DAY 2: Castletown to somewhere-along-the-A9 – 15.5 miles
Last night I stared at a map for about an hour, hoping the perfect route would somehow jump out at me. My brain was totally frazzled, so I decided to sleep on it. Imagine my amazement and gratitude therefore when I woke this morning to find Kat had worked out every potential route heading west and south, listing distance between potenial food stops, places I might be able to pitch a tent and even the condition of some of the roads. What a legend! Honestly, outside of JoG, Thurso and Wick there really is absolutely nothing… no coffee shops, pubs, petrol stations and barely any shops. I was actually getting quite excited about the prospect of wild camping but the thought of carrying two days worth of food in my already too heavy to carry backpack… well, it was all getting too complicated. But finding out the coastal A road I was trying so desperately to avoid, was actually no different to any of the other A roads I would have to tackle…. the decision suddenly became obvious.
So when Kat dropped me back to Castletown, instead of heading west back towards Thurso, I began walking inland and for the first time SOUTH… where by tomorrow evening I will arrive back on the east coast, where I should have been all along. And bonus in that as well as walking today with a very light backpack (the rest being left back at their house) most of today was spent along quiet rural roads; beautiful and peaceful although still quite exposed and therefore a tad chilly. In fact, I have today realised that unless the weather warms up considerably, I am going to struggle to stick to my preferred walking regime of two hour stretches with at least an hour or so break in between to rejuvenate. The problem with stopping somewhere rural when the sun is not shining is that the minute you sit down to eat, you start to get cold. So as much as you try to rest up and enjoy the surroundings the minute you last mouthful is taken… all you want to do is get up and start walking about to warm up. As was the case today after my lunch of homemade steak pie (a repeat from yesterday as I was dropped back by the same shop) and coronation pasta….which I had to eat with a straw, because that was all I had. Worked though 🙂
Anyway after reaching the A9, which tomorrow will take me towards the coast – and walking an hour or so extra for good measure whilst I have a lighter pack – Kat came to collect me for my final night of goulash and warm hospitality at their place. I really really have struck gold by meeting this couple… of course the minute I get my place in Brighton they are more than welcome to come stay anytime! Instead of a photo Kat or Fiona, here is a photo of Iggy their iguana.