I had spent the night in the car, in a small off-road parking slot that shielded me from the worst of the winds at the head of Loch Eriboll. I wanted to get an early start on the road, so was up and away by 06:30.
Today’s walk was along the A838 and because of the absence of public transport I would have to do an out and back using my bike. The early start would mean I would have the road to myself for the first couple of hours, before the NC500 brigade finished their breakfasts and put foot/hand to throttle. I must admit I don’t mind road walking, it’s generally dry underfoot and you can make good progress as well as enjoying some amazing scenery, it’s just when you are constantly verge-hopping that it becomes a pain. I drove to a small pull-in I had detected on Streetview on the open moor about a mile east of Hope Bridge. This would be point where I would set off across the moorland towards Whiten Head on my next walk, but today was getting around Loch Eriboll. I got the bike out of the car and set off back down the road towards Laid.
I arrived in Laid, by the tea rooms and immediately turned around. The weather had improved slightly with a drop in wind, but the persistent showers continued. I started pushing my bike along the A838 towards Hope Bridge. Most of the higher hills around me where still cloaked in cloud. I started thinking and planning how I would tackle the remaining sections to John O’Groats. It looked like for most of the way I could keep off the main road and after reaching Tongue public transport would not become an issue.
After passing through the small hamlet of Eriboll and just approaching Ard Neakie, a small piece of land connected to the shore by a narrow isthmus, the camper vans and motorcycle convoys began. The road climbed steeply out of Loch Eriboll and eastwards down towards Loch Hope and Hope Bridge. By the time I reached my car I was soaked and a bit cheesed off.
I drove into Tongue to get a drink and contemplate what to do next. The persistent showers continued. As I waited in a car park on the Tongue Bridge, with the rain continuing and the forecast of more of the same tomorrow, I decided to call it a day and headed home.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 14.5 miles
Total distance = 4,926.5 miles