Saturday, 28 July 2007

Dunbeath to somewhere on the A99 - Dave's master plan, it's just around the bend

At the Kareoke night in Scarborough, Dave outlined his plan. He would drive Lynne up to Scotland in his camper van. Surfboard on the top (just in case) & motor bike on the back. Drive the van to each day's destination point & then bike back to meet us, walk, and then drive back to pick up bike!
With difficulty, I tore myself away from the bungalow and Dornoch, promising I would be back. Next time, in better weather to appreciate the lovely garden!
Dave can and will talk to anybody & everybody & by the time we caught up with him parking his bike, he introduced us to Carolyn. She was very enthusiastic about our cause & offered us toilet & water facilities before we left. She also told us about Alan. Now, at this point I have to digress...

I hadn't met any LEJOGers along the way, and then, on the Great Glen Way I met two couples JOGLEing. The first, a young couple from Southampton were camping all the way. We swapped stories & E mail addresses. The second couple must have been mad, they were camping it with a horse and a whippet. Knowing where I'd been & where they were was mind boggling.
Back to Alan. Finally I met someone going "My Way". He was rather taken aback when I said "You must be Alan" We all walked together for a while until we stopped for lunch and he walked on. A few miles further along the road we came to the birth place of Neil M Gunn (who?) Author & Poet, and what a history! The Gunns are big cheese around here. At the Gunn Museum, we caught up with him again, or rather, his abandoned rucksack. Tempted to have a joke & throw it over the hedge, we thought better of it & found him washing his socks in the P.C's. I take my orange hat off to him, I most definitely couldn't have done it this way. A recently retired clergyman, he'd already walked a few hills & dales. This was the big one he'd been waiting to accomplish. On a budget of 48p a day, (not including beer money) he was wild camping it all the way.

We walked on, the four of us, to the next town, where we celebrated getting off the A9, albiet, briefly, with a pint (or two) at the "Bay View Hotel" were they having a laugh? what bay, what view? according to the old drunk we passed on the way out it was "The Two Titties" the hills he wildly pointed to in the distance, which did, on closer inspection look like...well I'll say no more!
Alan had a plan to get off the A road, as he was camping, he could make those decisions. We weren't. (and the disused railway line was not such a good idea in the cold light of day) Arranging to meet up on Sunday at J.O.G. we carried on and on. Dave had driven the van precisely 14.5 miles from where we started. Lynne & I whinged & moaned," We must surely be there by now?" "Just around this next bend" five minutes later, "Oh, must be the next bend" was the same reply for the next 5 miles.

Finally, we picked up the van & the bike & made our way to Keiss. In the middle of a refurbishment the hotel wasn't that great, but fortunately the food was. Just as well, there was nowhere else to eat here. A pretty dismal looking place. Oh how I was missing Dornoch. Dismal it may be, but it was right on route for "Lejogers" or "Joglers" and that's how we met "Slick Dick" & his long suffering girlfriend.

At the next table, writing notes on a pad with one eye on us, quite clearly desperate to strike up a conversation. Aha, I thought, Just like we were in the Turks Head in Penzance, excitedly writing about "The first day" He's doing the same! We can swap stories. But no, all "Slick" was interested in was himself and he was there to tell us all. A super cyclist, he was planning to arrive at Land's End in 12 days time. His girlfriend was there as back-up team, with the car & supplies. Up at the crack tomorrow, he was cycling from the top. "Better turn in for an early night, see you all at breakfast" he cheerily called. "Smug b.....d" we thought, and finished off the half bottle of wine he'd left on the table.

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