In every trip there is always that one day that you don't really know how you will do it. You might have a general plan but you know until you are there and actually get a look at it, you just don't know. Well this is that day. How to get from Inverness where all the trails and routes end to Nairn where they begin again. Looking at the map all you see is urban areas and roads (big ones- A roads and B roads). Once we decided on this route I had simply planned to walk up the A road for most of the day to our destination. ("A" roads in the UK are anything from super highways think of the A1, A9 etc as I70 or I5 in the US, multiply lanes going very fast- down to "A" roads with 3 digits that are 2 lane but very high speed limit with no shoulders or medians) In this case it was the A96 we wanted to avoid and just so happens to be the major road all the way to Fraserburgh our ultimate designation, so we would be familiar with it for the next week)
While planning this route I received lots of help from Gayle E. Bird and Louise Evans. In the end however it just came down to pointing ourselves in a direction and picking our way through to try and stay off the major roads and still get north.
The pictures for today are not particularly scenic or sweeping but they do give a taste of our story today as this is our last transition day. The distance was suppose to be about 16 miles if everything went smoothly!
After walking a couple of miles through Inverness and going around several busy roundabouts we made it to the overpass for the A9 and then a few more blocks of residential streets to Culloden
Walking through a residential area (above)
Culloden Forest is really just a neighborhood park, not really a true forest in the sense of a wild place, but a large stand of trees with many paths for locals to walk and exercise. In fact we past and talked to quite a few of the locals walking their dogs. They were all curious as to what we were doing and eager to give good advice.
the train line runs through the forest and this tunnel was actually a major marker for me to verify we were where we were supposed to be.
As I mentioned in a previous post most all the land in Scotland is private but their "Right to Roam" access makes it seem like it belongs to the public. Here we witnessed first hand that the land is used for profit and not just preservation. The route that I had planned was closed to logging (what they call Forestry).
After swinging around the closed area and taking a break. We got back on the correct path through the forest and were immediately confronted with large "blow downs" covering the path.
other times it was impossible to get through them and you had to detour in the forest. In some cases like the one below I only got the picture of the front, but the trees were down for a couple hundred feet behind this so you had to pick your way through the forest and try and come back on the trail after the trail was clear again.
This went on for the entire length of the remainder of the forest in this area (about 6 miles of blow downs total)
We finally exited at a home called Culaird and got out of this section of forest. We exited in a beautiful field of Rapeseed (unfortunate name- it is Scotland's Sunflower seed oil equivalent)
Looking east (above) I think you are looking across the Moray Firth to the hills of Cabaan Forest area.
A little selfie for us (above) and a sea of Rapeseed (below)
The last small section of forested area was again more of a city park like setting than a true forest and it backed up to the Inverness Airport. The last forested area brought us out onto a "B" road for a short distance and then a minor road toward Loch Flemington
Right before the "B" road ended a farm with some very friendly horses.
I just couldn't help myself taking this picture of Vicky and "slow" sign- although she is in front of me at the moment and she never complained one bit the whole trip.
Once out of Lochside we walked to Easter Glackton ( a very large commercial farm) and this is where we could go no further without venturing on the A89 for a short bit.
the Delnies Woods Caravan Park (RV Park) was excellent. it was really just like the RV parks we think of in the US. The owners were very nice and we got situated to get off our tired feet. First we had to have an ice cream and coke to congratulate ourselves for surviving the highway!
The weather had been "iffy" all day but didn't really rain and the evening turned out to be really nice. The evening sky was a beautiful blue. I am still hoping for some Northern Lights on this trip. We made dinner and got to bed at a reasonable time and slept well.
After dinner we both took showers and got cleaned up. The facilities were very nice with plenty of hot water and everything was very clean. Future challengers may not need to go this way, but if you do this is a very friendly place to stop.
All bundled up and ready for bed. I think we even managed part of a movie on the iPad before bed.
Today as the unknown day went well. Despite the blow downs in the forest and lots of walking on sidewalks and streets and one stretch on a highway, we managed not to get lost and finish by 4:30 pm. We have reached a stone through from the sea and tomorrow we will be on the coast and again walking east.