Day 43 Sat 11-06-2005
Inverness to Alness
I'm back on McLoy's route, now, having missed out the West Highland Way - which I'm determined to walk at a later date. The next few final days will take me up the east coast, skirting a few firths, and joining the A9 again. According to McLoy, Inverness to Alness is 25 miles, and seemed a reasonable target for the day. Downstairs in the hostel's kitchen, I say goodbye to John, wishing Jean and him all the best, and make my way in Inverness town centre to post a few maps home.
I wandered around the town, hoping to find a greasy spoon open for a Scottish fry up, but have to settle for breakfast in O'Brians. After posting my maps, I got some blister plasters from Boots, and was leaving the town by 9:45 - very late by my standards and leaving a lot to do to reach Alness.
The road out of Inverness crosses the Moray and Beauly Firths via the Kessock Bridge. I then walked along the Beauly Firth for several miles. Turning north, I crossed flat farmland toward Conon Bridge. A deer jumped out of my way, then almost immediately, I disturbed a fox chasing a flock of sheep around their field. I hope I scared it off for good, the sheep were very bothered and ran full speed from me - ungrateful creatures. At Conon Bridge, a pub provided anaesthetic for my feet and a delicious salmon, prawn and cream cheese baguette. It's so hard out here roughing it...
Walking on, I reached Cromarty Firth, a huge body of water full of oil rigs waiting to be towed out to sea. I think the Queen Mary 2 was due to visit in a week or so. I spent the afternoon looking at the firth and oil rigs, and arrived at Alness. I passed a hotel, and, with painful feet, booked in.
I lay on the bed reflecting on the last two days. My feet hurt, much more than walking in wild places where there was a variety of terrain. I was close to the end of my journey, and felt an overwhelming desire to get there. Sometimes the walking had dragged on a bit, usually when the scenery was not so rugged, but I felt much stronger now, and was clocking up the miles every day. My back pack didn't weigh me down so much, and I felt ready for anything.
I wandered downstairs, and sat in the bar at the back of the hotel. As I paid for my drink, I dropped my change on the floor. Crawling around to pick it up, a voice with a strong Scotch accent asked,
"Do ye need an accountant there, pal??"
I was pleased to see the owner of this accent fall a**e over t** a little later in the evening, but thought it wise to refrain from comment.
The jukebox struck up the Proclaimers cover of Roger Miller's classic, "King of the Road." I knew that this would be planted in my head as I walked on every day from now on, and I was not wrong. The Great Escape was now demoted to number two, and,
Trailer for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.
would be the undisputed number one earworm.
I returned to my room, and watched tv and fell asleep. About twelve thirty, I was woken by footsteps running around the corridors outside my room. Someone would bang very hard on a door, RAT TAT TAT!!, and run off. Guests playing the fool, I thought. Bl**dy kids! I crept out of bed, and bravely locked the door. The footsteps returned, and someone banged very loudly on my door, and ran off! I put my head under the covers, waited for the noise to subside, and fell asleep...
Jeremy and Lisa Kivell
Morven House Hotel
70 Novar Road