The forecast was rain today and rain it did. Having driven a fair distance yesterday we were quite happy to get up late and sit by the fire reading and planning some walks for later in the week.
By early evening the rain had cleared and we ventured out to find several sheep in the road outside. As most of the sheep are fenced in here, I did wonder if they should be out but as I am away from home, have no idea who they belong to. At least there is not much traffic here.
We wandered down to the beach for a spot of beachcombing and trying to photograph the oystercatchers we saw yesterday.
The fishing boats were moored but on the other side of the harbour wall one was set up for an early start tomorrow. As the forecast is much better for tomorrow, we are hoping to be up fairly early to make the most of the good weather and walk around Torrisdale Bay.
Today was a perfect day for driving, blue sky and sunshine but not too hot. I could see the hills ahead even from the city bypass and Sounds of the Sixties on the radio gave me a few ideas for the Lincoln Highway playlist which is under construction. We passed the Kelpies near Falkirk and the very familiar Ochil hills. There was still some snow to be seen on the Trossach hills. Driving through Dunblane took me past the restaurant I used to work at (now an Indian restaurant) and the old school bus stop. There were a few new buildings around but many things had not changed much at all. James saw a collection of photographs of distilleries in an Edinburgh Reclamation company we visited a few weeks ago and had the idea of compiling his own collection. We will never have the wall space so I agreed it could be a photographic book on the distilleries of the British Isles. This meant was had to divert off the A9 to Tullibardine in Blackford. Driving on the old road through the village was reminiscent of finding old sections of Route 66 off the interstate two years ago. Inside the distillery, a purchase had to be made.
The Blackford Hotel is now defunct and James remembered stopping off for a drink there on a Dundee football outing heading further south many years ago. Back on the A9 there were numerous warnings about deer on the road (I saw one hind grazing on the embankment and two corpses by the road) and there are now average speed cameras most of the way. Inverness CT fans were heading to Hampden and we had a quick coffee stop at Gloagburn.
North of Blair Atholl there was snow on the Grampians and over Drumochter we had to stop at Dalwhinnie.
Lunch was a brief stop in Aviemore and we could see recent snow on the Cairngorm Mountains. Afterwards we were soon over Slochd Summit and descending towards the Kessock Bridge having decided that a visit to Tomatin Distillery might have to wait for the return trip. The same applied to Glen Ord on the Black Isle. Back in the lowlands the gorse was in full bloom on both sides of the road and I spotted my first seal of the trip just after crossing the bridge over the Cromarty Firth. We took a B road over to Bonar Bridge and then the road towards Tongue getting some shots of the Dornoch Firth from Struie Hill on the way.
We were soon installed in our cottage near Skerray harbour and time for a walk down there to stretch our legs.
The hawthorn and cow parsley were in full bloom as we left yesterday after James had finished work. As soon as we saw the M6, it was at a standstill heading north. Fortunately the new roundabout at the junction makes it much easier to turn round and head for the A50 which we did. The usual rush-hour Audis and BMWs were overtaking despite my reasonable speed for the conditions. Eventually we were over the Warburton Bridge and back on the motorway only to be slowed down again in South Lancashire due to an accident. We saw a coastguard boat heading north on a trailer and bizarrely for the time of year, a snow plough heading south. A few miles south of Tebay, the last hour of sunlight lit up the fells and there was a perfect rainbow which would have made a great photograph had I been able to stop. The rest of the journey was uneventful and we arrived in Edinburgh in the late evening. Today was spent doing some essential shopping (getting drenched in the process) and getting organised for the journey to Skerray tomorrow. I have packed lots of books and the watercolours to keep me occupied if it rains. This evening will be spent in a more relaxing fashion, having dinner with some friends.
After a month at home my feet are getting distinctly itchy. Tomorrow evening we begin our journey north to Sutherland and Orkney via a short time in Edinburgh. It is some time since I was last in Sutherland and I have never been to Orkney. The chapters of this book which I picked up in a secondhand bookshop, follow our route to some extent as they are arranged south to north. They cover 300 years of Scottish travel writing, some familiar and some not, so the book is a great pre-trip read.
We are planning to drive the Lincoln Highway (Times Square, New York to San Francisco) in 2016 so I am researching the areas we will pass through, some familiar but others new to us. Today, in the secondhand bookshop I work at, I found this book: Mary Barmeyer O’Brien’s ‘Heart of the Trail’. It comprises the stories of eight women who journeyed on the Oregon and other trails heading west from 1840 to 1860, derived from their diaries. I have read some of the accounts of the men who undertook this journey but this book provides a different perspective. As our journey will parallel many of waggon trail routes that were taken from the midwest it is very interesting and at times very saddening to hear of the enormous challenges faced by the families seeking a better life. I have a growing pile of maps and books as I plan our route. The highway has moved a little with various routes and diversions which arose over time and of course, diversions are allowed.