Day 7: Blackfold to Inverness, 17km (10½ miles)
[Continued from day six.]
Becky has slept poorly, dreaming of water-soluble zombies. We bid adieu to the Bridgend, the only place we’ve stayed two consecutive nights since we started this trip, and catch our ride to Blackfold again. After catching our last glimpses of Loch Ness, we are dropped at exactly the same place, but this time we head the other way.
The first two miles of today are on tarmac, and we are pattered with the first rain of our hike.
We reach the place where the trail breaks from the road. There’s a woman here with two dogs and a tennis racket. When we get close enough, we find that she isn’t hitting tennis balls; the dogs are just chasing rocks.
We stop for a snack around 11, on the first bench we see. The rain has quit, but the sky is still full of drama.
Very quickly after, we enter a quiet, misty wood. There are interesting mushrooms.
The trail continues alongside a stone wall for what seems like miles. Well, actually, it is miles. We stop for lunch when we spot a log to set on, around 2pm. As soon as we stop moving, the midges swarm us. Our apples taste of DEET.
Again with the crisps! I’m having a hard time imagining crisp flavors that don’t exist in the UK.
In the distance, the Beauly Firth. That means we’re nearing Inverness.
Mushrooms. Photographer for scale.
Upon emerging from the woods, we find this gorgeous pond (which is apparently nameless), with a perfectly smooth surface.
Just around the bend, we catch sight of Inverness! Of course, we also find a signpost that tells us we have 4 miles to go.
Onward through cultivated woods, always downhill.
We trek through a suburb, in the green space between apartments, along the edge of a golf course…
…and finally reach the canal again. This is a very familiar sight by now.
Then we walk straight through a car park (that’s parking lot to you Yankees).
And through an amazing city park, set atop islands in the River Ness (yup, the one that Loch Ness drains through).
We finally meet the monster face-to-face!
By now we’re exhausted, nearly out of gas. We find a bench to sit on for 10 minutes, gathering strength for the home stretch.
We follow the river for about a mile.
Then climb the hill to the castle, and there it is! The end of the trail! It’s a bit anticlimactic – the Hadrian’s Wall trail had a whole gazebo – but we’re glad nonetheless.
The endpoint is in the front yard of Inverness Castle.
We take a few breaths, then hie hence to find our lodgings, which are nearby and very comfortable. Also nearby and comfortable is the Castle Tavern, which feeds us well (cider-battered onion rings, bubble and squeak, Drambuie cranachan, and a local beer flight), and awards us a certificate of completion!
We head back to our room, too exhausted to repack for a train trip, and fall asleep quickly. Today ends one adventure; tomorrow begins another.
[Continued with Part Eight.]