rather busy and narrow and there wasn’t a pavement so the cars had to move out to avoid me.
By the time I got to Munlochy it was 2.15 pm and I needed a break as the weather was very hot and sunny (I was glad of that hat!).
I stopped at the first pub I came to and sat inside to cool down. The barman kept topping up my soft drink as I looked like I needed it. I was conscious time was pushing on and I still had a way to go. As I walked up the main street a bus arrived labelled Fortrose and stopped right by me. I thought this was fate so I got in it and arrived at Fortrose about 10 minutes later.
Fortrose is a very small town at the head of the peninsula that leads to Chanonry Point, dolphin-watching territory. Despite its small size it has a ruined cathedral that was built in the 1200s and sacked in the Reformation. It was quite an important place as it housed the Bishop of the Diocese of Ross, which covered a lot of North Scotland, and a ‘town of clergymen’ built around it.
I found my campsite, pitched my tent and relaxed in the sunshine for a bit while my washing dried. No Dolphins this afternoon as the wind has increased and the Firth has become choppier the last couple of afternoons.
The campsite owner booked me into the local restaurant, Eilean Dubh, for dinner as it’s won some awards and is highly recommended. It was definitely worth going; locally sourced food and the best sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever eaten.