Over Easter I stayed with a whole bunch of friends and their darling children in a large country pile just outside of Nigg, to the north and east a bit from Inverness. As a hapless singleton I’m quite used to being utilised in an uncle capacity, but these days the kids are all a little older and look after themselves pretty much, so there is less pressure to be entertaining or get involved in family activities. I do still try and help out with the cooking – and this annual event has a reputation for some fine dining – though this year even the kitchen operations seemed to be running like clockwork, so much so that I was even able to ducked out of these duties. Free loading? Moi? Think I’m using this entry as a bit of a confessional.
Anyway down to business. In my car-less world the location was always going to present some challenges, but with a bit of motivation and a rudimentary grasp of the train timetable, I was able to get all the way to Glenbeg bothy and back in the space of the daylight hours. In fact it wasn’t as big an expedition as I feared, the final off road miles were on a veritable motorway, and I was back in the pub in Bonar Bridge with a pint of Guinness waiting for the service back to the Cromarty Firth by 5 o’clock.
The next day I planned to put my feet up but I was enticed to join the girls on a hill walk over the Fannichs. This turned out to be an excellent decision as not only was the company very convivial, the weather in the west coast was much better than the unpromising low cloud that hung over the house. My only problem was a lack of kit, and I had to skitter round the snow plastered hills in my running shoes without a pair of crampons.
My visit was almost over before it had started, and after a lazy outing with the kids the following afternoon, it was time for everyone to start packing up and heading home. However, I still had a few days to spare and having said my fond farewells I headed back up north on the train. I then cycled west in an increasingly persistent snow shower over to Oykel Bridge and on to the bothy at Duag Bridge. From there the next morning, I walked on to Magoo’s bothy at Coiremor and spent a long evening huddling up in my down bag wishing that someone could helicopter in some coal. The snow scuppered any plans to climb Seana Bhraigh so I was somehow back on the road to Lairg the next afternoon, having made a quick dash to Knockdamph on the bike to complete the tick list. A speculative phone call to a mate in Inverness got me a bed for the night, and in a fit of fine efficiency I knocked off Ruigh Aiteachain the next day before travelling back to Edinburgh.