Tuesday 14 July 2015
Thurso back to Elgin
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.
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.
We followed the coast for a while and passed through towns and places I now recognise.
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.
Invergordon station was covered in murals, just like those I had seen in the town last week.
We passed all the bridges I have crossed and I was able to admire them from different angles.
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.