Wednesday 8 July 2015
Dornoch to Brora
Brora Caravan Club Site
Not a good start to the morning when I discovered 2 ticks buried in my right leg. They must have been there for over a day but they weren’t full of blood. I had to use my new tick-remover tool. Once that was done it was all about the excitement of new kit. Ali picked me up and we started with coffee and a cake at the patisserie in Dornoch; no sense in rushing things!
From Dornoch Beach Morna and I walked the 2 miles along the coast to Embo, which seemed to be one giant caravan park. It was a chance for me to try out the new rucksack, adjusting the straps etc as we went. After 2 miles I was feeling pleased with my purchase as it seemed comfortable and quite a bit lighter and more manageable than my old pack.
Ali picked us up in Embo and then we drove to Golspie, stopping a couple of times to admire the increasingly hilly scenery. I was happy to be driving around Loch Fleet in the rain; the tide was out and there were a few seals on the shoreline.
The town of Golspie is at the foot of Ben Bhraggie, a classic-looking hill with a 31m high statue of the First Duke of Sutherland, known as the “Mannie”, right on the top.
I thought it was interesting that the information board listed all the criticisms of the First Duke of Sutherland and nothing positive (he was associated with the Highland Clearances). There is a walk inland from Golspie called the Big Burn Walk that is very popular, but I didn’t have time for that as we were heading along the coast.
Just outside the town is the rather stunning Dunrobin Castle, home of the Sutherlands. It has 189 rooms and is still a home, although it is also open to the public. We decided to take a look and were just in time for a falconry display in the magnificent gardens. It was the best display I’ve seen as the falconer was very good. I enjoyed my second sighting of a peregrine this year!
I much preferred touring this castle to Bamburgh; there was so much more to see. TheSutherland history is quite complex as they went from Earls to Dukes and back again. The main thing I noted was that the First Duke of Sutherland started out life as the Marquis of Stafford, so was in fact a Midlander. Some of his seals even said Lilleshall, Shifnal (and I noticed a Lilleshall Street when I got to Helmsdale).
There was a coastal path from the Castle to Brora, 5 miles away. Another trial for my rucksack. Morna and I walked it and Ali drove to find a campsite. We walked past the Carn Liath Broch, which is quite well preserved.
I kept stopping to look back at the views of Dunrobin Castle and the Mannie; this walk would be better heading South, although the visibility wasn’t always great as dark clouds kept rolling in.
As we approached Brora there were lots of seals on the beach and in the sea. The ones in the water seemed to be mums and pups and they kept checking us out. I was rather taken by the stones on the beach here as they looked like lots of pebbles had been cast together to make rocks.
Arriving at the campsite in Brora it began raining again so we sheltered in the campervan and cracked open the wine. Dinner was a lovely pasta with sauce. Eventually it stopped raining long enough for me to put up my new tent and soon it was time for me to try it out. It’s not very dark inside!