(total 1,097 miles)
The bad weather and lack of coastal paths made this more of a bus tour than a walk this week. I seem to have followed the A9 all week.
A constant theme has been locals telling me this is the worst summer weather in living memory; there’s never been this much rain before, the harvest is ruined, farmers are being forced to sell their cattle as they’ve got no feed for the winter and Orkney has had 95% of its annual rainfall after 6 months. All quite depressing to hear day after day when you’re getting soaked.
The terrain has changed lots over the week as I’ve moved from the sea shores of Easter Ross, through Sutherland with its big hills and straths cut into them, and finally into Caithness, the land of the flows. There seems to be a natural divide (the Kildonan Strath) between Sutherland and Caithness as suddenly the land flattens out and becomes wet and boggy.
I have indulged in sightseeing and history this week and it’s been fascinating to learn about the Picts, the Highland Clearances and then a bit about Orkney’s Neolithic history. Many of the towns here have museums or heritage centres; I only went in a couple. The locals seem very proud of their history.
Great to have some company again this week, and to get a new tent and rucksack. Both seem pretty good so far and my pack feels much more manageable, although it might be the lack of walking mileage! I don’t see myself walking consistently around here as it’s too wet and the ground too boggy to do much off-piste so I think I’ll be sticking to the roads, which means more buses for me. Being in the North Highlands makes me think that either a campervan or a road cycling trip would be the best way to see the place and get around…maybe next time!
Hopefully the weather will improve sometime soon as it would make the views around even more stunning (and would take a better photograph).