Ages: Colin was 66 years and 129 days. Rosemary was 63 years and 272 days.
Weather: Light clouds but only one short shower of rain. Warm.
Location: Ardersier to Kessock Bridge (Inverness).
Distance: 12½ miles.
Total distance: 1692½ miles.
Terrain: A couple of fields, tracks, a couple of barbed wire fences, and far too much road!
Tide: Coming in, then going out.
Rivers: No.140, the Moray Firth at the impressive Kessock Bridge.
Kissing gates: Nos.158 & 159 as we crossed a railway to get off the busy A road we had been walking along.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in a holiday cottage in the countryside about three miles from Dingwall. We had taken two days to drive up from Malvern, stopping overnight at a B&B near Lockerbie. This morning we got up very early and drove to Kessock Bridge where we parked at the northern end, having found our way round to a space behind the Armco barrier. We then walked over the Bridge, two miles into the centre of Inverness. At the bus station we waited at the correct bus stop at the correct time for the bus to Ardersier. No bus! After half an hour we went into the office to complain. The young man seemed particularly disinterested, tried to ring ‘Stagecoach’ but got cut off because they were "too busy" to talk, and couldn’t make any other suggestions. So we returned to the bus stop for the bus an hour later, and this one turned up. The driver had ‘no idea’ why the earlier bus failed to arrive. We alighted in Ardersier and walked to where we had parked the car at the end of the last Walk.
At the end, we finished at the car. We had our tea and tasty caramel squares, and then returned to our cottage near Dingwall.
We were not very happy about the missing bus. To be let down by ‘Stagecoach’ bus company yet again! All our efforts to get to the right bus stop early in the morning of the first day because we had a long Walk ahead of us and a long two weeks of walking planned out with military precision – we could just see the whole thing going down the pan! A young German chap was waiting for the first bus. He was not impressed at all. He had planned to spend the day at Fort George, and eventually wandered off to catch another bus to somewhere else. When we returned to the bus stop, an Italian couple with luggage were waiting for the second bus. The Ardersier bus goes via Inverness Airport and they were due to catch a plane. They were quite upset when we told them the previous bus hadn’t turned up, and very relieved, as we were, when the second bus came round the corner. What’s the good of encouraging people to leave their cars at home and use public transport when it is so unreliable?
However, an hour later than planned, we started the Walk. I waited by the public conveniences in Ardersier (which were open!) while Colin marched back about a hundred yards to where we had parked the car for the last Walk. This was because I had done that hundred yards last time and Colin hadn’t! When he caught me up, we sat on a bench overlooking the Moray Firth and ate our pasties.
A little further on we passed a house, and I noticed it was called Fag End. Also, it had another sign over the front door saying, “Woodbine”! We stopped to have a look and an overweight woman, with pink hair and wearing so much make-up she looked as if she was about to go on the stage, came out and crossed the road to us. She was very jolly, and cheerfully told us that the house originally belonged to a woman who had about fifteen children. It is a modest-sized house, so she was a bit like the old woman who lived in a shoe! Presumably she also smoked, hence the names on the house. As we left, this larger-than-life lady wished us well and hoped we would enjoy our Walk.
Some moved across the road to give us a little room, but many didn’t. One car even honked at me! No wonder there were flowers hung on the fence at one point, though they had been there a long time and it was mostly cellophane left looking very tattered and ugly.
After a couple of miles, the road diverged from the shore so we weren’t even walking by the water, and the view was hidden behind hedges. We were not enjoying it at all.
On the other side of the road we could see a few aeroplanes at Inverness Airport, and occasionally one took off or landed. Further on we could see a chimney belting out steam. We had seen it from Kessock Bridge this morning when we were walking into Inverness.
It looked as if it was in the middle of a field, and we never did find out what it was. We tried to be positive by admiring some harebells on the wayside, and a cabbage white butterfly. But walking along roads is not really our ‘thing’. It is tedious and dangerous.
We passed Castle Stuart, which is a 17th century ruin restored recently by a couple who have turned it into a spooky sort of country house hotel. Shortly after that we turned on to a track leading to Lonnie Farm. We were chancing our arm a bit because there is no path marked on the map leading along the shore from this farm, but we dreaded the thought of having to walk alongside an A-road which was our only alternative. Besides, we didn’t want to miss out Alturlie Point.
It was so quiet now we were away from traffic, we couldn’t believe the difference after that busy B-road! And we didn’t have to leap into the bank every few minutes. We passed the farmhouse where dogs were barking, then crossed a cut grass field to the top of the beach which was still too stony to walk. So we stayed in the fields.
We hardly noticed that gradually the ‘road’ we were on had narrowed, the white lines which had been down the centre were no longer there, the other walkers had disappeared and so had their dogs.
That ended Walk no.193, we shall pick up Walk no.194 next time on the northern side of Kessock Bridge. It was five o’clock, so the Walk had taken six hours. We had tea from our flask and tasty caramel squares, and were delighted to find a workman’s ‘Portaloo’ tucked out of sight under the bridge! Since it was Sunday, there were no workmen about. But it wasn’t locked so we made use of it! We then returned to our cottage near Dingwall, which isn’t really a cottage at all. It is a flat in the roof of our landlord’s house.