Road trip time up to Caithness and the Moray coast with the base for the week being the Royal Burgh of Tain.
July 23 – Day 1 -Road trip day 1 was about checking out the local area. We adventured over to Portmahomack where we stumbled across a welly boot throwing competition courtesy of The Coaltown Daisies and the Randan festival. Let’s say I’m not giving up my day job and Emily trashed me. From here it was up to Tarbat Ness lighthouse and some seal spotting. Final part was down to Balantore to find the Mermaid of the North sculpture.
Back to Tain and after a quick cuppa I headed out for my run. Starting off with a very wobbly jog across the iron bridge it was up the road until I got to Tain Forest. Once here I went for a fab play on the trails coming across the Preaching stone, Dog’s Grave and lots of lovely flora and fauna. Finishing off at Aldie Burn it was then a downhill all the way back to the start. Back into the house 16km later and just in time for dinner…
Day 2 – Tale of two runs today up in Sutherland. First up was down in Alness. I had to kill some time whilst Emily was swimming so I checked out one of the trails I’d found on @strava . Managed to get up to Fyrish power station and the trails in the hills up behind. There were so many trails to be tried but with limited time I managed just a few. The early morning light was stunning shining through the trees and not a sold to be seen.
The afternoon was a family trip to the fairytale Dunrobin Castle near to Golspie. This is the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and Clan Sutherland. Up on the hill, overlooking the Moray Firth is the Duke of Sutherland monument. Another play on Strava maps and I found a cracking 8.5km route. I left the family playing on the beach whilst I went to try it. I went for the straight up route through the forest and mountain bike tracks to the monument. It is massive!!! No missing him up on the hill. I then kept going to the summit of Ben Bhraggie. From here there was a 6km downhill following a drovers path in a loop back to near the bottom of the trail I went up. I love downhills, so much this time that I set my 1 mile PB on it. So far this is my favourite run. To top it off I had a wee ice cream whilst sitting on the beach. I’d offered to buy everyone one but turns out they had one whilst I was running.
Day 3 – Back in Alness again so headed up to Fyrish for a 7km run to the monument. I was still time limited so it was a quick up to the monument from the carpark then a loop round the back. What I wasn’t expecting was the number of trees down on the bottom trail and amount of trees I either had to jump or scramble round. The monument is massive and built in 1782 on the orders of Sir Hector Munro to keep the locals in work at the time of the highland clearances.
Next up was a road trip on the Nigg to Cromarty ferry. It takes two cars at a squeeze! We checked out Rosemarkie and Fortrose, including the dolphin viewing point and the lighthouse and a bite to eat at Crofters Café, Rosemarkie. Would definitely recommend.
Final stop was round to see my friend Fiona and go for a wee swim in her local loch. I was reminded many times that I was a woose for wearing a wetsuit instead of skins. I admit it, I’m a woose!
Day 4- Final day up in Tain and I headed out on the bike. Weather has been so mixed so hoped for a dry couple of hours….well, that didn’t work and I ended up covering the last 5km in a torrential downpour and made to strip on the doorstep before being allowed in.
This was a lovely flat 58km loop taking in Portmahomack, Balintore, Shandwick and the Shandwick stone, Nigg and finally Loch Eye. Beautiful roads, stunning countryside, spectacular statues and monuments.
This area has so much to offer. We didn’t make the many whiskey distilleries or explore all of the trails and villages but we got a taste. There is so much to do for all; walking, mountain biking, running, golf, enjoying food, drinking whiskey, exploring the history and so much more.