Day 100 Back to Inverness

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Thurso back to Elgin

Train trip

Dave and Cally’s house

It rained during the night but had dried up when I packed away and headed for the bus to Reay where I was going to look around and walk to Melvich. I had a late start as I needed to pop to the post office to collect a parcel. Thurso is apparently the largest town in Caithness and yet it has a rundown air about it. These days Dounreay Nuclear Power Station is the biggest employer and it is set to close so I wonder what will happen to Thurso when it does? 

No sooner had I got on the bus than the rain came. We drove along the roads, past Dounreay Nuclear Power Station, and it was getting greyer and more miserable. The bus arrived at Reay and there was nothing in this small town, nowhere to shelter from the weather, and the beach looked distinctly uninviting. I couldn’t face getting off the bus, so I didn’t, and headed back to Thurso on a round trip. I think the driver thought I was a bit strange. 

I headed into a cafe that served something other than Nescafé instant coffee to reevaluate. I wasn’t having the best time, nor was I getting the most out of my trip and here I was in Thurso, at the end of the UK train line. That was my answer: to catch a train back ‘Sooth’ while I still had the opportunity (next train station is Kyle of Lochalsh near Skye). If I went to Inverness I could probably hire a car for a couple of weeks and take my own advice to do a driving tour of North Scotland. This way I could pick and choose where I go and hopefully walk the best bits and leave out the really difficult bits. 

Buoyed with the ideas for a modified plan I decided to be cheeky and contacted Cally to see if their ‘hotel’ was open for business. Lucky for me Dave and Cally are wonderful, and accommodating, people. 

As it turned out I really enjoyed the train ride. We went through the barren middle of Caithness, stopping at Forsinard, which looked like the logging capital of Scotland. The scenery was moorland, patches of fir trees, a few lochs and lots of deer fences.  

Is that a deer hide?
The train line heads right down the Strath of Kildonan, a huge valley containing the River Helmsdale, and hits the coast at Helmsdale town. This is salmon fishing country.  

The wide, shallow River Helmsdale in the Strath of Kildonan
 We followed the coast for a while and passed through towns and places I now recognise. 

The Mannie on Ben Bhraggie above Golspie
 The sun came out once we were as far South as the Cromarty Firth and I was enjoying the different views of the places I had visited.   

Oil rigs in the Cromarty Firth
 Invergordon station was covered in murals, just like those I had seen in the town last week.  

Mural at Invergordon train station
 We passed all the bridges I have crossed and I was able to admire them from different angles.  

The Dornoch Firth road bridge
The Cromarty Firth road bridge
The Moray Firth road bridge and the River Ness
 I arrived at Elgin and popped into the supermarket to get a couple of bottles of wine so that at least I didn’t arrive empty handed for a second ‘vacation’ with Dave and Cally. It was nice to catch up. I can now take a couple of days to formulate my new plan. 

12 thoughts on “Day 100 Back to Inverness

  1. Gareth bryant July 15, 2015 / 9:25 pm

    100 days! Well done Lucy. I think you’ve definitely gone for the best option so that you can enjoy the most of the trip. Please tell me you have hired a convertible….!


  2. Donna Munday July 16, 2015 / 12:52 am

    Liking your thinking Luc, you’ll have a great time if you can bounce around the stunning scenery in a car, and walk the interesting bits. Not sure if you will get this far, but do revisit that comment I made re Achiltibuie in the Summer Isles….. from memory we flew to Inverness, hired a car and headed north west past Ullapool. The last bit of the drive is similar to the scene in Skyfall where James Bond is driving M through Scotland to lure the baddie. Stunning views.
    Also, we visited Rhum and Eigg islands on another trip, and took a boat out to go whale watching from somewhere near there, which was great fun. Whatever you do, avoid Malaig. We nicknamed it Malaise. I remember a very bad vegetarian lasagne being served there with lots of tinned carrots. Then again, we were a bunch of vegetarian lefty students drinking our way around Scotland and asking in vain for dishes with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, so we probably deserved it.
    Happy planning.
    Donna xx


    • Lucy July 16, 2015 / 10:04 pm

      You make me laugh! I probably will avoid the veggie lasagne but I am planning on visiting Malaise! Everyone says the West coast is amazing, I just hope it’s as good in rubbish weather!!!


  3. Chris Frazer July 16, 2015 / 4:58 am

    Always good to have a fluid, dynamic plan with the necessary inherent flexibility which reflects the changing situation!!………. I would not worry about what the bus driver thought he is probably used to moving all sorts of strange people around, you will have a little colour to his day that is all…..remember hire cars are the fastest cars in the world and they feel no pain…..good luck with the planning.


    • Lucy July 16, 2015 / 10:05 pm

      Flexibility is the key to Air Power Chris…obviously you remember that from Shriv!


  4. Chris Frazer July 16, 2015 / 5:00 am

    Added….predicted text…yuk added should be in my last message……added a little colour…..


  5. jomunday99 July 16, 2015 / 6:03 am

    Yay – get the cat stocked up with nice food and treats! And keep blogging!


    • Lucy July 16, 2015 / 10:07 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion to get a car. First stop tomorrow is the supermarket.


  6. jomunday99 July 16, 2015 / 6:05 am

    More predictive text mishaps! Or just bad typing. CAR obvs.


  7. Val K July 16, 2015 / 3:40 pm

    I agree getting a car or perhaps a cat! Is a grand idea. As long as you keep blogging the form
    of transport is immaterial. Val xxxxx


    • Lucy July 16, 2015 / 10:02 pm

      Thanks for all of the supportive comments re the change in plan. Don’t worry, I’ll keep on blogging because this is my record of my trip


  8. Donna Munday July 16, 2015 / 11:39 pm

    Luc, look at it this way. If it’s raining in Scotland, the midges won’t get you. And the scenery is stunning in any weather. Just seen the weather forecast for NW Scotland though….. mmmmm….. try to stay dry! Dxx


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