Ages: Colin was 66 years and 131 days. Rosemary was 63 years and 274 days.
Weather: Persistent drizzle. Grey. Cooler.
Location: Munlochy to Rosemarkie.
Distance: 10½ miles.
Total distance: 1710½ miles.
Terrain: Stubble field. Overgrown bank. Rough path along the edge of a loch. Woodland tracks. Main road with no footpath (Horrible!) Grass path, mown in places. Firm sandy/stony beach.
Tide: Coming in, then going out.
Rivers: No.143, Avoch Burn at Avoch.
Kissing gates: No.161 just outside Munlochy. (We didn’t count the one at Avoch Castle because we didn’t go through it.)
Pubs: The ‘Plough Inn’ at Rosemarkie where we enjoyed ‘Stag’ and ‘Trade winds’, both from Cairngorms Brewery.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in a holiday flat in the roof of a house in the countryside about three miles from Dingwall. This morning we got up early and drove to Rosemarkie where we parked in the ‘Fairy Glen’ car park. We caught a bus from the car park to Munlochy where we ended yesterday’s Walk.
At the end, we went up to the pub from the beach. After refreshing ourselves we continued up the road to the ‘Fairy Glen’ car park We had our tea and scrumptious caramel squares, and then returned to our funny little ‘cottage’ near Dingwall.
We alighted from the bus in pouring rain and walked up the street towards the main road. At the junction we came across a flower bed surrounded by a lovely stone wall with a “Welcome to Munlochy” sign in the middle of it. We had reached the 1700mile point of our trek, and wished to mark it by having a photo taken of us both. But there was nobody about that we could ask to take it, and we couldn’t use the delayed shutter because the rain was still teeming down. So I took a picture of Colin, shielding the camera with my cape. Then he took a picture of me, shielding the camera with his umbrella. Later I combined the two photos on the computer, and I don’t think I made too bad a job of it.
We thought we would then have two miles of main-road walking followed by a loop back on ourselves along lanes, and we weren’t looking forward to it — especially in the rain. But a couple of hundred yards along the main road we had a lovely surprise. We came across a kissing gate leading into the adjacent field, and a new signpost pointing across the fields towards Munlochy Bay telling us we could get to Avoch that way! This meant we would be well away from any road until we got to Avoch Bay, and we would be walking much nearer the coast too. This new footpath wasn’t marked on any of the maps we had, neither the ‘Explorer’ OS map, the map I had downloaded off the internet, nor the leaflets I had picked up at a local Tourist Information Centre a couple of days ago. And we both hate walking along main roads, so we believed the sign and went through the gate.
First we crossed a couple of corn fields on stubble, right down to the bay itself. The rain eased off, only to return in waves throughout the day. We both kept our overtrousers on because the undergrowth we were brushing against was quite wet.
We turned left at the bottom, and there we found the going to be a bit swampy. But it was nothing drastic, and there were plank bridges over the ditches so it was all passable.
We came to a stile which I found difficult to get over, and it took us on to an overgrown bank where the wet grass looked as if it was almost as tall as me! We had lovely views across the bay, which was full of reeds at this end. The mist made it seem quite ethereal.
It started raining again, so we decided not to walk the arms of Avoch Harbour on the grounds that they are dead ends and we were wet and tired. We came to the main road where we had no choice but to walk for two miles along the edge of this pavementless A road. To our right was a wall with a rocky beach below, and on the left hand side of the road rose vertical cliffs. The road was quite narrow because it had been squeezed in at the bottom of the cliffs, and I must say that most of the traffic did slow down or pull over as it passed us — but some vehicles did not and that was frightening. Talk about ‘Death-Alley’! I tried holding my white map out into the traffic as a kind of flag to make sure the drivers actually saw us in the gloom and rain, but all in all it was a HORRID walk! One ‘safe’ bit was about fifty yards length where huge rocks had tumbled down the cliff into the road, so the carriageway had been looped out on to the beach to avoid them. We were able to walk along this bit of ‘old road’ — we felt safer under the rocks than facing the traffic!
It was with relief that we reached Fortrose where we were able to turn off on to a minor road. Again we didn’t bother to walk the harbour walls because we felt very tired by then. Besides, it was STILL RAINING! The road led up a little hill, then passed a picnic site above the beach. From there we walked along a greensward behind the houses which was mown grass. There were also lots of delicious blackberries about, so we helped ourselves! It had stopped raining by then, and seemed to brighten up a trifle. We passed a campsite and then walked along the top of the beach to Chanonry Point.
We sat down and ate our chocolate. We also both removed our overtrousers because they are hot to walk in when you don’t need them. We went over to a stone with a plaque on it to see what it was about. It was commemorating the legend of Coinneach Odhar, better known as the Brahan Seer. “Many of his prophecies were fulfilled, and the tradition holds that his untimely death by burning in tar followed his final prophecy of the doom of the house of Seaforth.” This sounded fascinating, so I looked him up on the internet later. Apparently there is some doubt as to whether he existed at all. He is reputed to have lived in the 17th century, and he is thought to have been born in Uig on lands owned by the Seaforth family. He came to Brahan Castle, which is near Dingwall, to work as a labourer. The castle belonged to the Earls of Seaforth, chiefs of the Clan Mackenzie.
And so the Brahan Seer met his grisly end, hence the memorial on Chanonry Point. The plaque was cast by the boys of Fortrose Academy in 1969.
That ended Walk no.195, we shall pick up Walk no.196 next time on the beach in Rosemarkie. It was five to five, so the Walk had taken seven hours. We walked up to the pub, and sat outside enjoying our beer because it was too crowded inside. (We were sheltered from the cool breeze by the buildings.) We got talking to a group of young people who were very interested in our Trek. They told us that they, too, were going along the beach towards Eathie tomorrow because they were going to explore some caves. We had a very interesting conversation, then we walked up the road to where our car was parked in ‘Fairy Glen’. There we had our tea and scrumptious caramel squares, and returned to our funny little ‘cottage’ near Dingwall.