298. Langenhoe Hall to Tollesbury

I have set myself a target to complete my coastal walk in 2020. To achieve this I will need to walk at least 5 days each month. At the moment I am hoping to do at least 3 days in Scotland and 2 in the South East. The first two weeks of November had seen torrential rain, which had kept me indoors and added to my frustration at not being able to get out.

I opted to do a single days walk in Essex and decided that I would skip my original planned trip to walk the island of Mersea and instead do the next sequential section onto Tollesbury. The reason for this was the high tides of 5m+ meant that the causeway road – The Strood- linking Mersea to the mainland would be under water when I expected to finish my walk. I would therefore wait a couple of weeks until the tides had dropped to below 5m.
Having read other “coasters” accounts of the section I had planned today it was apparent that footpaths near the coast were few and the roads had little or no verges for safe refuge from the busy traffic. I decided to minimise the road walking to three short sections, using the available inland footpaths.

I drove to and parked in the small village/town of Tollesbury at the free car park close to the coast. I walked into the town and caught the 07:50 #50 bus into Colchester, where I only had a short distance to catch the 8:46 #67 bus towards Mersea. I got off the bus where I started my last walk from – at Langenhoe Hall. The weather was a beautiful sunny autumnal day, with few clouds in the sky and a gentle breeze blowing. My first section of road walking was about half a mile. The road was busy and I managed to make use of a narrow verge. I set off across fields using the fairly well marked signs. I soon made the village of Peldon, where I encountered the second section of road-walking, just over a mile, although not as busy, I had to be alert, constantly crossing the road to get the best and safest side to walk on.
At Little Wigborough I set off across fields leading towards the church at Great Wigborough. The church stands on a hill and although the land is 25m at this point it does give a commanding view over the low-lying farmland and marshes. I continued on field footpaths passing through Hill Farm and then back down to the third and final road section, which was just less than a third of a mile. From there I set off down another footpath taking me towards the village of Salcott – here I met my first obstacle.

Heading over fields near Peldon
Looking down a Salcott Creek

I knew that I would need to pass through a working farmyard, but on arriving at the stile I was confronted by a marker direction pointing somewhere entirely different to the map, a council letter and map tie-wrapped 12″ from the ground – which I had to bend over the stile and read upside down! I got the gist that this was another famous Essex Council diversion, but the map was virtually impossible to read and understand. I crossed over the fence and headed towards a sea bank that contained Salcott Creek and followed this around the periphery of the farm before emerging at the other side. Apparently this was in preparation for the England Coast Path. I suspect that the Essex Council footpath people are idiots and do not have a clue when it comes to displaying signage or imparting diversion information to normal people!

I arrived in Salcott and spoke to a chap, who sounded foreign – Australian in fact; he pointed to the house he was born in – about 30 metres away and said the house behind him was the one he had built some years ago. He said that most people thought he sounded Australian, but he was Essex born and bred.

I set off towards Old Hall Marsh, a large nature reserve that jutted out into the Blackwater estuary bounded by Salcott Fleet and Tollesbury Fleet. I would be walking along the sea wall almost in a complete circle. The walking in the afternoon sunshine was a delight and the short grass footpath was very easy on the feet. Towards the east, the small town of West Mersea, was visible and but a short distance off across the Virley Channel. To the south across Tollesbury Fleet and The Blackwater I could see the blocky incongruent shape of the disused Bradwell Nuclear Power Station, which I would be walking past over the next three walks. At the tip of the peninsula I spoke at length to a bird watcher, I had been keen to know if he had seen a Marsh Harrier, he said yes and there was one back along the reed beds. On my walk back towards Tollesbury I met a few more bird watchers, but try as I did, I did not see a Marsh Harrier. I suppose you need to just stay in one spot and wait, something I am not particularly good at!

I walked around the head of Tollesbury Fleet, still on the sea bank. I passed someone carrying a gun, although sheathed he was heading to the part of the marsh with no public access. I soon found the turn-off back to the car walking past the sewage works. The journey home was slow – I really need to take 2 days walking on future trips.

Looking back towards Salcott from the sea bank
Brent Geese in Salcott Creek
Looking across Virley Channel to West Mersea
Looking down Tollesbury Creek to Tollesbury
Looking across The Blackwater to Bradwell
Twe old Lock-up or Cage in Tollesbury
The square in Tollesbury

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance = 5,433 miles

 

297. Langenhoe Hall to Brightlingsea

I decided that I would need to reverse my walking direction today as I could see no legal or safe place to park my car near Langenhoe Hall. I left my Airbnb in Colchester very early and drove the short distance back to Brightlingsea. I caught the 07:56 #62 bus service into Colchester and alighted near to Colchester Castle. I had about twenty minutes to spare so I managed to find a Greggs and got myself a sausage/bacon bap and a cup of coffee. I then caught the 08:06 #67 bus towards Mersea and got off on the B0125 at the road end to Langenhoe Hall. There was already a queue of traffic behind the bus and I knew that this area was notorious for no footpaths or verges, which I would have to contend with on my next visit to the area.

I set off eastwards towards Langenhoe Hall, walking through a large farmyard and then onto farm tracks. I was heading towards the Fingringhoe Firing ranges where I would walk around the periphery of the range on a designated footpath …or so I thought. I noticed that new infrastructure had been installed and I soon reached a very confusing set of arrow directions. I managed to find a footpath that continued onwards north, but soon came to a kissing gate that in fact had a padlock on it. I was now close to the main entrance to the firing range. I could see no further way north, a chap emerged from the buildings and told me that the path had been diverted some time now, so I headed down the approach road for a few hundred meters to pick up the path again. As I was doing so a car pulled up and I spoke to the Range safety Training officer. We talked awhile and he said he would take a look at the confusing directions that I mentioned to him. I asked why the diversion was in place and he said it was to move the path off MOD land as part of the England Coast Path route. We both agreed that the local Council should have put diversion maps / notices at various locations, also the OS should have amended their online 1:25k maps.

I continued around the firing range and onto the small village of Fingringhoe, where I joined a road, which again was quite busy. Just after the village I descended a farm track past an old mill and crossed the Roman River then walked across fields into the village of Row Hedge. I walked through a huge building site in Row Hedge and emerged on the banks of the River Colne on the opposite bank to Wivenhoe, which I would be passing through in a couple of hours. The walk into Colchester was along the levee above the River Colne. The footpath was hard-core and I made excellent progress to the first bridging point in Colchester, or more precisely Hythe.

Walking around the Fringringhoe Firing Range
Crossing The Roma River at Fringringhoe
Looking across the River Colne to Wivenhoe from Row Hedge
Walking atop the levee above a low tide River Colne
Black-Tailed Godwit near Colchester
An old Lightship now used by the local Sea Cadets in Hythe
Looking back down the Colne at Hythe

I crossed the Colne, which because it is still tidal was no more than a small stream. I began heading southwards along the Colne. On my left was the large campus of Essex University which dominated the skyline. After two miles I entered Wivenhoe. I tried to get a closer look at the Wivenhoe Tidal barrier, which was built 20+ years ago to prevent tidal-surge flooding up river, but a security fence prevented me getting too close. I continued along an excellent footpath along the river which seemed to be very popular with walkers, runners and cyclists.

I soon reached a subsidiary of the Colne – Alresford Creek which I would have to walk around. On the OS map a ford is marked, but I suspect it has been many years since any one last crossed over the creek by foot. There have been a number of 4×4 crossings. This YouTube footage from 2008 shows a plough device on the front of a land rover moving the mud away. I suppose with waders on I could have crossed on foot and saved some mileage!

I continued eastwards along the northern shore of Alresford Creek towards the tidal mill on the B1027 near Thorrington. After reaching St. Andrews church on the outskirts of Brightlingsea, I had a bout of laziness and decided winding my way through a myriad of roads, lanes and paths out to the sea bank at Alresford was not for me, preferring to take a more direct route back to my car.

 

Looking across to Row Hedge from Wivenhoe
The Colne Barrier at Wivenhoe
Looking down The Colne, now at high tide
Alresford Creek ford
Tidal Mill at the head of Alresford Creek
The Millenium Oak at Brightlingsea
Batemans Tower at Brightlingsea, with its slight ‘lean’ to the right

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance = 5,417 miles

 

 

296. Clacton-on-Sea to Brightlingsea

Because it is now a 400 mile round trip to Essex I needed to fit at least two days of walking in, so I decided to book an Airbnb in Colchester.

I gave myself an extra one hour travel time from Shropshire and opted to take the M1 – M25 route that the Sat Nav offered me. The A14 was closed right at its start at the M6/M1 junction so the decision was an easy one to make. Unfortunately, there was an accident on the M1 that held me up for almost an hour – it was touch and go whether I would make my first bus. Fortunately, once past the accident I had a clear run and I was able to catch the 07:12 #62 bus from Brightlingsea to Wivenhoe. Here I caught a train to Clacton-on-Sea. I only just made the train because the bus had to contend with the morning commute traffic and various road works. I was a bit aggrieved and confused  why the ticket machine would not accept my Senior Railcard. When I reached Clacton I went to the ticket office to query this. It turned out that my Senior Railcard is invalid on “Peak Time” journeys into and within the South East. I had never had any problems in the past with “Peak Time” travel in other Regions. I had always thought that Standard Anytime tickets which my Railcard allows for, means  “Anytime” !

As I emerged from Clacton rail station, still fathoming what “anytime” meant it started to rain, I decided I needed a coffee and a sausage/bacon bap from Greggs! I set off down the Promenade where the rain gradually eased and stopped. I passed by a couple of Martello Towers which had been very prevalent along this stretch of coast. The next settlement I came to was Jaywick. Infamous for being desinated as the most deprived town in the UK since 2010, it was also known for appearing on a political advert for the Trump party in their US mid-term elections. Depicting a street which had all the elements of a “Shanty Town” I was keen to see the street myself. What I did see however, was an attempt by the Council to tidy the place up with all the short roads leading to the shoreline being recently paved and tarmacked – to be fair I’ve been to a lot worse places. Virtually all of the buildings in Jaywick are “pre-fabs” and while some are shabby and decrepit others are beautifully maintained and looked after – I suppose that is the same for most places in the UK. The two places that did look really scruffy were the next two settlements along the coast namely Seawick and Lee-over-Sands.

I was now heading along the top of the grassy sea bank, which began to head north into combined estuaries of the Rivers Blackwater and Colne, more specifically Brightlingsea Reach. Although the grass was wet, my feet were kept dry by my North Face Hedgehogs. I had hoped to make use of a road that ran down to Lee-over-Sands, but I suspected it was a private road, so I simply followed the sea bank around to the sewage works where the path turned inland. I knew that a large black palisade fence barred my way if I continued on the sea bank to Point Clear. I followed the footpath on to Wigboro Wick Farm, where I saw a small map attached to a finger post that indicated a couple of extra permissive paths, but which ultimately pointed back to the public footpath I was already on. I followed the farm lane north to a minor road which passed into the strung out town of Point Clear.
Point Clear is at the end of a small thin peninsula that juts out into the Colne estuary. The tip of the peninsula is called St. Osyth Point which is surrounded by a “Holiday Village”, what this means is unclear to me, except to say the number of decrepit pre-fab houses gave the impression of a really run-down place.

Martello Tower in Clacton
Recently paved and metalled road at Jaywick
Seawick
Lee-over-Sands
Many of the houses in Lee-over-Sands were built on stilts
Approaching point St. Osyth with Mersea island across the Colne Estuary

I turned eastwards following the shoreline of Brightlingsea Creek, the creek was very narrow with Brightlingsea itself just about 200metres away, but it would take me another 3 hours to get around this estuary to the other side. The sea bank I was on passed around into a subsidiary water channel called St. Osyth’s Creek. I eventually arrived at the first bridging point of the creek hoping to follow a footpath towards Howlands Marsh Nature Reserve. Unfortunately due to a combination of high tides and recent heavy rain the footpath was flooded and I could see no way of getting around it.
So I headed into the nearby town of St. Osyth passing the scaffold-cladded Priory of St. Osyth and onto the B1027 and out of the town. The road was quite busy, but I managed ok using a combination of intermittent footpaths and a reasonable verge. After a few miles I was glad to get back onto a proper footpath and continued along a farm track to Marsh Farm, then onto Marsh Farm House. I soon reached the outskirts of Brightlingsea and made my way through residential streets towards the marina and then onto my car.

I then drove to Colchester to my Airbnb. That evening I walked into the town to visit the local Weatherspoon’s, called The Playhouse, it was indeed once a theatre and still retained many of the original features from when it first opened in 1929.

Looking across Brightlingsea Creek to the town of Brightlingsea
A large Thames Barge at the end of St. Osyth Creek
Flooded section of path
St. Osyth Priory

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 5,401 miles

 

 

 

295. Great Oakley to Clacton-on-Sea

Although the weather forecast did not look that good, especially as it was down to rain for most of the day, I thought I would give the walk a go. Generally, I’ve found that the BBC forecast can be a bit pessimistic! So today would be a day’s walk in Essex, which meant for an early start. Fortunately, the drive over from Shropshire was trouble free with no road diversions in place. There was also a bus service available in order that I could get to the start of the walk.

I parked on the seafront in Clacton-on-Sea and was careful to find the free parking section using Google Street view. I then caught the 07:57 #3 bus to Great Oakley. The bus service was run by a new bus company to me – Hedinghams and I was impressed to catch a bus at this time on a Sunday morning.

I could see that the area had had a great deal of rain overnight so I selected to walk in my boots, as opposed to my walking shoes. The first part of the walk was to circum-navigate the explosives factory at Bramble Island and keep off the roads as much as possible as they have little or no verges to walk along. I made good use of the available footpaths which were not very muddy and took me ultimately to the head of Hamford Water near Beaumont Cut. I did have a couple of short footpath diversions to contend with and was totally flummoxed by the 3 page “Council legalistic speak” on the notices attached to a finger post. I just gave up trying to interpret what they said  and just followed the pointers! I soon met a local chap out with his dogs and we had a nice chat about a number of things. I stayed on the sea bank for the next hour and a half as it snaked eastwards. I did have views out to the small islands of Skippers Island and Horsey Island, with the Felixstowe Dock cranes in the far distance. At Kirby Quay, I came inland quite a bit before crossing over a concrete dam and onto another section of sea wall that took me out to Peters Point. It was not long before the footpath turned inland again, this was at the start of the tidal road out to Horsey Island. I followed a lane inland to the outskirts of the small village of Kirby-le-Soken on the B1034.

The Maybush Inn Great Oakley
Council “Mumbo Jumbo” re: a footpath diversion
The sea bank at Beaumont Cut
Little Egret at Hamford Water
Skippers Island
Dam at Kirby Quay
The tidal road out to Horsey Island

I followed the road, on a footpath, into Walton-on-the-Naze. Here, after visiting an M&S Food hall for some snacks I joined up with the sea bank at Walton Mere, following the footpath around Sole Creek and past a holiday park. The official and marked public disappeared on the map, but it was obvious the footpath continued along the sea bank towards Walton Channel and Walton Hall Marshes. I was now walking the headland that is the Naze, which juts out into the North Sea. At its NE corner, I reached the actual coast, here my left foot started playing up, in particular the flexy part between my sole and toes. To make matters worse I was now heading into quite a strong headwind, which would be against me for the next 8 miles! And it started to rain and fatigue started to creep in! Grrrrr!

I was now heading due south and soon made a quick call to Naze Tower, a square brick building built in 1720 by the Trinity House to act as a day mark. I did not linger at the tower but continued on along the cliff top, feeling tired and trying to ignore my sore foot. I passed a multitude of coloured beach Huts, 4 deep in places that extended way beyond Walton and past Frinton-On-Sea. By the time I reached the Holland Haven golf club I was now walking along the sea wall proper. With the high tide the beach had disappeared and the sea was breaking along the base of the wall.

I could now see Clacton in the distance and I was wishing the walk would end soon. I passed through the small outlier of Clacton that is Holland Haven and then into Clacton itself. It was certainly strung out and I was desperate to catch a glimpse of the pier, because I knew my car was parked about 400m from it. When I did eventually see the pier it seemed miles off and for the next hour just didn’t appear to get any closer! The pain in my left had subsided some time ago, but the wind was still there. I eventually arrived back at the car, amongst the thinning visitor crowds as the late afternoon wore on. Not a bad days walking, but became rather mundane walking along the promenade.

At Peters Point on The Naze looking across to Felixstowe in the distance
The Naze Tower
Looking back at Walton-on-the-Naze pier
Heading along the Sea Wall at Holland Haven
The pier at Clacton-On-Sea
Martello Tower “F” with old Coastguard lookout at Clacton

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 5,383 miles

 

 

 

294. Alness to Balblair

Today would be another day of walking along roads, although in actual fact I would not be walking on the roads themselves, but on footpaths and wide verges away from the roads.

My end point for the day was to reach the small hamlet of Balblair on the Black Isle. I parked at a small car park at Newhall Point which provides an excellent view across Udale Bay, part of Cromarty Firth, to the Fearn Peninsular. I had a number of public transport options in getting back to Alness and I chose to catch the 07:38 #21 bus to Duncanston crossroads on the A9 and then pick up the 08:08 #25x bus to Alness. I must admit I was rather apprehensive not only about picking up a bus from a layby on the A9, but only have 8 minutes between buses. In the end it all worked out well.

I set off from Alness on pavements and footpaths which roughly followed the B817, which broadly followed the A9 a few hundred meters away. The footpath was also the NCN1 cycle route and provided a relaxed and stress-free route. I passed out of Alness and into and through the neighbouring town of Evanton. Inevitably, I knew I would have to join the A9 some time or later. The ironical thing about walking along the A9 is that although the road is very busy and has fast flowing traffic, but it is probably safer than some of the minor roads, due to its wide and well mown verge.

I soon arrived at the Storehouse of Foulis, now a visitor attraction and housing a restaurant, exhibition and gift shops etc. The centrepiece of the site is the fully restored 18th century Grade A listed Girnal or Rent House used to store grain in days gone by. The Girnal also houses a museum dedicated to the Clan Munro.

The Cromarty Bridge came into view and it was not long before I was crossing it and stepping onto the Black Isle. I opted to stay on the road all the way to Balblair, as the rocky foreshore is very slippy underfoot.
I must admit even though I enjoyed this walk, I could not find a great deal to write about even though the scenery from the elevated road on The Black Isle was outstanding. I think it was just a case of putting the miles in and ensuring I get over The Kessock Bridge on my next trip up north.

Early morning in Alness High Street
Following the NCN 1 cycleway
I think this is a means to harvest Beech Nuts
Alongside the A9
The Girnal at Storehouse of Foulis
Looking across the Cromarty Bridge
The view eastwards from the Cromarty Bridge
Looking down on the Cromarty Bridge
The view across Udale Bay towards Nigg

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:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24728

 

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 5,360 miles

 

293. Nigg Ferry to Alness

Today will be predominantly road walking as I make my way around Cromarty Firth. I decided  that I would leave my car in Alness and walk back to my Airbnb from Nigg Ferry.

I caught the 07:51 train to Tain; not for the first time has the guard not come for my fare and very few of these stations have ticket machines. In Tain I had just over 35 minutes to kill before I caught the 08:35 #29 bus to Nigg Ferry so I bought a paper and read it in the Rose Garden.

At Nigg Ferry I set off back down the road,  which was surprisingly quiet. With the sun  out and it was a lovely autumnal morning to be out walking. I followed the B9175 to the small hamlet of Arabella, here I turned down a minor road that was dead straight for almost two miles. The land around here is very flat with a number of small water courses to get around. The road eventually crossed the railway line and soon joined the A9 at Kildary. I thought I would have to wait to cross over the A9, but surprisingly it was very quiet.

I joined the B817 for a short distance before diverting into the small village of Milton, which in days gone by was an important staging point for drovers moving their cattle south. I re-joined the B817 which had no path or verge in most places. I had to have my wits about me as the road was not especially quiet. I passed through the strangely named hamlets of Barbaraville and Pollo. The road finally joined up with the Cromarty Firth shore and I was able to walk a short distance on the beach before I entered Saltburn and a proper footpath appeared. Saltburn is a small outlier of the larger town of Invergordon. Once a large naval base, today Invergordon is an important location for services to the oil industry. I noticed a number of very large and colourful painted murals on the gable ends of a number buildings in the town, something to do with the Invergordon “Off the wall Project”.

As I walked out of Invergordon I joined up with an excellent cycle/footpath all the way back into Alness. Even though it was nearly all road walking, it was still an enjoyable walk. Tomorrow would be more road walking as I continue my journey around the Cromarty Firth and onto the Black Isle.

Passing oil storage tanks at Nigg Ferry
Looking down the Cromarty Firth to Invergordon
A very quiet A9 at Kildary
At the Mercat Cross in Milton
Looking towards Nigg Ferry and Cromarty from near Saltburn
Heading towards Saltburn
Saltburn Pier
Mural in Invergordon
Invergordon mural
Semi-submersible drilling rig in cold storage

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:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24726

Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance = 5,342 miles

 

 

 

292. Portmahomack to Nigg Ferry

 

I headed off  to Scotland again to get three more days of walking in. This trip would see a mixed bag, with the majority of the walking being done on the road, particularly the second and third days. I drove up the day before and checked into my Airbnb in Alness.

My first days walk would continue my trek around the Fearn Peninsular and be predominantly along the shoreline. I first drove to Nigg Ferry where I parked my car. Although the ferry service across the Cromarty Firth had stopped for the winter, a bus service still ran to Nigg Ferry. It was very cold as I waited to catch the 07:48 #129 bus to Tain. The bus was packed with schoolchildren as well as workers. In Tain I waited 10 minutes to catch the 08:40 #24 bus to Portmahomack.

I headed north along the shore over very level and easy terrain. I soon came to the remnants of a whale, one of the bones was massive. I think it could have been a Sperm Whale which was washed up here about 5 or 6 years ago. Sections of the bone had been removed by a saw either for analysis or just trophy hunters. I followed the shoreline for an hour towards the lighthouse at Tarbat Ness. The lighthouse is now in private hands and a sign asked that visitors keep to the perimeter fence. The grounds of the lighthouse were carpeted in a lush green lawn and I was quite startled to see two robotic lawnmowers appear around a corner! I rounded Tarbat Ness and bid goodbye to Dornoch Firth and said hello to The Moray Firth.

Drinking fountain to celebrate the arrival of piped water to Portmahomack in 1887
The massive bone of a Sperm Whale washed ashore here in 2013
The lighthouse at Tarbat Ness
Tarbat Ness

Most of the northern end of the Fearn Peninsular has a raised beach running along its eastern seaboard, this provides a good walking path for most of its way. Before arriving at the small hamlet of Rockfield I passed Tarrel’s Bothy which was all boarded up and I doubt in use as a bothy given that it had a large garage door in its gable end! I passed through the old fishing hamlet of Rockfield, nestled below the cliffs on the raised beach.

I passed below the restored late-16th century Ballone Castle and continued along the beach towards the “Seaboard villages” of Hilton, Balintore and Shandwick. I made a quick visit into the Spar shop for drink and food before continuing onto Shandwick. Here I asked 3 or 4 locals if I could get to Nigg Ferry below the cliffs, 3 people said I could ………maybe. I decided to give it a go, even though high tide was imminent. I managed to get about 400m along the shore around a couple of bluffs before I ran out of beach. Here the cliffs were very steep, with impenetrable gorse covering the steep hillside. I found a small gully and thought I could beat my way through it with a wooden stick I found on the beach. However, it would have taken me a very long time and there was no guarantee I could get through the gorse to the higher ground. My only option now was to retrace my steps back along the rocky beach before I was completely cut off by the tide. I managed to squeeze past the rising tide, which only left me with about 1.5m to get by. I knew the route south from here was covered in thick gorse and a number of steep gorse-filled ravines, which other “coasters” before me avoided by going inland.

I managed to get back onto the shore and headed into field of cattle that had calves, I don’t think they wanted me there, so I gave them a wide berth. I headed through a small disused quarry and then found a rough farm track. Time to check my map and plot a route, only to discover that it was gone along with the map case……..bugger! The map could have been dropped anywhere, including the rocky beach! There was no way I could continue over the higher ground to negotiate the gorse, ravines and forest sections, so I decided drop down to the road which was  about an half mile away. I knew this road followed the base of the Hill of Nigg and would eventually take me back to Nigg Ferry.

I had wasted about an hour trying to get along the beach and still had some 6 miles of road walking to do. Eventually I passed through the small village of Nigg and I noticed a sign for The Stone of Nigg. The stone is an incomplete Pictish carved stone dating to the end of the 8th century and is now housed in the Old Church of Nigg. The church closed at 17:00, I checked the door…locked, I checked my watch….. Ten past five! I walked around the church looking in through the windows but could not see the stone.

I continued along the road for another 2 miles to Nigg Ferry and completed the walk after walking for 9 hours. It had been a great walking day, with the gorse covered area south of Shandwick the only downside.

The Old Salmon Bothy at Wilkhaven
The route south along the raised beach
Ballone Castle
Easy going south of Rockfield
Tarrel’s Bothy
The dramatic cliffs near Geanies Point
Heading towards The Seaboard villages of Hilton, Balintore and Shandwick
The Mermaid of the North at Balintore
Heading South from Shandwick
Running out of beach
Heading inland skirting the gorse
The disused pier at Nigg Ferry
A collection of Jack-up and semi-submersible oil drilling rigs in The Cromarty Firth
Looking across the Cromarty Firth to the small town of Cromarty

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:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24725

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 5,325 miles