We had a lovely stay in Forse House - the dogs were so happy and we had a lovely big room! Breakfast was delicious and the owners were lovely and so kind to us. We’ve been having dioralyte to rebalance our sales/minerals etc. which Olivia hates. Having seen her eying up the gin and tonic cake earlier, they brought her a small slice to take away the taste!
Both of us have finally sorted our feet (touch wood) so we were raring to go, however the wind had other ideas. Because the route was taking us along the cliff tops the wind was a factor to consider. With gusts of 29mph we were unsure if we would be able to do it, but we identified and investigated a couple of potential drop off points, settling on one just north of Berriedale.
We arrived in the car and the first challenge was actually to open the car doors, such was the strength of the wind! With the walk down to join the path also very blowy we weren’t sure if it could go ahead. We decided to give it a try, with Wendy waiting at the drop off point for 10 minutes in case we couldn’t continue.
By staying on the ‘wrong’ side of the wall we were safe from any gusts and surprisingly the cliff tops were actually more sheltered. We made our way along, amazed by the scenery! We didn’t think it could get any better but as we travelled further and looked back it got better every time!
Eventually we headed uphill back inland (a challenge when the wind is doing everything it can to blow you back down), across fields and through a lovely little wood with views of Dunbeath Castle. Exiting the woods we walked along the old A9 before descending into the lovely Dunbeath past the Heritage Centre.
Here we met Wendy and the dogs for lunch (which Forse House had very kindly made for us). We ate at a lovely picnic area overlooking a small bay. After lunch Olivia and the dogs had a great time on the beach. We explored the village a little, wishing we had longer to spend there.
Because the uncertain start had wasted a lot of time, and we were making relatively slow progress as we couldn’t see where we were putting our feet, we knew we couldn’t make it to our end point of Whaligoe by a reasonable time. Therefore we made the decision to travel in the car from Dunbeath to Lybster (approximately ... miles). We were dropped off at the harbour which was also beautiful.
We walked back up the hill onto the Main Street, and headed out to the cliffs again over some swimming pool steps being used as a stile!
Once again the scenery was absolutely stunning with the cliffs, stacks and sea arches looking incredible in the sunshine, as well as abandoned houses. The going was tough over thick and uneven grass but we were managing alright! There were also waterfalls to cross and plenty of stiles to negotiate.
After walking on this tricky terrain for some time we were starting to struggle. Our ankles seemed to spend more time bend and twisted into awkward positions than they did upright! We were also fighting our way through thistles and nettles. Coming across Clyth harbour really lifted our spirits - it was beautiful and quite surreal!
Avoiding some cows and calves we continued on. We saw lots of birds including fulmars and also some seals relaxing on a rock (which we heard before we saw!). By this point the going was getting really tough and we were having to climb under, over and through barbed wire fences, across burns and up and down gulleys. We walked past a lighthouse where we had a 2 minute rest on some rocks.
Leaving the lighthouse we started to get very lost. We knew we were heading in the right direction but we were struggling to locate a path, and we were getting increasingly tired travelling over such challenging ground. In most places the thick grass was so long it was up to our thighs. After Olivia fell down a hole which swallowed her whole leg, we made the decision to head up to the road which we could hear in the distance and didn’t think sounded too busy.
Reaching the road, we had no idea where we were, how far it was to Whaligoe and we had no signal to check. For the first time we walked along the main road, hopping onto the verge as cars came whizzing past. Eventually we had enough signal to phone Wendy and determine that we weren’t too far away after all. Finally we made it to Whaligoe around 6.30, and after tea we went down to explore the steps which were amazing!
It was yet another tough day (perhaps we should only start mentioning when they’re easy!) and to be quite honest we’re amazed we made it with all our ankles still in tact. The scenery was beautiful but we certainly had to work hard for it!
In August 2019 we're walking 500 miles round the North Coast of Scotland in memory of Kevin Kerr, raising money for MND Scotland, Marie Curie & SITraN
Day by day