Day 5. Golspie to Camore Woods. 17 miles (ish).
After yesterday's roller-coaster of emotion I needed a quite stroll, and that's exactly what I got. A no-thrills, vanilla, white bread, meat and 2 veg jaunt through the countryside. The Stag's head was more of a pub than anything and still feeling dishevelled after the shocking result of last night's 'Britain's favourite takeaway', I limped downstairs to once again break my fast alone at 8.30. After the Navidale's absolute beast of a feast, the Stag had its work cut out for it and, sadly, did not reach the lofty peaks of its predecessor. The beans were all over the middle of the plate and the fried egg hung precariously, balanced on a deep fried sausage, pale albumen lapping its edge in the tomato sauce below like a weeping willow over a summer stream. The toast, however, was excellent - thick and crunchy without being burnt. However, hiding beneath the obligatory disc of black pudding rested what can only be described as a puck of inedible gristle. I have no idea what it once was or how to even name such an object. Mixed bag overall.
The day itself was largely uneventful. The first few miles were, yet again, spent lumbering past a golf course, before entering the serenity of Balblair Woods.
The woods ran past Loch Fleet and after around 5 miles I was forced to reunite with the A9 and cross the water via a bridge locally termed 'The Mound'. The verge was tiny and the traffic swift so I wasn't able to take any photos here, but some of the litter lining the verge was truly captivating. The ever present Irn Bru can took top spot for sheer numbers, but alongside crushed ritalin bottles and wheel rims lay a true work of modern art. A full size, nearly flattened tin of quality street with a discarded pair of ladies tights inside. Whoever was behind this ridiculous cacophony of litter was clearly capable of the kind of hedonistic excess that us regular folk can only dream of. I marched on with a wry, and slightly envious, smile.
I passed through Dornoch, a typically sleepy Scottish Town to find a young couple tied, back to back, to the mast of a fishing boat in the back of a pick up truck. They were covered in what can only be described as the excrement of the sea, both grinning broadly with a jubilant crowd all around them. I asked a local what was going on and he described, at length, what I was seeing. Unfortunately I can't understand a word of Scottish so it will forever remain a mystery to me, but they all looked very happy so at least that's something.
From Dornoch I hungrily wolfed down a pulled pork and red Leicester baguette whilst watching the Orient (on VPN) scrape a draw at home to lowly Halifax. Such is life. It was only a short 4 mile hop to the spooky Camore Woods and my first wild camping of the trip. I found a lovely secluded pitch, got a nice fire going and sat back with a hip-flask of whiskey and kept the fire going until well after dark.
Unbeknownst to me, the rare pine marten is amazingly abundant in Camore Woods and so I was woken at 2am to the sound of tiny paws in the leaf litter right near my head - a cute, but ultimately very disconcerting sound when you're trying to sleep.