About 5 weeks ago now there was a charity walk/cycle in town. I thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved with my new community and do some walking. Also, I didn’t bring my bike with me (not thinking that cycling was a “thing” up here) so the cycle was out of the question!
The walk was from Rhiconich back to Durness – 14 miles, up the main road. It is in memory of a local man who died quite young from cancer. Sponsorship money raised goes to various cancer charities and other local causes. Here are some links with some more information about it: http://new.durness.org/?page_id=2335
We caught the bus down to Rhiconich with about 10 other people.
There were a couple of people running it, who set off first . . . and a few of the locals got straight off the bus and into the Rhiconich pub for their first drink! This was at about 8:30 in the morning! After standing around for a little while, we headed off – Merlin and I, and a guy I know from town (the one who identified my deer ked bug last year).
The walk was pretty straight forward – it was straight up the main road. As usual when I’m walking with someone else, I paid much less attention than normal to where I’m going. It was a lovely day and I do love the scenery, but it was quite a long, uneventful walk!
Merlin had to be on the lead most of the time. There were quite a few sheep around on the road (and Merlin is still VERY interested in sheep), and on the windy sections of road it was just easier to keep him on lead in case there were cars coming. Sadly, Merlin is not the most fun to have on lead, especially not for an extended period of time, with sheep trotting along in front of him!!
The event was very well organised, with support cars going up and down the road, handing out fruit, lollies and drinks and checking on everybody and picking up people who couldn’t keep walking.
There was also a “refreshment stop” at Gualin House on the way. It was amazingly set up, with drinks, soup, scones, cake, biscuits and fruit.
It was also very well patronised. As I said, there were only 10 or so people on the bus with us, however I was amazed at the refreshment stop when more and more people showed up.
Walking down the road a bit further on, I looked around and could see people strung out all the way down the road! There were probably over a hundred people, and many of them children. It was fantastic to see so many young people out doing such a long walk. I think it reflects on the much more active, outdoor lifestyle up here.
About half way through the walk we started being passed by cyclists as well. They had cycled all the way from Lairg – 60 miles. It is hilly, the roads are rough and they had a headwind for the last part. It would’ve been a pretty tough cycle. The people ranged from serious lycra clad cyclists on expensive bikes (from the cycle clubs down south), to locals in leggings on rusty old mountain bikes who’ve only been out training a couple of times due to the bad weather. Again, it was very impressive seeing these locals getting out there and doing it. They are certainly a tough mob!
There was more amazing catering when we finished at the Village Hall, and a charity auction and dance that night. I must admit I missed most of the dance because I was at the pub drinking with a bunch of military (they had been in town for 2 weeks doing training exercises and they had Sunday off, so got to go out on Saturday). I did eventually get to the dance . . . in the front of a Swedish Viking armoured vehicle!! The dance was a lot of fun, . . . and keeping moving probably stopped me from being so sore the next day!
After pulling on the lead the whole way, and running around like an idiot whenever he was of the lead, Merlin was still being stupid all the way home. I got him home and washed him (he had half the countryside in his coat!!), then went back to the Hall for a while. When I got home again (before the pub and dance), all I could hear was “thump-thump-thump” from the top of the stairs. I poked my head around the corner and he was lying at the top of the stairs, with his head hanging over the edge and his tail thumping on the floor. His look said “I really want to come down and greet you mum, but I just can’t get up right now”!!
(And a big thankyou to the people who sponsored me for this walk!)