Sunday 5 July 2015
Cromarty to Evanton
Black Rock Caravan Park Bunkhouse
As the Nigg Ferry wasn’t running I was going to have to walk inland to the A9 road crossing of the Cromarty Firth in order to leave the Black Isle and head North into Easter Ross. After a big breakfast I set off alongside Cromarty Bay. This was to be a day of road walking.
It was a grey but warm day; not great visibility for views. The deep water of the Cromarty Firth was used by the Royal Navy for over 300 years, including as a harbour for the Atlantic Fleet during WW2. When the Navy left in the 1950s it left behind the oil fuel depot and the oil industry moved in. The Nigg Fabrication Yard and oil terminal were right in the eyeline from Cromarty, and then there were the 8 oil rigs that were in the Firth at the moment. Invergordon is the hub for rig repairs so rigs are often laid up in the Cromarty Firth (they might also be surplus rigs as production is cut back) and they really dominate the surroundings.
I walked around the Udale RSPB Reserve to Newhall Point, right opposite Invergordon at another ‘neck’ in the Firth. Here I had a break to tend to my first blister since Norfolk and to look at the oil rigs. Invergordon is also a cruise liner port; a big one left last night and there was only a small one docked today.
I walked to the rundown Balblair pier hoping to find a path that was indicated on the map. Some ship workers soon put me straight that there wasn’t a path and I was forced back up the hill onto the road for a 7 mile trek to the bridge. After about 3 miles with cars dodging me I finally plucked up the courage to thumb a lift and I got lucky as the first car stopped. A very nice lady gave me a lift to the A9, saving me 4 boring miles.
The next bit was to cross the A9 bridge, which was not the most pleasant experience. There was only a small pavement alongside a very busy main road. I was fortunate only 1 lorry went past.
I had to continue for another 2 miles along the verge of the A9, right beside the North side of the Cromarty Firth, until I got to the Foulis Point Heritage Centre. I stopped here for a break and just sat on a sofa in the busy restaurant and read a newspaper. No one bothered me even though I didn’t buy anything.