This was the first time that the sea was in sight for almost all of the day. I left Brora at 8.35, and walked past the harbour and around the edge of the golf course. At the end of the course, I entered fields adjacent to dunes where the path became indistinct.
Crossing the coastal fence, I walked on and almost stepped on an adder basking in the sun. Thankfully he was more alert than me, and moved to a new position. I reached for my phone to take a photo, but he got bored and slid between the boulders. I wasn’t about to put my hand down the hole to get him to pose again. Moving on, an Eider Duck erupted from the undergrowth, exposing her nest and eggs.
The next excitement came on fording the Loth Burn. The stones were partially underwater, and slippery. Wet socks ensued.
After walking through a caravan park and passing a nudist beach, the path is sandwiched between the railway and the sea. (Geographers would recognise it as being on a rather fine wave-cut platform.) For the best part of an hour you walk through knee high tussocks of grass, being forced onto the boulder-strewn beach every so often. It was a relief when I could cross the railway and ascend to the pretty village of Portgower.
After a quick lunch, I crossed the Garbh Allt, marvelling at its deep gorge, and Helmsdale soon came into view.
I reached the town at 2.35, found the village shop, and bought dinner and breakfast for tomorrow. The hostel is excellent with en-suite facilities, a comfortable lounge and big kitchen. Definitely the best hostel I have used this trip. It is disappointing that a charming Dutch lady is the only other person staying here.
It looks as if the weather is finally deteriorating tomorrow, which is a shame as I am combining two sections of the trail before meeting Alan at Dunbeath. I am promised lots of ascent and descent, combined with wet ground and wild vegetation. Sounds like it could be fun.
Sights along the trail
- stone sculpture
- one of many WW2 defences on the trail
- cormorants – or shags?