Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Southbound hike
Dornoch Bridge was not quite as long as Cromarty Firth bridge, and conditions were pleasant, but the footpath is equally narrow, and the railing nearly as low
DN52 Dornoch Bridge
DN52 Dornoch Bridge adjacent
Days N45 - N56                                                                   Scottish Highlands
Day N52 - Tain to Golspie
Day N51                    Bourke-Stewart returns                           Day N53
  Northbound Home
    Start hiking here
    English West Country

    English Midlands
    North of England
    Southern Scotland
    Central Scotland
    Scottish Highlands

Southbound Home
Saturday, May 12, 2007

Time of departure: 8.15 am
Time of arrival: 3.30 pm
Place departed: Tain, Highland
Place arrived: Golspie, Highland

Miles: 17.6
Cum miles: 853.5
Percent complete: 92.0

Bed sign Granite Villa Guest House, Golspie  ****
Cost for bed and breakfast: 30 ($60)
  Overview of both hikes


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DN52 Initials
Someone must have known I was coming and wrote my initials into his wall
DN52 Old bridge
Alice Fraser's Heatherdale B&B in Tain would easily have had my five-star rating for quality, but I knocked a star off for price. This morning I enjoyed yet another full breakfast; they certainly sustain me beyond lunchtime, allowing me to keep walking while snacking instead of seriously eating.

It was pleasant weather this morning.  The clouds relaxed their clammy grip, and for a while it was dry and almost as if the sun might break through, which it never quite did. Fortunately, it was not windy either, and I crossed the Dornoch Bridge quite comfortably, making good progress on the A9 and enjoying a pint of 80/- beer at the Trentham Hotel on a hilltop. At this time of year and these latitudes, the day lasts from 4 am to 10 pm, but not when it’s overcast.  In the afternoon the clouds darkened, and it drizzled - no surprises here.

A group of the Hell's Angels all waved at me as they rode by.  These moments lighten the day.  I wish I could tell you that the Scottish Hell’s Angels wear kilts, because it evokes a beautiful image, but they don’t. 

In fact, this far north, hikers are rare, and any you see stands a good chance of being an end-to-ender – and gets some friendly attention because of that.  Back in England, this isn’t as true.

In the evening, I arrived at the seaside town of Golspie. It has an award-winning beach that runs the length of the town, giving it an airy, relaxed feel. On a warm summer day, this could be a fun place. The local convenience store has ice cream in multiple flavors at the ready.

I checked in at the Granite Villa Guest House nice and early, and enjoyed ample hot water and a strong heater, which was just as well because I was at the top of the house and the walls felt like ice.

I had about 72 miles to go, and was starting to think of how to transport myself south.  My pal, John Gilbert, called tonight, and he volunteered to do some internet research for me.

If you remember Arthur Bourke-Stewart from earlier in my journal, you may be interested in my dream last night. In the dream, he appeared with the real-life flunky from the Gretna hotel, who was dressed in full Highland regalia but had an eastern European accent, so I've named him McSlovak.

The setting for the dream was Balsporran Cottages. But, in the way dreams do, Balsporran Cottages had taken on baronial proportions, becoming Balsporran Manor. Bourke-Stewart and I were dining in a stone walled dining room, with a room-size fireplace, two hunting dogs, and wood rafters bedecked with flags and antler horns. A suit of armor guarded the entrance door. The waiter was McSlovak, recently fired from his reception desk position down in Gretna on account of an indiscretion with a slightly underage female guest, and was now our waiter at Balsporran Manor. Events started on familiar territory, but morphed into a story that was a favorite of my father.

Me: How have you been, Bourkie?

Bourke-Stewart:  Call me BS, Daryl.  Things are great.

Me:  And the whisky business?

BS:  Super, I'm selling Fechan whisky to the Scots as well as the Irish.  Turns out the Scots like a f------ whisky just as much as the Irish.

Me:  But you're looking a little under the weather, BS, aren't you?

BS: Well, yes, actually.  I've got a rotten gut.  But I'll be OK tomorrow.

Just then, McSlovak interrupted to take our orders.

McSlovak:  The soup is excellent!  Scotch Broth, made from scratch.  I recommend it.

Me: Sounds good.  I'll have the Scotch Broth then.

BS:  I'll have a house salad - no soup, thanks.

McSlovak (to BS): Sir, I heartily recommend the Scotch Broth.  You have to try it.

BS:  No, I'll have the salad, thanks.

McSlovak:  Are you quite sure, Sir?  The soup is by far the better choice.

BS (iritated): No soup - just the salad.

McSlovak (offended): Very well, Sir, though the soup is the better choice.  I know you'll regret it.

Having ordered, BS excused himself to run to the toilets.  In that interval, McSlovak and I overheard a conversation that a doctor was having on the phone at the next table . . .

Doctor:  Is that the Mobile Nursing Service in Aviemore?  Good.  I have a patient in Balsporran Manor with severe constipation.  Will you please come round to administer an enema?  He's in Room number 9.  And, by the way, please perform the procedure even if he objects. He needs it urgently - industrial strength if possible.

BS returned, and we finished our dinner.  Indeed, I found the Scotch Broth quite excellent.  McSlovak sullenly served BS his salad.  After the main course and dessert, BS retired for the night while I stayed up for a nightcap in the bar.

Now, in my dream, BS settled down in Room number 6 with a good book. Meanwhile, McSlovak was quietly changing BS's room number from 6 to 9.  Soon after that the Mobile Nurse arrived.  McSlovak offered his help.  He and the Nurse entered BS's room.  Muffled, loud protestations could be heard.  I hardly batted an eyelid as I tried to concentrate on my Drambuie, but I do not deny that I sighed with contentment.

Now you may ask how I knew that McSlovak had removed the top screw on the number 6, allowing it to swing down and become a 9.  You may also ask from whom McSlovak borrowed a screwdriver for that task. Indeed, those are both good questions, to which only McSlovak and I know the answers.  

Next morning, I was breakfasting on eggs and bacon, and sipping my coffee, when BS entered the dining room. What a sight! He walked unsteadily, his face ashen, his hands grasping the seatbacks for support as he made his way to my table.

Me:  Good grief, old chap.  You look terrible.

BS: I feel terrible, Daryl.  What a night!

Me:  What do you mean, BS?

BS:  Well, Daryl, this is a very strange hotel!  Remember how you had the soup for dinner, and I didn't?

Me:  Yes, what of it?

BS:  And the waiter was so insistent that I try the soup, but I declined.

Me:  Yes?

BS:  Well, Daryl, I learned the hard way.  In this hotel, when the waiter says you should have the soup, you should have the soup!   Because if you don't have the soup when they tell you to have the soup, they come to your room in the middle of the night, and they shove the soup up your . . .

Me: What!

BS:  I had a terrible night, I can tell you.

Me:  You do look a bit, err, drained, old chap.

BS:  I can certainly agree with that!

Me:  You'll feel better after a good breakfast.  Try the All-Bran, old man.  With prunes.
Day N51                                 2007 and 2008 Daryl May                              Day N53