Monday, 31 May 2010

Sports report

You know the one. It goes Durham, Durham, Durham, Durham etc.
OK, I'm struggling tonight but I am now in Durham, in Tow Law ( Tow rhymes with cow).
Last night I decided to wash my smalls ( bit of a misnomer given my size) but they weren't dry this morning so I tied pne pair to my bag so they'd be dry for tonight. I suppose that it worked but I'll never know as they fell off on the A68 between Corbridge and here, so its commando tonight.
Weather's been good if a bit warm but heavy rain is forecast tomorrow, oh joy.
On my way I stopped at a pub in Castleside for a quick Lime and Lemonade - honest Maggie - and when a teenage local heard what I was doing and how much it was costing he advised me to get the bus to Consett. He reckons that there's a travel agent there who can get me a better holiday for that kind of money. He's got a point.
Local wildlife is todays pic.
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Sunday, 30 May 2010

The fog on the Tyne

Not sure if I get any closer to Newcastle but everyone has a Geordie accent.
As usual I missed a turn at the sttart today and ended up walking 3.5 hours along the A68, not ideal but no extra miles.
I'm in the Wheatsheaf hotel in Corbridge tonight, very smart but the most expensive for the whole trip, full English for me tomorrow. Still, I reckon I'm worth it
The day has been dry with a cold north wind but its sunny now.
Corbridge is a really pretty little town and I thought I was in heaven with my Sunday carvery and pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord - one of my favourites.
Off to Tow Law tomorrow, 26th walking day.

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Saturday, 29 May 2010

I'm on the road again

I'm in my little room in my Bellingham B+B, bathroom is down a narrow spiral staircase, good job I've lost a little weight on this walk.
It rained for the last 5 miles today and I was foolish enough to turn down 2 drivers who offered me a lift.
Good to hear from Richie M, I often chuckle about him playing scrum half one day with an inked on moustache, although he seems to think I'm a Woody boy. Sorry to disappoint but I was posh from Upton.
I'm a little worried about a bad pain at the bottom of my left leg. I've got pain killer and bandage on it, let's hope it improves overnight.
Todays pic is Bellingham Village hall (I think)
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South of the border

I had a change of plan yesterday and walked to Keilder rather than Byreness, it was an easier walk on quieter roads so a good choice.
Before I rang for my lift back to Bonchester Bridge I managed a celebratory pint of High House Farm brewery's Black Moss, a great way to mark my return to England.
Last night I bade farewell in the Horse And Hounds to the people in BB who had made me so welcome and remarkably had no after effects this morning.
I'm now at the south end of Kielder Water after 2 hours walking and at least 3 more to go.
Thanks once again to Jan and Cliff and Ella for making me so welcome, I nearly decided to stay.
Thanks also to Trevor, Brownie and Maca for their generous contribution and to Jan from Inversnaid and Carleton and Jenny for their comments. I did say hello to the other Endtoender but we didn't stop for a chat.
Pic of Kielder Water
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Engerland, Engerland, Engerland

Crossed the border at 11.30 on Friday 28th May, with Cliff cycling alongside carrying our lunch. Also passed the 400 mile mark.
I am so chuffed!!!

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Busy doing nothing

Its been good day off, sitting around doing nothing and watching others work is strangely satisfying. Watching the rain squalls sweep in was fascinating, really pleased it wasn't a walking day.
Thanks to Henry and Aileen for their generous donation in the pub.
A view from the back of Janet and Cliff's house
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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Walking in the air

Yesterday was my walk from Selkirk to Bonchester Bridge and I was accompanied by my old mates Cliff and Joey. At times it seemed like a scene from Last of the Summer Wine, 3 old blokes ambling through the countryside looking foe mischief. Not sure who was playing the part of Compo.
The walk itself took us through some lovely quiet country lanes and we stopped for lunch on the village green at Denholm.
Unfortunately Cliff ended with a few blisters and this could throw doubt on him walking with me tomorrow. Got to look after him, he's older than me you know.
Jan has got her hands full here at the moment, not only with Joey and I but also with 3 guys from Wirral stopping while they erect the new conservatory. Its a good job she's such an excellent host.
We all ended in the Horse and Hounds last night, it was Deuchars IPA for me Maggie, and I found that I was drinking with Brownie - a good friend of my nephew Mark. On top of that Trevor lives up the road from my Sister in Law Sue.
Its a small world.
Pic shows Cliff and Joey, tired but delighted at the end of 17 miles, with Rubers Law in the background.
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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

There is a green hill far away

And I went over it yesterday. 9 miles of seclusion between Traquair and Selkirk with glorious views.
When I arrived in Selkirk to be picked up by Cliff and Jan I got the surprise of my life when my old school mate Joey Davies got out of the car as well.
He'd only come all the way from Wirrall just to walk a day with me. How cool is that.
My blister on the left foot is playing up but its into the fourth day so hopefully will be OK soon.
17 miles today to Bonchester Bridge then a blessed day off tomorrow.
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Monday, 24 May 2010

The British Grenadier

Some talk of Alexander and some Hercules.
Of Hector and Lysander and such great names as these.
But of all the world's great heroes,
There's none that can compare.

I'm in Peebles tonight and I can't help thinking of one of my old teachers who had the nickname Peb, short for Pebbles. He had loads more but this is the only printable one.
Anyway, there are only two things that I remember about him.
Firstly, he once told us that he knew his nickname as he'd overheard some pupils discussing whether he came from Peebles.
Secondly, he taught us the words to The British Grenadier.
So all together

With a tow row row row row row
To the British Grenadier.

Hey, I'm in the borders. See the guy fishing. A shot of Peebles
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Sunday, 23 May 2010

In the summer time when the weather is hot

Hope this hot spell doesn't last too long, its costing a fortune in bottles of water.
Managed to make the most of early clouds and shade whereever possible and later on a nice breeze blew up, it was still 8 hours hard walking along A roads.
A car stopped and donated and I got a round of applause from some roadworkers, they must have been bored.
An elderley couple also invited me in in Carluke for a cuppa, and they donated. People are so kind.
Now in Vineyard B+B in Carnwath, very nice.

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Fantastic day

I was still not 100 percent yesterday so lay late in bed before a leisurely breakfast of porridge and tea. Clothes were washed and then, while Debbie went to look at wedding dresses David took me to see the local sites.
The amazing Falkirk Wheel was first. This is a massive contraption that lifts boats from the Forth Clyde canal 35 metres up to the Union canal, so that boat traffic can travel from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
The pics show it in action.
We both boarded a boat trip an were soon suspended in mid air enjoying he commentary. From there we could just see the top of Ben Lomond, more than 30 miles away, which I had walked past a couple of days ago.
We then went through Linlithgo, a little old town with many very old buildigs including the palace of Mary Queen of Scots.
A bit of shopping before returning for a relaxed barbie in the hot evening sun. All in all a fantastic day.
Debbie and Dave have been fantastic hosts and I hope that wedding next year is a great success and they have a long and happy life together.
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Saturday, 22 May 2010


Completed the walk from Milngavie to Airdrie yesterday and have now done 302 miles officially, plus a little more for the wrong turn through Lenzie. Thanks for that David!
Sorry to say that I am under the weather with a stomach upset so feeling very tired. Its a day off though so I'm hoping to be ok for tomorrow.
Great to get a comment from Zack, he must be the worlds youngest blogger.
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Friday, 21 May 2010

Every day is a winding road

And my days have wound me to Airdrie where I'm staying a few nights. Seeing David yesterday was a special moment, the first person for three weeks that I could reminisce with about life before the walk. I am being treated royally and will be sorry to leave when the time comes.
I've neglected to mention donations on the road from the dolly sisters who by now will have laughed all the way to Fort William, and also Alan and Davey - thanks lads hope the rest of your walk went well.
Walking The west highland way was a great experience and going against the flow showed me that its really a 95 mile long, 1 yard wide holiday resort. When I started at Fort William the people finishing were bubbly and confidant and were all friends, and as I moved along I started to meet people who were forming friendships and becoming familiar with their surroundings. By the time I finished it seemed that newcomers were quiet and nervous. I'm so glad I did it but I guarantee that I won't be back.
Patricia, many thanks for your comments, hope the tapestry is progressing. The breakfast table conversation has become pretty important to me as its the only time that I can get a captive audience for my tales of the road. I've already bored quite a number of people in B+B's throughout Scotland.
Later today I return to Milngavie to walk the 17 miles back to Airdrie with David, that will crack the 300 mile barrier. I remember posting the 3 mile pic.
Todays pics are the last farewell to WHW
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Thursday, 20 May 2010

I think I'm turning Japanese

OK, not Japanese but def Scottish. Since I've been hear I've eaten mince n tatties, porridge, full Scottish breakfast including all sorts of items not recognisable to anyone from south of the border, and haggis.
I am particularly proud of the haggis as I caught it myself while trying to bag a Monroe.
On top of this I heard myself ask for a wee bag in the shop this morning.
Oh well, soon be in Yorkshire tha knows
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I'm so excited

After the poor start yesterday the day improved, weather got better and I found somewhere for breakfast. Its amazing what a bacon roll and a cup of tea can do for your outlook on life.
I was soon in Drymen ( if you call 8.5 hours soon), arriving too early to check in I bought supplies for the next day and settled down in a corner of the bar in the Clachan Inn. Houstons Peters Well was a good choice.
Russell Whitmore, a LEJOG end to ender from Redditch called in and we shared tales of the road for an hour before agreeing to meet back there later for a meal.
Russell brought further news of Sam, who he had met further down the country but still soldiering on.
We wished each other well and agreed to meet up after I get home.
Today I am only going 13 miles to Milngavie - I can't believe I am using the word only with 13 miles but that's how its starting to feel.
Its exciting to know that David will be meeting me, the first family and friend in 3 weeks. I will have completed my first stage.
I leave you to decide which of these is Russell.
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Wednesday, 19 May 2010


What great day it was, beautiful weather and a lovely place to stay.
When you book a bunkhouse you don't expect a lot but at Inversnaid Bunkhouse you get to stay in a lovingly restored old church, with a top notch licensed bistro thrown in. They've even retained the stained glass windows.
I had the pan fried beef in chocolate and cayenne pepper, with whisky jus. Washed down with two bottles of Marstons Oyster Stout.
If you're hostelling round here this is a must
Only shame was that I couldn't stay for breakfast.
Out at 6.30 today in the mist and rain, then took a wrong turn which hhas added 30 mins to my 22 miles for the day.
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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Walking on sunshine

Just sitting on Crianlarich station platform awaiting the 9.36 to take me to my start for the day. Its a lovely sunny morning and the knees may get an airing this morning.
There's lots of people walking WHW and this place is end of day 3 for most of them. Listening to the stories of blisters and aches and pains, seeing people gingerly hobbling around reminds me of myself only a week ago. They say time is a great healer.
Jim and his group of 6 Glaswegians shared my room last night, two could barely walk and one had already missed a 15 mile stage. Still they managed 3 hours in the Rod and Reel. I also met Scott from Warrington who had to miss a day because of blisters. Hope they are all back on track today.
Some pics on Loch Lomond taken yesterday.
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Monday, 17 May 2010

I'm just a boy who can't say no

David, you're on for camping. I must be mad.
Bev, what a surprise. If you've got my email address get in touch.
Only place in the village for an orange signal is here on the station platform.
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Trains and boats and planes

I've done them all now. Today is a day off but, like all council people I've gone to work.
I get really bored on my rest days and as I was feeling so good this morning I jumped the train to Ardlui on the west side of Loch Lomond and got the ferry over to the east to pick up the WHW path back to Crianlarich. Tomorrow I will do the same train and ferry then head south. Hopefully it will make the next two days easier.
For the last 10 days or so e very time I've been near woods I've heard a Cuckoo calling. After a while it seems as though its shouting You Fool, You Fool. yesterday I started calling back to see if I could quieten it, was I embarrassed when I turned the corner and walked into a large group of walkers.
Country is good for mountain goats as I hope the pic shows
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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Mad dogs and Englishmen

Have now arrived at Tyndrum, halfway stage of day 14. Two pretty good days for weather and walking. Highlight of yesterday was meeting David and Mack in the bar of the Inveroran Hotel. They were Dundee supporters who had come out to the wilderness to escape the SFA cup final.
We had a good chat about football and they donated 5 quid to the cause. Fair play lads, there's always next sreason.
Also met an 87 year old walking from LE to JOG, amazing.
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Saturday, 15 May 2010

Why oh why would I want to be anywhere else

Just woken up after a good sleep, watched Ashes to Ashes before bed. Its pouring down and I've got a 7k uphill stretch to start before I get to the Devils Staircase.
Fire up the quattro.
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Friday, 14 May 2010

Hit the road Jack

I suppose that I should start by saying that my stop at Fort William Backpackers was not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be and here's a pic to prove it. My room did have 7 blokes each night but I was lucky in not having anyone in the bunk above me.
Last night I ended having a most interesting conversation with Robert, a Pole, and Yudi, an Indonesian. Does life get more surreal than that?
On my walk today I was obviously going the wrong way as I counted more than 60 going to FW.
I stopped and chatted to quite a few and two lovely young ladies - they told me to put that in - gave me 10 quid from their drinks kitty.
When I got to Kinlochleven I asked directions to the pub from the school crossing lady. She hailed from Wavertree so we had a conversation about the Picton Clock.
At the MacDonald Hotel I had a pint of Atlas brewery 3 sisters ale, brewed in the village and very nice it was too.
While there I overheard the three Belgians at the next table ringing someone about a Lost Property note they had discovered on the trail. They obviously had the item of lost clothing
At the same time a phone rang at the other end of the bar and, you've guessed it, it was the owner of the lost trousers.
Todays pics are some views from the walk today, finishing with a view over Kinlochleven.

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Thursday, 13 May 2010

Always look on the bright side of life

Since my rather downbeat last post things have improved a bit. I've worked out that I'm now 20 percent through and have covered 188 miles, I will break the 200 barrier tomorrow. The house went quiet enough for me to have a good long shower and I phoned Reg to wish him happy 86th birthday. Not at the same time I hasten to add.
Had a couple of pints in the Grog and Gruel, Cairngorm White Lady and Ullapool Kildonan. No more today, honest Maggie.
On top of all that I've found my key so I'm ten quid richer.
Mark, our family fireman, builder and handyman damaged his knee playing football at Goodison the other day. Get well soon Mark, serves you right for stopping Billy becoming a Blue.
View from my window today.
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How long

Sitting in my hostel staring at grey overcast skies and wondering how long before I admit to the head jailer that I've lost my room key and therefore my 10 pound deposit.
I am definitely not in the lap of luxury here, there are 8 beds I'm my room and last night 7 were taken. The floor is covered by backpacks, mine being tiny in comparison to the others.
Each room has a theme and each bed a name commensurate with the theme. My room is famous scottish battles and my bed is called the battle of the shirts. Its just a mispelling I reckon.
I've opted not to take up the offer of the 2 pound a head breakfast, one look at the teatowels was enough. Anyway Morrisons is only 5 mins away and their full scottish breakfast is only twice the price.
I can't wait to get out of here but I foolishly used the laundry service and I would be seriously short of undies if I left now.
Only another 20 hours here, reckon its time for the Grog and Gruel.
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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Oh Alison

Don't actually know if that's a song title but it should be.
I totally agree with your comment, I also owe Cliff 1.20 for his package of directions. Looks like I'll be topping up the charity again.
Incidentally, I collected 18 pounds while I walked through town today.
How do you sign up for selling the big issue?
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Roll out the barrell

Just arrived at my backpackers hostel at 3.45 to find I can't check in until 5. So posting this to stop the boredom.
Its taken 8.5 hours today, many of them suffering quite a lot of pain in both thighs, I followed the advice about stretching and I'm sure it helped. I think the problem is that some muscles have awoken from a 30 year coma. I'm sure a day off will help.
Most of the day, which has been gloriously sunny, I was staring at Ben Nevis.
I hear that there has been some discussion about my frequent mention of my drinking habits so, for Maggie's benefit I want to say that I didn't have a drink yestertday. It didn't stop me remembering the Cairngorm Black Gold I had in the Fiddlets in Drumnnadrochit (the beer pump was hidden behind all the whisky bottles) or the Cill Chuilmein Best Bitter at the Lock Inn in Fort Augustus.
A couple of views of Ben Nevis for you
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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

You gotta have friends

Its the first time that I've hd access to a proper computer today so I get to look at the blog in all its glory.
Stuart has done agreat job in setting it up.
I am really impressed with the number of official followers, not just close family and friends but more distant acquaintances such as Darren - hope we can both meet up for a beer with Jennifer and Tony when I get back (not forgetting the lovely Helen of course). Also Len Davies who has been losing golf balls in Portugal while I'm soldiering on.
There's young Sam although I wouldn't have recognised her photo, and Angie and Louise from SDC.
Chrisnsandy from NZ were early devotees and I hear that Bob and Enid are also regular readers.
David Hughes not only follows this, he is a source of advice, will be putting me up in a weeks time and will also be walking with me.
Thank you all for being part of my journey so far, you have given me the impetus to carry on.
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These boots were made for walking

But I,m not sure about the legs they are attached to. After about 2 hours today both thighs started to complain, still it makes a change from my feet.
Really good nights sleep in 3 Bridges Guest House, Fort Augustus. I recommend it.
The rout today was pretty flat, along Caledonian Canal and the banks of Loch Oich.
I'm in my hostel now, only 4 bunks in the room but there is nowhere to go for food so I'll be burning my own tonight.
Some views from todays walk.
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Monday, 10 May 2010

Oh what a night

Or anything by the 4 seasons as that's what I've had today. Bright sunshine, snow, hail and wind. To top it all I've tweaked a thigh muscle, I know most of you will be astounded that I have any muscles but I almost feel like a sportsman now.
My roommate last night turned out to be an international class snorer, even better than Griggsy.
Now at Fort Augustus, so Loch Ness is behind me. 150 miles completed. These are various Nessy views and one of the start of the Caledonian canal just for Struan.
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Sunday, 9 May 2010

I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK

What a tough one that was. I had it down as 14 miles but hadn't counted either the terrain or the extra distance of the Great Glen Way.
I'm not good with conversion of miles to kilomeerts but I went past a marker which said I'd done 18k and had 10.8 to do, that has to be more than 14 miles.
Met up with Gareth from Burnley who was out for a Sunday stroll and he walked the whole way with me. The conversation kept me going and we completed in 6 hours.
That apart, the walk along and across the river Ness was beautiful and the first sight of Loch Ness stunning.
Good beer to finish, Isle of Skye Black Cuillin.
In case your wondering, there was an info. Board on the way which said that 2000 Canadian lumberjacks had been shipped in during the last war to help provide timber for the war effort.
Pics show a view back to Inverness after 90 mins and my first view of Ness
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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Lazin on a sunny afternoon

Its a beautiful day in Inverness and I'm having a lazy relaxed day off. A morning shopping and spotting places for my evening meal, followed by sitting in the sun over a pint or two of cider watching the football scores. Well done to Leeds and Tranmere, I know that Blackers will be buzzing tomorrow at golf and that Reg and Mark will be happy too.
All set now for a good walk along Loch Ness tomorrow.
Todays pic is the River Ness with snow covered mountains in the background.
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Friday, 7 May 2010

Good day sunshine

You know what its like, you wake up in the morning not looking forward to the day, it starts badly but turns out really well.
Last night my feet and legs were hurting, not drastically but enough to make me worried about today. When I awoke it was pouring down and looked like it was in to stay. On top of that I was about to do my first ever 4th consecutive day an it was also longer than the 3 previous days.
I hung on over breakfast as long as I could but to be honest even I can't eat a 10th slice of toast, eventually I had to leave.
As I went through the door it stopped raining and after 2 hours the sun came out, there's hardly a cloud in the sky now.
After yesterdays country route I had to return to the A9 today, although I got off it as often as pos.
The road took me over the two major bridges - Cromarty and Moray Firths. Both took about 25 mins and I was glad to get off them.
Anyway, here I am in Inverness lower bunk in a room for 6 people.
Todays pics are a nesting swan right next to the Cromarty bridge, Cromarty Firth and bridge and Moray Firth from the bridge.

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Thursday, 6 May 2010

Country roads

At last, a day away from the A9. Very enjoyable through the forests and valleys. Even made up for the rain o ver the first 2 hours.
Made good time and was in my digs just after 2.00.
Now broken the 100 mile barrier and looking forward to my day off after tomorrows walk to Inverness.
To all my friends at both Stratford and Redditch councils I hope that election day has not been too bad for you, I've found a way to get out of it but it's pretty drastic.
I don't know how to respond to all the comments - so don't worry Viv about lack of technical knowhow - but I do appreciate all the input, just keep it coming.
So far in my first week the best stay I've had was at Blahmor B+B in Golspie, really comfortable, very attentive with great food. The Stornoway black pudding was the best I've ever tasted. At 30 pounds it was by far best value.
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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Happy birthday to you

I understand that I've now got 15 followers.
So happy birthday to Kim, one of my earliest followers.
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Walk on by

You'll see why the title when you see the last pic.
Many thanks for the very positive comments to my Victor Meldrew post yesterday, I found Pete's "stop moaning" helpful and envigorating. It really geed me up for today.
I hope the pics in the next post showed that my temperament was much improved. One of them was Dunrobin Castle. Not realy sure why I included one of Struan masquerading as Zack.
Anyway, on to today - 17 more miles completed and I've been past my 3rd roundabout. The whole journey has been acccomplished with 1 left turn and the rounndabouts. I think tomorrow I get to go right somewhere.
A car pulled up and asked if I was walking for charity, then the driver gave me a tenner. May consider carrying a backpack with " Lands End or bust" on more often.
I'm now in my room at 'Golf View' and will be going to the local curry house tonight.
Get our house on the market Helen, this is my idea of heaven.
Todays pics are a view back to Golspie after 2 hours walking, view of Dornoch Firth and thhe reason for todays title.
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