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"End to End via the Margins"
-the diary of a walk.

- Helmsdale to Dunbeath


The early part of the day was beautiful, sun sea, quiet back lanes, ?yellow irises? There were a number of ruined dwellings to tell the story of depopulation, but also some bigger, more modern ones. Things are never simple. In time, the landscape became more how I had imagined it for the harsh northern land where Norse and Celtic meet. There were marginal land, sheep, peat stacks for fires. Not that the weather was harsh today ... some sunshine and one attempted shower.

The A9 was quiet enough for me to hear the crash barriers going "ting" as they expanded and contracted with passing sunny intervals.

I met a couple of JOGLEers walking for Leukaemia Research. They had a punishing schedule ahead of them. I passed a plaque, "The Grey Hen's Well/Erected by/the Duke of Portland/1834". The aristocracy could make things happen. Maybe only they could make things happen. Could any of us have coped with such a society? And are we still living with the consequences, or is it even continuing in some places, as it seems to in some aspects in Northumberland?

There was a roadside shop in the middle of nowhere and I went in for a snack. The bananas were on the counter. Apparently they do a steady trade in bananas and Lucozade for End to End travellers (mostly cyclists I assume). One of the travellers had been an 80 year old man who walked with a trolley for his stuff ... one way for one charity, then back again for another charity. In winter, I learned, the road can be closed by snow for long periods. It was not unknown to go two weeks without seeing a car.

I saw a cyclist grinding up the hill out of Dunbeath in a bottom gear that was clearly too high. I wouldn't give much for his chances of getting to Cornwall unless he changes his transmission. Nice trailer, though.

Two days to go now ... long one tomorrow, but I can't see any reason why it should be a problem (famous last words). At last I shall get off the A9 and onto a yellow road into the interior.

Pictures from today...
Ruined dwelling
Electric bothy or herb store?
All I could find out about this church by looking...
...was this
The road ahead - back lane
Roadside rhubarb - apparently it grows like a weed here - pass the custard someone
Tent life
We thank you God
for people who conduct their businesses at the margins,
running vital village shops and post offices
for not many customers,
making poor land productive,
running campsites where few people come,
but which are great for those who do,
gleaners at the harvest of consumers.
Bless them in their useful enterprises,
and let them survive.

© Bob Warwicker. The words here may be reproduced freely, but not for gain, or without attribution. All alterations must have the permission of the author.