A beautiful day, with warm sunshine and just a bit of cloud in the afternoon.
The JOG trail didn’t disappoint today and on the whole not too many issues. There was one dodgy bit of sign posting, where the arrow direction didn’t match either the map or the walk description, after a debate, we decided to ignore the arrow and fortunately this was the right choice. There was one section of narrow path through some woodland which was slightly overgrown and definitely will be once the ferns flourish.
The mornings walk was dominated by the Duke of Sutherland, his 30 metre statue looking down on us from top of Ben Bhraggie mountain. The 1st Duke was clearly very aware of his own importance although he got a mixed press for his role in the Highland clearances. Many families were moved from their mixed farms in the Highlands to make way for more profitable sheep farming. The evictions prompted some families to emigrate in particular to Canada. The Canadian whisky taster from Halifax, Nova Scotia we met at the hostel in Delwinnie had traced his family ancestry back to Scots who emigrated as a result of the clearances. A statue we will see in Helmsdale tomorrow depicts a fleeing family.
The route initially took us from Durnoch to Golspie, via sand dunes, a disused railway and across Loch Fleet.
Loch Fleet didn’t disappoint with hundreds of Harbour Seals basking close to shore in the sunshine, mothers with their pups and huge bulls all making a lot of noise. We watched as one pup waddled back into the water egged on by it none to happy mother.
We left Loch Fleet over the A9 road bridge being careful not to tread on any sea otters before a multi terrain hike ending with a walk along the edge a golf course. On the golf course we were approached by a couple of Canadian golfers who had passed us in their car much earlier in the day and had interrupted their game to chat about our walk.
We had a large lunch at The Coffee Bothy in Golspie and to celebrate the nice weather we followed it up with an ice cream.
The afternoon took us along the coast from Golspie to Brora, passing Dunrobin Castle.
Our next sighting of seals was walking along the shoreline between Golspie and Brora a long stunning stretch of pebble and sandy beach. There were numerous seals close to the waters edge and we even managed to photograph one basking on a rock. The highlight of the afternoon was spotting a sea otter scuttle down the beach and into the sea.
Our penultimate night of camping tonight is at Brora Caravan Site.